Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Nepali government, Maoists sign peace deal

AFP , KATHMANDU

Nepal's governing parties and Maoist rebels clinched a historic peace deal early yesterday that will see the movement join an interim administration and end their bloody 10-year insurgency.

Negotiators said the interim government would be formed by Dec. 1 and that both the army and the rebels would give up some weapons.

A new constitution will be drafted and the role enjoyed by the monarchy -- one of the biggest sticking-points of the six-month peace process in the troubled Himalayan nation -- will be reviewed.

The breakthrough "has opened the doors to build a new Nepal," a government negotiator, Ram Chandra Poudel, told reporters after marathon 16-hour talks.

Rebel spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara hailed the deal as "one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of Nepali politics."

The civil war between the Maoists and central government has claimed at least 12,500 lives since 1996.

"Now we will come forward not as a rebel force, but as a political force," Mahara said. "The party will move forward with a new strategy and build a new image."

"Our party sees this as an historic agreement. With this agreement Nepal has entered into a new era," Ananta, the deputy commander of the Maoist People's Liberation Army, also said.

Hridayesh Tripathi, Nepal's minister of commerce, said parliament would be dissolved and a transitional assembly formed by Nov. 26.

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