Nepal government, Maoists finalise peace accord
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Nepal government, Maoists finalise peace accord

The pact will be signed by Thursday and the government and the Maoists are in intensive discussion on drafting the agreement.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2006 12:32 IST

Nepal's government and Maoist insurgents met on Monday to finalise a peace accord, due to be signed later this week, aimed at ending a decade-long civil war.

"The agreement will be signed by Thursday and we (the government and the Maoists) are in intensive discussion on drafting the agreement," Krishna Prasad Sitaula, chief government negotiator and home minister, told the agency.

The signing of the historic accord would "open the door for the Maoists to join the political mainstream and participate in the interim legislature and government," Sitaula said.

The rebels and an alliance of political parties reached a landmark deal last week that would see the rebels enter government in return for confining their army and weapons to camps monitored by the United Nations.

"If the accord is signed, we will reach an agreement to end the decade-old insurgency," rebel spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara said.

"But the war will only end permanently when our People's Liberation Army is integrated into the national army, which will be done after the constituent assembly elections," Mahara said.

The rebels and government have agreed to hold elections to a body that would rewrite Nepal's Constitution.

The UN is currently inspecting the seven areas where rebels have proposed containing their army and weapons.

The world body has said it would be impossible for a full monitoring team to be in place by November 21, when the government and rebels agreed that the rebel soldiers would be confined to camps.

"A joint team of UN members, government officials and Maoists have visited three different divisions in eastern Nepal, as part of the inspection tour of proposed cantonment areas for the Maoist People's Liberation Army," Pradeep Gyawali, government negotiator and tourism minister for tourism, said.

The inspection of the seven sites would be finished "in a couple of days", the minister said.

The UN mission would monitor about 35,000 rebel soldiers and the 90,000-strong Nepal Army.

Nepal's elderly, ailing prime minister said last week he took "a political gamble in bringing the Maoists into the political mainstream" and called on them to "respect the letter and spirit of the agreement".

"I urge the Maoists to create a climate without fear," said Prime Minister GP Koirala, 85, who played a leading role in the peace talks.

At least 12,500 people have been killed since the rebels began their "people's war" in 1996, aimed at toppling the monarchy and establishing a communist republic in the Himalayan nation.

The rebels have now said they were prepared to work within a democratic system, but have called for an end to the monarchy in the troubled Himalayan country.

The new pact states the monarchy's fate would be decided at a meeting after elections to a special body to rewrite Nepal's Constitution, to be staged next year.

Maoist leader Prachanda, whose forces fought to turn the country into a republic, said last week the rebels would not accept the monarchy.

"If a ceremonial role for the monarchy is chosen, we will go to the people again and say to them they have made a mistake. There is no room for any form on monarchy," Prachanda said.

Mass street protests forced Gyanendra to restore parliament in April and led to a renewal of the peace process that had collapsed twice before, in 2001 and in 2003, plunging the tiny Himalayan nation back into conflict.

First Published: Nov 13, 2006 12:32 IST