TIMELINE: Main events in Nepal's Maoist war and march to peace

(Reuters) - Nepal’s Maoist former rebels have widened the lead in last week’s crucial elections meant to map the country’s political future, a key step in the landmark peace deal that ended a bloody conflict.

The following is a chronology of how the Maoist war began and the journey so far:

1994 - The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is founded by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known by his nom de guerre, Prachanda.

Feb 1996 - Maoists, who oppose the Himalayan country’s constitutional monarchy, launch a “people’s war” to establish a single-party communist republic.

1996-2000 - The Maoist launch a low-intensity insurgency and target ill-trained and poorly armed police.

2001-2005 - The Maoists attack army barracks and steal modern weapons, and drag the army into conflict that turns into a full-scale guerrilla war. They begin attacks on district capitals, army posts and intensify transport strikes, choking Kathmandu of essential goods such as fuel.

Feb 2005 - King Gyanendra takes absolute power, vowing to crush the Maoists.

Sept 2005 - Maoist rebels announce a unilateral ceasefire but royalist government rejects it.

Nov 2005 - Maoists join a loose alliance with the seven main political parties to end royal rule.

Jan 2006 - Rebels end ceasefire.

April 2006 - King Gyanendra gives up absolute power after widespread protests. Veteran politician Girija Prasad Koirala, sworn in as prime minister, invites rebels for talks.

June 2006 - New government agrees with Maoists to dissolve parliament and form interim administration that includes rebels.

Nov 2006 - Prime Minister Koirala and rebel chief Prachanda sign a peace deal, ending a civil war that killed more than 13,000 people.

Jan 2007 - Parliament scraps old constitution and adopts new interim constitution. Maoists control 84 seats in the 329-member interim legislature.

Dec 2007 - The ruling alliance and the Maoists agree to abolish the monarchy after the elections.

Feb 2008 - Ethnic Madheshi groups call a strike demanding autonomy which brings much of the economy to a standstill.

Feb 2008 - The government seals a deal with most Madheshi groups to end the protests.

April 2008 - Maoists go to polls in historic elections, Nepal’s first in nearly nine years.

Compiled by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Alex Richardson