11/08/2006, 00.00
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Nepal: peace deal signed between government and Maoists

The deal stipulates disarmament of the militias and the regular army as well as the formation of a new joint ad interim government, which will be in place by 1 December. A new Constitution will be drafted.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Nepal's government and Maoist rebels signed a historic peace deal this morning that will see formation of an interim administration and disarmament of combatants on both sides. The signing puts an end to a bloody rebellion that has dragged on for around 10 years.

Negotiators said the new government will be formed by 1 December. The drafting of the new Constitution will follow shortly afterwards. It is set to review the powers of the monarchy, one of the key sticking points for the Maoists.

Government negotiator, Ram Chandra Poudel, said the move "has opened the doors to build a new Nepal". Ananta, leader of the Maoist People's Liberation Army, said: "With this agreement Nepal has entered into a new era."

According to the terms of the accord, the Nepali Congress party, the country's largest, would get 75 of the 330 seats in the new parliament. The Communist Party of Nepal (unified Marxist-Leninist), and the rebels would each have 73 seats. The remaining seats would be divided between the five other parties currently on Nepal's political scene.

Home Minister, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, said: "The weapons of the Maoists will be locked up and a similar amount of Nepal Army weapons will also be locked up in stores guarded by UN troops." Militia disarmament had been a major obstacle in the long drawn out process of political rapprochement: the war has claimed at least 12,500 lives since 1996.

The agreement signed today is the country's third bid for peace: the first two, signed in 2001 and 2003, failed and the country plunged back into violence.

Some analysts say today's accord should last, given that it paves the way for a multi-party government that had significantly reduced the powers of King Gyanendra, held by the rebels to be largely responsible for the conflict.

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Nepal likely to be left without Constitution
UN report on peace process causes row between government and Maoists
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