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Crowds march in Nepal

(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai promised on Wednesday (January 30) to hold delayed elections in May, raising hopes for an end to a political stalemate that has crippled the Himalayan republic still emerging from a decade-long civil war. A former rebel leader, Bhattarai announced the polls to a rally of 10,000 cheering, flag-waving supporters in the heart of the Nepali capital. It was a show of strength after weeks of violent street protests by opposition parties demanding the prime minister's resignation. Nepal's parliament was dissolved in May, having failed to reach a consensus on drafting a new constitution seen as central to long-term stability. Since then, opposition parties have pressured Bhattarai to quit to pave the way for the formation of a national unity government to oversee elections. The polls had initially been set for last November, but they were deferred as opposition parties refused to cooperate, saying the dates, finalised without consulting them, were impractical.

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