King can still disrupt peace: Rebel peace negotiator

Krishna Mahara, who is heading the Maoists negotiating team, said Gyanendra still has enough powers to disrupt Nepal's peace.

india Updated: May 23, 2006 12:31 IST

The chief negotiator for Nepal's communist rebels said King Gyanendra remains capable of disrupting the nation's peace process despite being stripped of much of his power, a news report said on Tuesday.

Gyanendra reinstated parliament last month, a year after he seized control of the government in a move he said was necessary to combat the growing Maoist insurgency and curb government corruption.

The monarch's decision to relinquish much of his power prompted the two sides to declare a ceasefire and launch peace talks.

However, Krishna Mahara, who is heading the rebels' negotiating team, said Gyanendra could still disrupt the peace efforts.

"The king is still in a position to conspire. The belief that the government proclamation (stripping Gyanendra of much of his power) has made him completely powerless is untrue," Mahara said in an interview with the Kantipur newspaper published on Tuesday.

He said the government should have consulted with the rebels before it pushed through the proclamation last week that stripped the king of his command over the army and made it mandatory for him to pay taxes.

"It could be a mistake or a pre-planned conspiracy," said Mahara, who is in Katmandu for the latest round of peace talks aimed at ending the decade-old conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

The other negotiators are yet to arrive for the talks with the government team headed by Home Minister Krishna Sitaula. It wasn't clear when the talks would begin.

Mahara was a rebel negotiator during two failed attempts at forging peace in 2001 and 2003, but prospects appear brighter this time.

The government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has matched the rebels' unilateral three-month ceasefire and dropped terrorism charges against the Maoists.

It has also agreed to rewrite the Constitution, removing a barrier that crippled the previous peace talks.

First Published: May 23, 2006 12:31 IST