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Nepal government, Maoists clinch historic peace deal
Cat : Peace And Security
Date : 2006-11-08 12:12:35                      Reader : 308
are losers in wars, and all gain with dialogue attain peace and security world wide.

Associated France Press (AFP) 8/11/2006

Nepal government, Maoists clinch historic peace deal


by Sam Taylor

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal's governing parties and Maoist rebels have clinched a historic peace deal that will see the movement join an interim administration and end their bloody 10-year insurgency.

Negotiators said the interim government would be formed by December 1 and that both the army and the rebels would give up some weapons.

A new constitution will be drafted and the role enjoyed by the monarchy -- one of the biggest sticking-points of the six-month peace process in the troubled Himalayan nation -- will be reviewed.

The breakthrough "has opened the doors to build a new Nepal," a government negotiator, Ram Chandra Poudel, told reporters after marathon 16-hour talks.

Rebel spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara hailed the deal as "one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of Nepali politics."

The civil war between the Maoists and central government has claimed at least 12,500 lives since 1996.

"Now we will come forward not as a rebel force, but as a political force," Mahara told AFP. "The party will move forward with a new strategy and build a new image."

"Our party sees this as an historic agreement. With this agreement Nepal has entered into a new era," Ananta, the deputy commander of the Maoist People's Liberation Army, also said.

Hridayesh Tripathi, Nepal's minister of commerce, said parliament would be dissolved and a transitional assembly formed by November 26.

Under the deal, the Nepali Congress party, the country's largest, would get 75 of the 330 seats in the new parliament.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), the second largest party, and the rebels would each have 73 seats, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula told journalists.

The remaining seats would be divided between the five other parties in the current ruling multi-party government.

Sitaula said the rebel army would be confined in camps under UN supervision before the end of November.

"The weapons of the Maoists will be locked up and a similar amount of Nepal Army weapons will also be locked up," he added.

Disarmament had been a major sticking point in the protracted peace process, but the Maoists agreed at the weekend to lock up their weapons and place them under UN supervision.

This was the third time the two sides had tried to hammer out a peace deal. Two previous attempts, in 2001 and in 2003, both failed, plunging the country back into conflict.

However, the peace process won fresh impetus when a multi-party government came to power in April this year after mass protests forced King Gyanendra to end direct rule.

Since declaring a ceasefire in May, the government and rebels have held two rounds of high-level peace talks.

At those talks, they agreed to hold elections to a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, meeting a key rebel demand, and to form an interim parliament including the Maoists.

The rebels already control large swathes of countryside but their parallel government structures will be dissolved once a transitional constitution comes into effect on November 26, said Sitaula, the home minister.

Poudel, the government negotiator from the Nepali Congress party, said the fate of the monarchy would be decided at a first meeting after the constituent assembly elections.

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