Nepal government invites rebels groups to talks

October 4th, 2008 - 11:51 am ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 4 (DPA) Nepal’s Maoist-led government has called on dozens of armed groups operating across the country for talks to end hostilities, official reports said Saturday.Most of the armed rebel groups are based in the southern plains known as Terai and are demanding a greater political voice and ethnic rights.

A few of the groups have also demanded a separate state with the right to self determination for ethnic Madhesi communities.

The government formed a three-member team to hold talks with the armed groups to end violence across Nepal, the official Rising Nepal newspaper said.

“The cabinet meeting decided to call on the armed groups for talks as we have underscored the need for dialogue to end hostilities,” the newspaper quoted government spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara as saying.

“The government team will initiate talks with the groups as soon as possible,” said Mahara, who is also the communications minister.

The call for talks came amid reports in Nepali media that more than a dozen small rebel groups based in southern Nepal had met in the Indian state of Bihar to hammer out a common strategy to press their demands.

Many of the armed groups have roots with the Maoist movement in Nepal, and split into minor groups after the Maoists signed a formal peace deal with the government in November 2006.

The Nepali government says the rebel groups are involved in extortion, kidnapping and murder of government employees across southern Nepal.

Dozens of people have died in the low intensity insurgency since the beginning of 2007 and several attempts to bring the rebel groups for talks have failed.

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