Prachanda was addressing donors' representatives in Kathmandu for the first time. Representatives from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank were among those present.

 

"We are more democratic and are ready to compete not only in political sense but also in economic and cultural sphere of the  society," he said.

  

A landmark peace deal signed in November ended Nepal's decade-long civil war, which claimed at least 12,500 lives.

  

Under the deal, the government has agreed to let the Maoists have 73 seats in a new 330-seat parliament in return for placing their arms and fighters in camps under United Nations supervision.

  

Both sides have agreed to hold elections next June for a constituent assembly that will permanently rewrite the constitution and decide whether to retain the 238-year-old monarchy.