Maoists in Nepal intensify combat training

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Kathmandu (Nepal), Apr 27 (ANI): Maoist groups in Nepal have intensified their combat training, as it begins to look increasingly possible that a political stalemate could see tension return if a May 28 deadline to draft a constitution is not met.

The rebels see no alternative to solve the political crisis aggravated by the death of fomer Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in March.

Groups of men have been practising martial arts at a factory here.

"The reactionaries can play a foul game to thwart the making of the constitution. To compensate for that, we felt the need to take part at training," said a young Nepalese on a break from their martial arts session.

Nepal held elections in 2008 for a special constituent assembly meant to prepare a new constitution.

It also abolished the 239-year-old monarchy, fulfilling two major demands of the Maoists during the conflict, which began in 1996.

But two other conditions seen as crucial for lasting peace are yet to be fulfilled.

More than 19,000 former Maoist guerrillas housed in U.N.-monitored camps need to be integrated and rehabilitated; and the assembly must prepare a new constitution before May 28.

It is quite possible that the assembly will miss the May 28 deadline, because it is yet to agree on whether to adopt a parliamentary or a presidential government, or how a central system will distribute resources.

Maoist chief Prachanda has said the group will not take up arms again but will capture power if the government failed to deliver on peace and the new constitution.

Senior Maoist leader Babu Ram Bhattari on Monday said he still hopes the new constitution will be approved.

"There is no other alternative than to go to the people and mount pressure on the government to pave the way for the implementation of the peace process and complete the constitution making process by May 28," said Bhattari.

"This government, which was formed on the basis of unconstitutional move of the President has no intention of completion of the peace process," he added.

If the constitution is not approved on May 28, experts say the interim constitution can be extended for another six months and that all parties are likely to agree to finish drafting the new constitution within that period. (ANI)

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