Nepal opened nominations Monday for a crucial and much-delayed national election that will herald the end of the world's last Hindu monarchy. The leader of the country's former communist rebels announced he will be a candidate.
The fate of King Gyanendra _ and his throne _ has been among the most contentious issues dividing the former rebels, who laid down their arms in 2006, and Nepal's political parities. The insurgents delayed the election last year when they temporarily pulled out of Nepal's interim government, only rejoining the administration after the politicians agreed to eliminate the monarchy following the April 10 vote.
The election is for a special assembly that is to rewrite Nepal's constitution. The assembly was the main demand of Nepal's seven main political parties and the communists, who teamed up in April 2006 and orchestrated weeks of protests and unrest that resulted in King Gyanendra giving up dictatorial powers he had seized the year before.
The former insurgents gave up their fight for a communist Nepal soon after, and the need for the assembly was stipulated in the peace deal they signed with the interim government that took over from Gyanendra.
While political squabbling has repeatedly delayed the vote, it appeared Monday that it would go ahead in April with the leader of the former rebels, Prachanda, and other political leaders filing nomination papers.
"I am feeling both happy and proud," Prachanda, who only uses one name, said before a crowd of supporters gathered outside the election commission's office in Katmandu. "I am fully confident that nobody can obstruct our journey to victory."
Election commission said they had not yet received the total number of nominations for the 240 seats, but thousands of candidates were expected to file papers.
Gyanendra, who rarely makes public appearances, did not comment about Monday's nominations.