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Pro-Govt candidates begin campaign in Nepal

Maoists have threatened severe action against candidates in the polls, demanding they all withdraw from the race by Wednesday.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 14:38 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Candidates backed by Nepal's royal government braved threats of violence from communist rebels by launching their first campaign rally on Monday in the nation's capital, Kathmandu.

Waving blue, yellow and green colored flags, supporters of the pro-monarchist Rastriya Prajatantra Party roared through the streets of Kathmandu on 250 motorcycles.

"From today I will go to each neighborhood, street and alley to seek votes," said mayoral candidate Rajaram Shrestha.

Maoist rebels have threatened "severe action" against candidates in the polls, demanding they all withdraw from the race by Wednesday and threatening harm to anyone who is involved in the election process.

The rebels have already been accused of killing one candidate and abducting another in recent days.

Shrestha said he was aware of the threats but wasn't going to allow them to frighten him away from campaigning.

He is one of the few candidates who have dared to announce their candidacy for the municipal election scheduled by the government for February 8 in 58 cities and towns across this Himalayan kingdom.

Nepal's rebels have been fighting since 1996 to replace the impoverished country's monarchy with a socialist government. The civil war has killed about 12,000 people.

The guerrillas have intensified their assaults on government troops since they ended a unilateral ceasefire on January 2, accusing the government of attacking them and failing to match their suspension of violence.

The rebels and the country's seven largest political parties are boycotting the municipal elections, arguing that they would legitimize King Gyanendra's seizure of absolute power a year ago.

The monarch has said the takeover was necessary to fight the communist uprising and government corruption.

Candidates have registered in less than half the 4,146 election races for local offices.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 14:35 IST