updated 3/30/2007 4:42:33 PM ET 2007-03-30T20:42:33

Nepal's seven ruling political parties and the country's former Maoist rebels agreed Friday to form a joint government, the latest step in ending a decade of civil war an official said.

The landmark agreement was reached in a meeting between Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, leaders of the seven ruling parties and Prachanda, the leader of the former rebels, said Tourism Minister Pradeep Gyawali.

Gyawali, who has been a member of the government peace talks team, said an official announcement on the new government was scheduled for Saturday.

Last year, the country's king, Gyanendra, was forced to give up authoritarian rule, and the rebels ended their insurgency and entered peace talks with the government.

They have since signed a peace accord, locked up their weapons, confined their fighters in camps monitored by the U.N. and joined the country's Parliament.

The interim government will hold elections later this year for a special assembly to rewrite the constitution and decide whether Nepal — which has long been a constitutional monarchy — will continue to have a king.

The Maoist insurgency killed more than 13,000 people.

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