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Nepal peace accord signed

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END TO CIVIL WAR: Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala (left) and Maoist Chairman Prachanda after signing the peace agreement in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
END TO CIVIL WAR: Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala (left) and Maoist Chairman Prachanda after signing the peace agreement in Kathmandu on Tuesday.

Hopes of end to decade-old insurgency rise

Kathmandu: Nepal's Government and Maoist rebels on Tuesday signed the landmark peace accord to end the decade-old insurgency that has claimed over 15,000 lives and bring about lasting peace.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist rebel leader Prachanda signed the historic accord at a Kathmandu convention hall packed with officials, dignitaries and foreign diplomats.

The Comprehensive Ceasefire and Peace Agreement between the Seven Party Alliance Government and the Maoists came after months of negotiations that centred on how to disarm the insurgents and bring them into the Government, which they helped bring to power by supporting protests earlier this year against the dictatorship of King Gyanendra.

Constituent Assembly

The draft agreement was struck on November 8 and had been due to be signed last week but was postponed as both sides said more time was needed for ``further homework.'' A Tuesday deadline was then set. Top leaders of the seven-party alliance and the rebels signed the deal to bring the Maoists to mainstream politics and decided to constitute a 330-member Interim Parliament, form an Interim Government inclusive of the Maoists and hold elections for a 425-member Constituent Assembly by June 2007 to draft a constitution. ``This ends the more than one decade of civil war in the country,'' Mr. Prachanda said after signing the deal.

Under the agreement, the rebels are to join the interim Parliament by November 26. An interim government including the rebels is to be in place by December 1.

``With this accord, the cease-fire declared earlier this year by both the Government and the Maoists will be permanent,'' said the text of the deal.

The deal puts a stop to Maoists' acts of extortion, intimidation, recruiting soldiers and formally puts an end to the 10-year-long insurgency. The peace accord also has provisions for punishments if any one breaches it.

This is the third time that the rebels and the Government have tried to hammer out a peace deal in the Himalayan nation. Two earlier attempts in 2001 and 2003 failed.


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