Nepal government to begin peace talks with Terai rebels

March 27th, 2008 - 7:01 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, March 27 (IANS) With 13 days left for a crucial national election, Nepal’s multi-party government will start peace talks with armed groups from the southern plains Friday in a move that revives memories of the negotiations begun with former Maoist guerrillas two years ago that ended a decade-old civil war. The Maoist insurgency inspired over a dozen armed organisations to begin separate underground movements in the country’s Terai plains along the Indo-Nepal border, causing blood to be spilled continuously even after the Maoists declared an end to their insurgency and joined the government.

The Terai groups, some of whom are former Maoists, had threatened to disrupt the constituent assembly election scheduled for April 10.

Peace and Information Minister Ram Chandra Poudel told the media Thursday that four armed groups have responded to the government’s call to start negotiations.

The groups are the Madhes Mukti Tigers, Terai Cobras, Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha and Samyukta Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha.

The talks are to be held at an yet undisclosed place in the temple town of Janakpur in Dhanusha district.

One representative each of the seven ruling parties Thursday headed for Janakpur to take part in the dialogue.

The rebels are asking for amnesty and release of their imprisoned cadres.

One of them has acknowledged responsibility for the murder of a communist candidate in the Terai this month while another claimed to have caused the serial bomb blasts in Kathmandu last year that killed three women.

Despite the overture, there is a growing doubt if the twice-postponed election would be held in a free and fair manner.

There are daily reports of Maoists clashing with the other ruling parties.

A Maoist cadre was killed Thursday in a skirmish with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress party in Solukhumbu district in northern Nepal.

The former guerrillas again clashed Friday with the same party in Dhading in central Nepal and threw brickbats at a rally of the largest communist party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, in remote Dolakaha district, also in northern Nepal.

There is fear that the Maoists would go on the rampage if they lose the key constituent assembly election.

Maoist supremo Prachanda has been saying in his poll campaign rallies that his party would start another revolt if it is defeated. Though he says the movement would be peaceful, his assurance has few takers.

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