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Nepal Maoists reject king's offer, announce blockade of capital

Written by: Staff
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KATHMANDU, Apr 25 (Reuters) Nepal's Maoist rebels today rejected the king's decision to reinstate parliament and said his speech was a sham that failed to address the demands of mass street protests.

''The proclamation is a sham and a conspiracy against the Nepali people,'' Maoist leader Prachanda said in a statement in the Nepali language. ''Our party firmly rejects this.'' The country's main political parties had earlier welcomed King Gyanendra's decision to restore parliament, dissolved in 2002, and said they planned to turn a mass protest today into a ''victory celebration''.

Prachanda said the parties had committed ''another historic mistake'' and encouraged the Nepali people to continue peaceful protests until the parties declared elections for an assembly to write a new constitution.

He called for a blockade of Kathmandu, a city of 1.5 million people, and district capitals, until demands for an unconditional constituent assembly were met.

''Neither has this addressed the slogans being raised on the street for a constituent assembly and a republic, nor the 12-point understanding with the seven political parties,'' Prachanda said of the proclamation.

''Our party makes a strong appeal to the people to continue peaceful protests until elections for an unconditional constituent assembly are announced,'' he said.

Maoists entered a loose alliance with the main political parties last year to end royal rule and set out a rough roadmap for peace.

''When we talk about the people they are going one step ahead of the constituent assembly and they are demanding a republic,'' Comrade Sunil, a senior Maoist leader, told Reuters by telephone. ''Our party heartily respects this.'' Maoists control vast swathes of the countryside and have been waging a decade-long insurgency to end the monarchy and establish a communist republic. More than 13,000 people have died since 1996.

REUTERS SI HS1257

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