EU urges Nepal Maoists to disarm before elections | india | Hindustan Times
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EU urges Nepal Maoists to disarm before elections

The government plans to hold the vote before the end of April 2007, a letter from PM Koirala to UN Secy-General Kofi Annan said.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2006 15:07 IST

The European Union on Friday urged Nepal's Maoist rebels to disarm before constituent assembly elections due next year.

"No political party can go to elections with a gun on its shoulder," Neena Gill, leader of the European Parliament Monitoring Mission to Nepal, told a media conference here.

"The Maoists are not keen to disarm before elections to a constituent assembly, but we have found that they are keen to join a multi-party system.

The European Union would encourage them not to carry arms," Gill said at the end of a six-day trip to the troubled Himalayan nation.

During its trip, the seven-member European delegation met with rebel leaders, the heads of mainstream political parties, civil society leaders and members of the diplomatic and aid communities.

Nepal's Maoists and its recently reinstated government have been observing a ceasefire for nearly three months and have agreed on elections to form a constituent assembly, which will rewrite the country's constitution.

The government plans to hold the vote before the end of April 2007, a letter from Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said.

But a second round of high-level peace talks between the government and the rebels was postponed Friday due to a lack of groundwork, a rebel spokesman said.

Nepal's King Gyanendra imposed direct rule on the country in February 2005, leading sidelined political parties to forge a loose alliance with the rebels.

The alliance organized huge protests over nearly three weeks which forced the king to end direct rule in late April.

The Maoists have been fighting a bloody "people's war" since 1996. At least 12,500 people have died in the conflict.

The rebels and the government have tried to hammer out peace deals twice before, in 2001 and 2003. The attempts failed, plunging Nepal back into bloody conflict.