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Nepal rebels put condition on accepting democracy

Maoists said they were willing to hold talks if Gyanendra conceded that his army-backed coup in February 2004 was 'wrong'.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 11:31 IST

Nepal's Maoist rebels are committed to multi-party democracy and willing to keep the monarchy "if the people choose," the group's leader said in a report published on Wednesday.

The interview with Maoist leader Prachanda in a leading Indian daily came as Nepal staged municipal polls denounced by the rebels and opposition parties as an attempt by King Gyanendra to legitimise his takeover of power a year ago.

Prachanda, whose Maoist movement has waged a deadly 10-year battle to topple monarchy, said he was willing to hold talks with the king if Gyanendra conceded that his army-backed coup in February 2004 was "wrong."

"Let us sit across the table, and then (if) he talks of a free and fair election to a constitutional assembly, then we will be ready to take part," said Prachanda, which loosely translates as "the fierce one."

The Maoists are fully committed to multi-party democracy so long as it is under a "new constitutional framework," he said.

"Our decision on multi-party democracy is a strategically, theoretically developed position," he told the paper.

Gyanendra, who said he seized power to quell the Maoist revolt that has claimed over 12,500 lives, has said the municipal polls are a first step back to democracy.

But the Maoists and opposition parties, which have formed a loose alliance, urged voters to boycott the polls. They want elections for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution that would decide the king's future.

First Published: Feb 08, 2006 11:31 IST