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Maoists apply for political party status

Kathmandu, April 10: The Maoists today took the historic step of registering with the election commission of Nepal in order to be recognised as a legitimate political party ahead of planned elections later this year.

A delegation of top Maoist leaders, led by their party ideologue and second-in-command Baburam Bhattarai, formally filed an application with the election commission this morning.

The delegation included, among others, Maoist spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who is also the minister for information and communication in the multi-party interim government.

Bhattarai said the application listed the party’s name as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) and the official symbol was a hammer, sickle and star on the traditional red background.

Maoists joined the government this month — a year after they entered a peace process aimed at ending a decade-old insurgency that claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Before they joined the government, the Maoists and seven other parties agreed that the Constituent Assembly elections would be held on June 20.

The government has yet to officially announce a date, and doubts have been raised that balloting can be held so soon. Elections officials have also said they need more time to prepare for the polls.

But Bhattarai said the Maoists were certain elections would be held on schedule, and warned any date changes could have negative consequences.

The elected Constituent Assembly will rewrite the constitution and decide what type of political system Nepal, a long-time constitutional monarchy, will have in the future.

The communist rebels gave up their armed struggle last year and later signed a peace deal.

They have confined their fighters and weapons in UN-monitored camps.

The Maoists joined parliament earlier this year.

Austere lifestyle

According to a new, 14-pointcode of conduct announced by the Maoists today, its ministers will not keep private property and will maintain an austere lifestyle.

Mahara said: “They have already handed over their property to the party six years ago and now they will formally hand it over (to the party) very soon.”

Their code of ethics includes leading a simple life, giving priority to public interest rather than private and maintaining austerity, including shunning unjustifiable and expensive foreign junkets.

The commitment also includes “correcting aberrations and anomalies” in the offices and agencies under their ministry.

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