Nepal looks to peace after landmark truce pact | india | Hindustan Times
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Nepal looks to peace after landmark truce pact

Under the peace deal, the rebels will join an interim Parliament by November 26 and will get 73 of the chamber's 330 seats.

india Updated: Nov 23, 2006 15:15 IST

Nepal was facing a new era of peace after the government and Maoists signed a landmark peace accord, but both sides admitted on Thursday there were challenges on the road ahead.

Since the agreement earlier this week, the focus has shifted to implementing the terms of the accord that would see the former insurgents lock up their weapons and join the political mainstream.

"There is bound to be conflict between the people who want change and those who oppose it," said Dina Nath Sharma, a member of the Maoist peace talks team.

Sharma said it was yet to be seen if the state would work with the former rebels, who have been referred to as terrorists by past governments for their bloody tactics in a decade-long communist insurgency.

"There is always a danger that the traditional bureaucracy will not cooperate with us and make our work difficult," Sharma said.

The government has said it will fully cooperate with the rebels when they join the government. Under the deal, the rebels will join an interim Parliament by November 26 and will get 73 of the chamber's 330 seats.

"The biggest challenge will be implementing the agreement. We have a very poor record of implementing past agreements between the government and the Maoists," Commerce Minister Hridesh Tripathi said.

Other accords collapsed mostly due to violations by the insurgents, Tripathi said, adding that if they stay committed to the agreement, there should be no major problems.

The interim administration will govern until polls are held next year to elect a national assembly that will write a new constitution redefining the country's political structure.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist rebel leader Prachanda, who uses a single name, signed the accord on Tuesday, marking the end a 10-year insurgency that killed more than 13,000 people.

Schools, offices and businesses were closed on Wednesday after the government declared a public holiday and thousands of people celebrated in the streets across the country.

Even King Gyanendra welcomed the pact.

The agreement came after months of negotiations focused on how to disarm the insurgents and usher them into the government, which the rebels had helped bring to power by backing mass protests in April against Gyanendra's authoritarian leadership.

Gyanendra seized total power in February 2005, saying he would bring order to a chaotic and corrupt political scene and quell the Maoist insurgency.

Since restoring Parliament, Gyanendra has been stripped of his powers, his command over the army and his immunity from prosecution.