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Annan presses Nepal to match rebel ceasefire

Annan also called on the rebels to extend the unilateral ceasefire they put in place four months ago, which is due to expire Monday.

world Updated: Dec 31, 2005 12:33 IST

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed concern that fighting between Nepalese forces and Maoist rebels could resume and urged the government to join in a rebel ceasefire.

Annan also called on the rebels to extend the unilateral ceasefire they put in place four months ago, which is due to expire on Monday, UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

The UN leader "deeply regrets that despite the appeal of so many national and international voices, including his own, no progress appears to have been made towards a mutually agreed truce" between government and rebel forces, Okabe said on Friday.

The United Nations stood ready to help both sides reach a ceasefire deal, she added. "The people of Nepal have benefited from the de-escalation of violence in the last four months and they would bear the brunt of a renewal in fighting."

The rebels are fighting to topple Nepal's constitutional monarchy and establish one-party Communist rule.

The Maoist revolt has killed more than 12,500 people and led to delays since 2003 in planned municipal elections, which the government says could lead to parliamentary elections in 2007.

Nepal is now due to elect municipal councils in February, but the rebels have threatened "special action" to disrupt the voting for 58 municipal councils.

However, officials of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Thursday that rebel leaders had assured them they did not intend to abduct or kill candidates.

Although the Maoists have not explained their threat, they have in the past beaten, kidnapped or killed people who have disobeyed them.

First Published: Dec 31, 2005 12:33 IST