Prachanda offers to step down after new Govt | india | Hindustan Times
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Prachanda offers to step down after new Govt

india Updated: Jun 30, 2006 16:41 IST
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The top leader of Nepal's Maoist guerrillas has offered to step down once a new government is formed to prove that the rebels are committed to peace.

Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who prefers to be called Prachanda, has said he would step down as the "supreme commander" of the rebels' guerrilla army, known as the People's Liberation Army, after an interim government is formed.

According to the pact between the seven-party ruling alliance and the rebels, once an interim Constitution is drawn up, the present government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala would be dissolved to make way for an interim government that would also include the Maoists.

"People are talking about the seven parties being unarmed while the Maoists are armed," Prachanda said.

"But once an interim government is formed, we are ready to put our army under the new prime minister. Then the guerrilla army would become the national army and no longer remain the Maoist army."

Prachanda made the offer during an exclusive interview with journalist Laxman Humagain for the state-run Nepal Television channel.

This is the first time that the rebel leader appeared on state television, which earlier, following the government line, used to refer to the guerrillas as "terrorists".

Prachanda said he would make the offer at the next round of peace talks with the top leaders of the seven-party alliance.

The rebel offer comes as the parties and the Maoists have been holding different positions on arms.

While the parties want the guerrillas to lay down arms before the interim government is formed, the rebels say that would happen after they are part of the government.

"(Otherwise) there will be no bargaining card left with us," Prachanda reportedly told a different group of journalists.

The charismatic rebel chief also played down the importance of the UN in monitoring and managing the arms and soldiers of the Nepal Army and guerrilla army during the ceasefire.

Earlier this month, Prachanda had held the first "summit talk" with Prime Minister Koirala and SPA leaders, where both sides agreed to ask the United Nations to supervise the arms and armies of both sides.

However, after an inexplicable delay from the government to approach the UN, now Prachanda says a national monitoring team could do just as well.

"We could manage it ourselves without involving foreigners," Prachanda said. "If we run into any difficulty, then maybe we could ask a small UN team."

However, it was not made clear immediately who would lead the interim government. Earlier, the Maoists had said the issue could be decided through negotiations.

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