07/21/2006, 00.00
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European delegation urges Nepalese government to build stability, key to economic development

by Prakash Dubey
Seven MEPs visit Nepal where they urge the government to attract foreign investors and avoid Sri Lanka's failure to prevent a local guerrilla conflict from turning into a civil war.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal needs domestic stability. It must lock away its weapons if it wants to attract foreign investments, which are key to developing a sound and competitive economy, this according to a group of lawmakers from the European parliament that has just completed a seven-day visit to the Himalayan kingdom.

The seven-member delegation came to Nepal to study its ongoing political changes and view close-up how the ceasefire between Maoist rebels and the government is holding up and how the guerrilla is conducting itself.

For delegation head Neena Gill, the Nepalese government's priority must be "to attract investors scared away by the insurgency of the past ten year. They are crucial to developing a better national economy. This means that law and order have to be restored in the country".

Local authorities "really need to deal with the issue of law enforcement. Law enforcement is critical and should be a priority. I don't mean harsh laws, but a system that upholds the law," she said.

"Somebody coming to Nepal," she added, "must feel safe; people living and working in Nepal should be able to go about their daily business. Criminals are not the same as political factions and must be dealt with. I think that has to be a priority."

As for the possibility that Maoist rebels might join the government, Ms Gill suggested that federalism might be an option for Nepal.

"If you have a federal structure, some parts of the country could be ruled by Maoists, others by Congress or the UML, with the overall unity under the central government."

Lastly, she said Nepalis should look at Sri Lanka where a four-year-old truce collapsed into full-scale war and avoid going back to violence.

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