Fri, Mar 04, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Nepal may become Khmer Rouge-type risk: Official

AP , WASHINGTON

The US warned on Wednesday that a Maoist takeover in Nepal could lead to a human rights nightmare comparable to the Khmer Rouge reign in Cambodia during the 1970s.

Donald Camp, a top official in the state department's South Asia bureau, said Nepalese authorities can confront the Maoists only if there is unity among the country's political forces.

Camp said Nepalese unity was shattered by King Gyanendra's dismissal of the government and other restrictions he decreed on Feb. 1.

"This serious setback for Nepalese democracy risks eroding even further the Nepalese Government's ability to resist the insurgency. It must be reversed," Camp said.

He said the Maoists have made clear their intention to impose a one-party "people's republic," collectivize agriculture and "reeducate" class enemies.

"The humanitarian ramifications of such a regime would be immense, reminiscent of the nightmare brought upon Cambodia by Pol Pot," Camp said.

Upwards of 1.8 million Cambodians died as a result of Khmer Rouge policies during their 1975-79 rule.

Camp also warned that a Maoist takeover would threaten stability in the region, pointing out part of the rebel agenda is export of revolution to neighboring countries.

The Maoists will change their ways only when they are convinced that they "have to rejoin the political mainstream instead of trying to sweep it away," he said.

"The key to accomplishing this is for the legitimate political parties and Nepal's King to unite in a multi-party, democratic framework in order to confront the Maoists and address the country's serious developmental problems," he said.

Camp reaffirmed that the US is considering suspending its US$2 billion security assistance program.

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