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Nepal's Maoists to hand premiership to independent

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Nepal's Maoists vowed Saturday never to return to guerrilla warfare and offered to give up leadership to an independent prime minister to take the Himalayan nation towards democracy.

Party leaders said at their general convention they would step down from government to seek a popular mandate to lead a "socialist revolution", six years after a decade-long insurgency which toppled the world's last Hindu monarchy.

"Let's agree on an independent person who will lead the government. And we will endorse this concept of a government led by an independent person to hold the election through this convention," said party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Around 3,000 delegates and 100,000 supporters at the party's first general convention in 21 years in the southern town of Hetauda were greeted by a rousing opening address from Dahal, still known by his nom-de-guerre Prachanda.

"We were forced to launch the insurgency after adopting Marxism as a guiding principle. But we don't follow any ideology in its mechanical form. It's a science and it can be adapted," Prachanda said.

"We will institutionalise the gains we have made so far. We will not go back to the guerrilla warfare... In this age of globalisation, a country's independence hinges on its economic strength. Times have changed and old ways have become redundant."

He called for a "socialist revolution" to promote economic growth and create jobs at home so that young Nepalis were no longer forced to seek work abroad.

dee-ft/pj

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130202/nepals-maoists-hand-premiership-independent