Nepal Maoists urge US to wipe them off terror list
Nepal's former rebel Maoists called on Friday on the United States to remove them from its list of foreign terrorist groups, accusing Washington of ignoring the country's peace deal.
After signing the landmark deal last November, renouncing violence after a decade of war and taking up seats in parliament, the Maoists say they are now an integral part of the new political landscape.
"We are not terrorists anymore in the eyes of government," Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara told the agency.
"The US is ignoring the new political developments that have occurred in our country. We request the US to change its old policy."
The former rebel movement is now registering fighters and weapons with the United Nations.
But the US ambassador to Nepal, James Moriarty, told journalists last week that the Maoists were likely to "cheat" in the registration process and urged them to disarm completely before being allowed into government.
"I think everybody here believes that the Maoists will try to cheat. They are trying to buy primitive hand-made weapons from Bihar so that they can put crummy weapons into the containers instead of their modern weapons," he said.
He also said the Maoists would "retain their private army" until later this year when the country is supposed to vote for a body that will redraw Nepal's constitution.
"They will use that to create the condition for an election that is not free and fair," Moriarty said.
But another senior Maoist described the US position as "contradictory."
"On one hand they have welcomed the interim constitution and formation of (an) interim legislature but on the other hand they have hinted they would not cooperate with the ministries led by our party.
This is contradictory," said Suresh Ale Magar, a new Maoist member of the recently sworn-in parliament.
As part of the peace deal signed last November, a new interim constitution has been passed and the former rebels have been given 83 of the 303 seats in a temporary parliament.
Their transition from jungle rebels to lawmakers came after a decade of bloody civil war that killed at least 13,000 people, during which the United States provided millions of dollars worth of military aid to the government in Kathmandu.
Washington also urged mainstream political parties to reconcile with King Gyanendra during his 14-month period of absolute control of Nepal.
Gyanendra's direct rule ended after massive protests organised by sidelined parties in conjunction with the rebels crippled the nation in April last year, and the subsequent peace deal has left the monarch facing an uncertain future.