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Nepal rebels to join parliament after peace pact

By Staff
Google Oneindia News

Kathmandu, Jan 14: Nepal's Maoist rebels are set to put adecade of war against the monarchy behind them tomorow when they joinan interim parliament as part of a peace process.

The Maoists look ready to settle into a more compromising stanceand are unlikely to upset the peace process, analysts say. But rebelsplinter groups remain a threat.

''The Maoists are not going back to the jungles but Nepal is notout of the woods yet,'' said Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Timesweekly.

''Although the Maoist insurgency may be over, hard line breakaway factions could continue the violence,'' he said.

The Maoists declared a ceasefire after mass protests forced King Gyanendra to give up direct rule in 2006.

In November, they signed a peace deal with the multi-partygovernment declaring an end to the conflict in which more than 13,000people have died.

They have also agreed to lock up their weapons under the UnitedNations' supervision, part of the deal struck with Prime MinisterGirija Prasad Koirala allowing the Maoists to join the interimgovernment.

However, two groups that broke from the Maoists two years agocontinue to fight in the southern plains, saying people in the regionare not getting their fair share of jobs or government funding.

''That they (the main Maoists) are joining the parliament is asign of their commitment to come into mainstream politics,'' Dixit said.

''Now they will have to learn the politics of compromise.

Their biggest challenge will be that they can't use the threat ofviolence to get their way in the parliament.'' As part of the deal, aninterim constitution will be approved tomorrow by the currentparliament, paving the way for an interim legislature, officials said.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) will control at least 73seats in the 330-member interim parliament, which will include 209members of the existing legislature and 48 members of the publicselected by the two sides by consensus.

Guerrillas Soften

Elections are expected in June for an assemblythat will prepare a permanent constitution and take a final decisionabout the future of the monarchy, which the Maoists want abolished.

Analysts said the Maoists were softening their position, now preferring dialogue instead of violence as a means of persuasion.

''Even though the Maoists say they still believe in Marxism,Leninism and Maoism, they have changed their original position,'' saidLok Raj Baral, chief of the Nepal Centre for Strategic Studies, anindependent think-tank.

''This is a big transformation of a guerrilla force. This is going to be an example for the rest of the world,'' he said.

The Maoists, who have vowed not to return to war, say fighters inall 28 of their camps are prepared to welcome the UN's advance team ofdozens of arms monitors.

The United Nations wants the Security Council to authorise up to 186 monitors to help enforce the peace pact.

Meanwhile, the government has recruited 111 former Gurkha soldiersretired from the British and Indian armies to provide 24-hour watchesat the weapon storage sites until the full UN mission takes control.

The United Nations is also sending election officials to help with the poll for the constituent assembly.


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