Nepal power-sharing deal with Maoists lauded
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Nepal power-sharing deal with Maoists lauded

The deal, aimed at ending 10 years of bloody insurgency, was thrashed out at day-long talks in Nepal between PM and Maoists.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 11:21 IST

A landmark deal between Nepal's authorities and Maoist rebels, which will see Parliament dissolved and power shared in a new interim government was hailed in the troubled Himalayan kingdom on Saturday.

The deal, aimed at ending 10 years of bloody insurgency by the rebels, was thrashed out at day-long talks in Kathmandu on Friday between Maoists, led by their elusive chief Prachanda, and government leaders headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

Under the deal, the new Parliament, reconvened after King Gyanendra ended 14 months of direct rule in April, is to be dissolved and an interim government containing the Maoists set up within a month.

Newspapers trumpeted the accord on their front pages, branding it "historic" and a "giant leap forward", although some politicians gave the move a more guarded response.

"The agreement reached in an effort to restore peace is very promising but there are lots of challenges," said Ram Chandra Poudel, general secretary of the Nepali Congress, the kingdom's largest political party.

"The government should move forward very cautiously and avoid making hotch-potch decisions."

The Maoist-government deal was warmly welcomed by Raghuji Pant, a leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), the tiny nation's second largest political grouping.

"This is a very positive development and it shows that the government and Maoists are willing to resolve the political crisis," he said.

As well as dissolving the new Parliament, the two sides agreed Friday to seek United Nations assistance in arms management, and to draft a temporary constitution within 15 days.

The rebels and government had previously agreed to hold elections to a body that would redraft the constitution permanently, a key rebel demand.

Residents of the capital were optimistic about the agreement but urged caution.

"The agreement between the government and the Maoist rebels is positive in solving the current political crisis. But, we shouldn't believe the Maoists too soon," said Kedar Prasad Humagain, 32, a grocer.

"They still have not totally stopped extortions, intimidation and other sorts of violent activities," he said.

Nepal's rebels have been fighting a "people's war" for the last decade, during which at least 12,500 people have been killed.

Late last year they entered a loose alliance with political parties sidelined when the king sacked the government and took direct control of the nation in February 2005.

Massive protests organized by the parties and Maoists crippled Nepal for three weeks in April, until the king handed back power to parliament.

Since coming back into power, the government has stripped King Gyanendra of all politcal powers and removed his control of the army.

Some politicians see a ceremonial role for the monarch, but the Maoists want Nepal to be a democratic republic.

First Published: Jun 17, 2006 11:21 IST