Nepal begins fresh peace talks countdown

Though there has not been any official confirmation so far, several ministers have hinted at a decisive round of parleys on Thursday.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 17:11 IST

After a deadlock for over three months, Nepal's multi-party government and the Maoist guerrillas are expected to resume negotiations on Thursday.

Though there has not been any official confirmation so far, several ministers have hinted at a decisive round of parleys on Thursday, the last working day in Nepal before the Dashain holidays to celebrate Nepal's biggest festival.

Maoist chief Prachanda and ailing Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala are expected to lead the new negotiations, the second of their kind between the top leadership of both sides.

A similar meeting had taken place in mid-June, following which talks languished due to differences on the status of King Gyanendra and the Maoists' refusal to lay down arms before an election is held to decide on their demand for a republican form of government.

During the three-month hiatus, relations between the rebels and the Koirala government took a downturn following reports that the government was trying to import weapons.

The rebels threatened to break off negotiations and begin a fresh, though peaceful, stir.

The latest round of talks is expected to fix a date for holding the crucial general elections and shore up arrangements for the UN to oversee both side's arms and armies.

While the rebels have proposed they will keep their soldiers with arms confined to makeshift camps, the government has also relented by agreeing to provide for the upkeep of the guerrilla army.

According to a local weekly, the rebels have made a nine-point proposal to the seven-party coalition.

It includes keeping the institution of monarchy suspended till a new constitution is implemented, axing the few remaining administrative powers and duties the king still has and nationalising the entire property of the royal family.

The rebels have also suggested forming a high-level military panel that would look after national security during the transitional period, the Jana Aastha weekly reported on Wednesday.

They are mooting that the armed police force be scrapped and a joint team of police and their militia be given the responsibility of maintaining law and order.

Thursday's meeting could also come to a decision about the new constitution.

Though an interim constitution was readied nearly two months ago, it is yet to officially replace the prevailing one due to differences between both sides, mainly on the status of the king.

First Published: Sep 27, 2006 14:16 IST