KATHMANDU — Nepal's ruling Maoist party split into rival factions on Tuesday, pushing the country deeper into political turmoil after the parliament was dissolved in chaos last month.
The Maoists' break-up poses further challenges for impoverished Nepal, which has struggled to implement a peace process since the end of its bloody ten-year civil war in 2006.
National elections are due in November after an interim parliament known as the Constituent Assembly, which was set up following the war, collapsed having repeatedly failed to agree on a new constitution.
"The split will have adverse effects on the constitution-making process and the peace plan," Sudheer Sharma, editor-in-chief of the best-selling Kantipur newspaper, told AFP.
Sharma said a breakaway faction of hardline Maoists could spark fears of renewed violence in the troubled Himalayan nation.
An estimated 16,000 people died in the 1996-2006 "people's war" fought by the Maoists against the state before the rebels turned to politics and swept to power in elections two years later.
"If they take up arms, there will be more violence and unrest. It will be very unfortunate because we have just emerged from a brutal war," Sharma said.
The split came after days of talks among activists from the so-called "radical faction", who want to turn Nepal into a democratic communist republic and say the party hierarchy has sold them out.
Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma, a leader of the breakaway faction, said it opposed Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known by the nom-de-guerre Prachanda, who led the Maoists in war and carried them to elected power in 2008.
"When we entered into peace, there was a challenge to retain the party's revolutionary spirit," Bishwakarma said.
"Until a couple of years ago, Prachanda was clearly allied with us, but he deviated from it. After all sorts of attempts, we concluded that there's no alternative but to form a new party."
After parliament was dissolved in May, United Nations' chief Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about Nepal's stability unless political rivals united to address the country's problems.
The breakaway faction of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) said it would call itself the "Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist".
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