Nepal's former rebels agree to rejoin gov't; monarchy to be abolished

Former insurgents have agreed to rejoin Nepal's government, officials said, signaling an end to a political crisis that postponed crucial elections. The agreement will also abolish Nepal's monarchy. No date has been set for the ex-rebels - a communist faction usually referred to as the Maoists - to rejoin the government. They quit in September, demanding the immediate abolition of the monarchy and changes to the election system. An agreement for them to rejoin was signed Sunday, however, by leaders of the seven main political parties - including the Maoists - said Arjun Narsingh of the Nepali Congress, the Himalayan country's largest party. The 23-point pact said the leaders also agreed that once a Constituent Assembly is elected by mid-April, its first meeting would declare Nepal a republic, ending its centuries-old monarchy. The change had been widely expected for months. The Constituent Assembly will rewrite Nepal's constitution and hammer out the details of a new political structure for the country.