Maoists quit Nepal government, vow to disrupt polls

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Kathmandu, Sep 18 (UNI) In a major blow to the democratic process in Nepal, the CPN-Maoists today quit the eight-party interim government after Prime Minister G P Koirala turned down their two key demands and announced they would ''peacefully disrupt'' the preparations for the coming Constituent Assembly elections.

Maoist ministers tendered their resignations to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala after the meeting of top leaders of four major ruling allies, at the Prime Minister's residence this morning, failed to convince them not to quit the government. The Maoists' action came after the rejection of their two main demands -- an immediate announcement of Nepal as a republic and proportional representation-based election system for the November 22 polls.

Mr Koirala, however, expressed readiness to withdraw the Army guards from the Royal Palace and make public the whereabouts of disappeared people, among their other demands.

Addressing a rally here, soon after pulling out of the government, Maoist deputy leader Baburam Bhattarai said they will not accept the code of conduct announced by the Election Commission and will ''disrupt all ongoing election plans.'' Also threatening to relaunch their armed struggle, he, however, did not indicate they would boycott the polls.

''We will launch peaceful protests, but we have the right to counter those who try to suppress our peaceful programme,'' he said.

Hundreds of Maoist cadres and sympathisers had gathered at major intersections before midday to proceed towards the assembly venue.

Many buses carrying the demonstrators were also seen heading towards the open air theatre.

Refraining from directly commenting on the situation in the Himalayan nation, India expressed hope that all concerned parties in Nepal would implement previous understandings and said the commmon goal must remain to enable the people to choose their own government and future.

Commenting on the reports of the Maoist ministers' resignation from the government, and their vow to disrupt preparations for the elections unless the monarchy was abolished immediately, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee described these as their ''internal issues'' and said India hoped that all the parties involved would resolve differences democratically.

''These are internal issues of Nepal, to be resolved by Nepal itself. We would hope that all concerned will implement previous understandings, that underpin Nepal's peaceful transition, and that differences will be resolved democratically. The common goal must remain to enable the people of Nepal to choose their own future and the manner of their governance,'' he said while on his way back from Seoul, after co-Chairing the Fifth India-South Korea Joint Commission Meeting there.

Meanwhile, the Indian government also sounded an alert on the Indo-Nepal border. Home Ministry sources said the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), posted on the 1500-km-long border. have been alerted and asked to keep a strict vigil along the border.

The state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim have also been alerted in view of apprehensions of increased infiltration across the border following the withdrawal of the Maoists from the government.


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