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Maoists threaten to quit government

The threat by a Maoist minister, is the first since the former guerrillas joined the Govt in April under a peace deal.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2007 11:14 IST

Nepal's former Maoist rebels threatened to pull out of a coalition government on Monday, amid a row over soldiers posted to guard the residences of Maoist ministers.

The threat by Information and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a Maoist nominee in the cabinet, is the first since the former guerrillas joined the government in April under a peace deal ending their decade-long civil war that killed more than 13,000 people.

It came a day after the army tried to change the guards at the residences of five Maoist ministers.

Mahara said the new guards were from an elite "ranger force" of the Nepali Army which was created to fight the Maoists before they declared a ceasefire last year, and that they had been posted there without consultation.

"We are seriously considering whether to stay in the government or not," Mahara told reporters.

The guards have since returned to barracks.

An army spokesman denied they were from an elite battalion and said the change of guards at the ministers' residence was a routine process.