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Door open for Maoists to return

Meanwhile multi-party talks are on to resolve the latest political crisis in the Himalayan nation, report Anirban Roy and Agencies.

world Updated: Sep 19, 2007 20:26 IST
Anirban Roy and Agencies

A day after the Maoists plunged Nepal into a fresh crisis, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Wednesday said an honest effort is being made for the former rebels to return to the interim government. Talks between the government and the Maoists were said to be positive.

The four Maoist ministers resigned from Koirala's government on Tuesday in protest against the government's failure to accept their 22-point demands; they are specially insisting on declaring Nepal a republic. A nationwide protest movement has also been launched.

Koirala met British Minister for Asia Shahid Malik on Wednesday morning and said that the Maoists' decision to quit the government was unfortunate.

Still, the octogenarian Prime Minister said his door for the Maoists was open.

The prime minister stressed that the Maoists rejoining the government would pave the way for a smooth Constituent Assembly election on November 22. Koirala's foreign affairs advisor Suresh Raj Chalise told the Hindustan Times that the British minister was keen to support Nepal peace process, especially in holding of the Constituent Assembly elections.

The visiting British minister also met Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai on Wednesday. Bhattarai reportedly promised Malik that the Maoists would not derail the peace process as they fought to transform Nepal into a democratic republic.

The major political parties, meanwhile, have intensified their internal discussions to resolve the current crisis. The Communist Party of Nepal (UML) leaders have put forward the idea of a "commitment resolution" for a republic through the interim parliament.

The commitment resolution may be approved by the constituent assembly, the CPN (UML) leaders said. Almost all the political parties are keen to ensure that the Maoists return to the interim government and requested the former insurgents to call off their agitation.

Former deputy prime minister and president of People's Front of Nepal, Amik Sherchan, said they would propose for a commitment proposal for a republic from the interim parliament.

"There should not be any problem for both Koirala and the Maoists in passing a commitment resolution in the parliament," Sherchan said on Wednesday morning, adding that the Constituent Assembly can subsequently either approve or reject the resolution.

Surprisingly, the Maoists have not made any statement on Koirala's special request and the appeal by the political parties to rejoin the government.

In another development, three Maoist cadres were arrested for carrying sophisticated weapons from a domestic airport in western Nepal, police said.

A sub-machine gun and an Indian-made Insas Rifle were confiscated from them at the Rajha Airport in Nepalgunj, the police said.

The Maoist cadres were handed over to the district police office later. One of the accused, who didn't have any weapons with him, was later released. The Maoists claimed that they were there for the security of Maoist lawmaker Lekhraj Bhatta.