Nepal civil servants resign over security concerns

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KATHMANDU, Nov 20 (Reuters) Scores of junior civil servants resigned in southern Nepal today, the latest among hundreds of village administrators who have quit citing a lack of security in the troubled region, an official said.

Government employees are among more than 80 people killed this year by rebels in violent protests by an ethnic Madhesi group, in clashes with Maoists and in other local disputes in the southern plains.

Much of the lawlessness has been blamed on unrest over being politically ignored by Kathmandu.

Bharat Dhungana, the local development officer of Bara district, said 91 village secretaries in the district had submitted their resignations to him.

''They all want a guarantee for their security,'' he said. ''The security situation is quite tense. How to go about it is a problem.'' The government said security concerns of the civil servants would be addressed.

''Their intention is not to resign permanently. The government will convince them and keep them in their jobs,'' Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said after a cabinet meeting.

The move by the civil servants comes as Nepal's ruling alliance and the Maoists struggle to resolve a deadlock over the former rebels' demand to immediately abolish the monarchy.

The winter session of parliament, which began yesterday was adjourned until next week to give the government time to try to resolve the impasse.

The Maoists, in a blow to a peace deal reached last year, quit the government in September over the demand, which the government says ran counter to an earlier agreement.

The row also forced an indefinite postponement of constituent assembly elections originally set for this week.

The violence in the fertile southern plains bordering India has also threatened the peace deal with the Maoists, who ended their civil war against the monarchy -- a conflict that killed more than 13,000 people.

The region is home to nearly half of Nepal's 26.4 million people and is considered the impoverished nation's food basket. The resignation of village secretaries has deprived many villages of any government presence.

Analysts blamed the multi-party government for ignoring the security situation in the southern plains, also called the Terai.

''The security situation in the Terai is potentially very dangerous mainly because of the ethnic elements in it,'' said Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times weekly.

''It could lead to a Sri Lanka-type situation unless the government in Kathmandu wakes up in time,'' he said, referring to the Indian Ocean island nation which has been torn by a bloody ethnic conflict for over two decades.

Reuters PD RS1853

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