Maoist leader predicts victory, end of monarchy in Nepal

(dpa) - A top leader of Nepal's former Maoist rebels predicted victory for his party in Thursday's election for constituent assembly, and the end of the country's monarchy.

Babu Ram Bhattarai, second in command of the former rebels, said despite the party's communist ideologies, it was ready to join a pluralistic democracy with free press and free enterprise.

"We are very proud of our achievements and are sure we will meet all the goals we set out to accomplish when we began our people's war," Bhattarai said reflecting back on a decade of fighting and the party's time in government since April 2007.

"This is not an ordinary election," Bhattarai told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, at his home in a Kathmandu suburb. "This election will end the monarchy and establish Nepal as a democratic republic."

Asked what would happen to the king after he is removed, Bhattarai said, "He can live in the country as an ordinary citizen if he abides by the law - if he breaks them then he will be prosecuted."

Bhattarai claimed his Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) enjoyed enough popular support to become the largest party in the constituent assembly.

"We see tremendous wave of support for our party and it is increasing everyday,' Bhattarai said. "I assure you we will be the largest party and will have the landslide victory."

Bhattarai's claim came as other parties and polling organizations predicted a poor showing for the former rebels, sparking fears of renewed conflict.

Bhattarai denied media reports about Maoist threats to walk out of the peace process and resume fighting if they fail to win the election.

"If the election is free and fair we will accept the elections," he said. "But the Nepalese media is biased towards us and is funded by foreign forces."

Bhattarai also rejected accusations that his party cadres, along with the Maoist youth wing Young Communist League were, involved in violence against members of other parties in the run up to the elections.

"Our people have been killed and we have been blamed for the violence. At least eight of our party cadres have been killed so far and the media has not see those atrocities," Bhattarai said.

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