09/18/2006, 00.00
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Maoist rebels thwarting activities by government and NGOs, UN envoy says

by Prakash Dubey
Rebels say they are ready for real talks with the government but in rural areas their influence is growing. NGOs are targeted for extortions and government officials are held at bay.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Maoist rebels said they are ready to start real peace talks with the government, but the situation in rural areas belie hopes for a real dialogue between the guerrilla and the central authorities. The United Nations envoy to the country, Mathew Kahane, has lamented the waning presence of the government in the countryside and the growing influence of Maoist guerrillas who are crippling government initiatives and NGO activities.

After a meeting with transitional Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, the rebels said that mutual suspicions must be allayed. Both sides announced that a round of discussions is scheduled for September 23, the first day of Dashain, Nepal's main Hindu festival. But

for Kahane a deep chasm still exist between government and rebels.

He openly complained that Maoist guerrillas were becoming more organised and negatively affecting government operations in the mostly hilly and forested countryside.

"The state presence is very limited. It (government) was ineffective before (during the armed struggle), but it's shrinking now (after the ceasefire took effect in April)".

The UN envoy said that some Maoist leaders told him that they would allow development activities by "the United Nations and other bilateral donors, but no government activities".
These revelations come amid growing reports that the Maoists are running a parallel government in most of the country's rural areas.

Mr Kahane further noted that the government has failed to reinstall its own officials after the rebels drove them out. Many of them are too afraid of going back citing "lack of security."

In failing to send its own staff, the state ha also failed to invest any of the US$ 58 million earmarked to help some 4,000 village committees.

Making matters worse, a social worker told AsiaNews on condition of anonymity that "Maoist rebels are forcing NGOs to 'donate' some 30-50 per cent of their money to the coffers of their 'People's government'. Rebel extortions are jeopardising NGOs activities against poverty."

The Maoist rebellion began in 1996 with the intended goal of overthrowing the monarchy and replacing it with a Communist regime. So far some 12,500 people have died during the conflict.

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See also
Peace in danger, Maoist rebels recruiting new combatants
Maoist “truce” allows government to adopt budget and avoid insolvency
Maoist war against President Yadav continues
Government and UN at loggerheads as peace process falls apart
Nepal asks India to free Maoists detained in its prisons


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