05/20/2008, 00.00
NEPAL
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Maoists confess their crimes on Buddha’s birthday

by Kalpit Parajuli
In Buddha’s birthplace of Kapilvastu, Nepal’s main political parties confess their sins and pledge their commitment to peace. Maoist leader Prachanda is accused however of leading a still violent group.

Kapilvastu (AsiaNews) – The leaders of Nepal’s main political parties, including, Maoists and Marxist-Leninists, have gathered in the Buddha’s birth place to celebrate his 2,552nd birthday. For the occasion they publicly confessed their crimes and pledged to guarantee the country a future of peace.

“I regret the crimes and mistakes made during the insurgency. I declare from this place (the Buddha’s birthplace) that from now onward our party will renounce all kinds of violence and intimidations,” said Puspa Kamal Daha, better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda (the fierce one), chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which just won the elections to the constituent assembly. “I hope the Buddha will help us on our way to peace,” he added.

In Kapilvastu, home to a huge statue of the Buddha and where the latter is supposed to have meditated for the first time, the secretary general of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) Jhalanath Khanal accused his rivals of remaining violent.

“I’m worried that Prachanda and his Maoist cadres are continuing their violent ways. I urge them to give up all illegal activities; only then can we help them lead the new government,” the secretary general said.

Before joining the government Maoists led a bloody 12-year insurgency that resulted in the death of more than 40,000.

Despite agreements with pro-democracy parties last year in order to remove King Gyanendra from his throne, Prachanda’s party has never given up its weapons.

If Yesterday was confession time; today (the Buddha’s official birthday) saw Kapilvastu host Nepali and international Buddhist religious leaders.

“We can spread and establish sustainable peace throughout the world if we make our commitment to the Buddha’s message of peace,” said Nepali Prime Minister of Nepal Girija Prasad Koirala through a statement read to a crowd of thousands of monks.

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