Chef who slapped Nepal Maoist chief to fight election

KATHMANDU (AFP) - A disgruntled former Maoist who rose to fame in Nepal after slapping the country's leading leftwing politician announced plans on Thursday to fight him in upcoming elections.

Padam Kunwar, a 26-year-old chef who assaulted Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal last November, registered himself as an independent candidate in the leader's constituency in the capital Kathmandu.

"I have fielded my candidacy not to defeat anyone but to win the election," Kunwar, who was a member of the Maoist party until June last year, told reporters on Thursday.

More than 100 parties, including three major ones - the centrist Unified Marxist-Leninist, the Nepali Congress and the radical Maoists - have fielded candidates for 240 seats in the polls expected on November 19.

Nepal installed a caretaker government in March tasked with steering the country towards only its second national election since the end of a civil war in 2006.

The impoverished Himalayan country has operated in a legislative vacuum since May 2012 after a constituent assembly elected in 2008 failed to produce a new constitution.

"I feel sad for not being able to draft the constitution earlier. But I want to assure all that the upcoming parliament would accomplish the task," Dahal, better known as Prachanda, told reporters on Thursday, the deadline for filing nominations.

Nepal's civil war pitting Maoists against government forces commanded by the now deposed monarchy lasted 10 years and claimed more than 16,000 lives.