Friday, November 10, 2006
Good news from Nepal.
Nepal's Maoist guerrillas yesterday agreed to lock up weapons, confine themselves to camps and join an interim government, paving the way for a comprehensive peace deal aimed at ending 10 years of violence that has cost more than 13,000 lives.Not everyone is thrilled, but it's fantastic if it holds.
The rebels' agreement with the new government marks a breakthrough for Nepal as the country seeks to restore stability to a political system still in turmoil after the Maoist-backed uprising against the autocratic King Gyanendra.
It says the king will "not have any powers in the country's governance" but leaves scope for a ceremonial role as head of state. Baburam Bhattarai, a Maoist leader, described it as the "beginning of the end of monarchy". Girija Prasad Koirala, prime minister, said the peace was a "victory" for all Nepalis.
Prachanda, the Maoist chief, said the rebels were proud that 10 years of fighting had delivered "historic change".
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The two sides hope to sign a comprehensive peace agreement by November 16, dissolve parliament and form an interim parliament by November 26. An interim government, which will include the Maoists, is to be formed by December 1.
"This is definitely a historical pact," said Ishwar Pokhrel, a Communist Party of Nepal (UML) leader. "The country now has taken a major step towards peace and democracy." The UML is the second largest partner in government.
Formation of an interim parliament, the government hopes, will see the Maoists put an end to the parallel justice systems and "people's governments" in much of western Nepal.
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