Nepal calls terror groups to talks for safe polls

March 22nd, 2008 - 11:02 am ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, March 22 (IANS) With less than three weeks left for a historic election in Nepal, its coalition government is trying to patch up with armed groups still on rampage, including one that killed a contestant this week, to ensure a free and fair poll. With 83-year-old Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who suffers from multiple health disorders, avowing to go on a tour of the districts next week despite his doctors advising him to rest, the government Friday sent a formal letter to four armed groups, including two that have been declared terrorist organisations by the US.

Nepal’s peace and reconstruction minister Ram Chandra Poudel said the letters have been sent to two former bands of Maoists who are on an anti-poll campaign in the southern plains - the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha led by ex-Maoist Jwala Singh, whose aides this week shot down a communist party contestant in Nepalgunj town for refusing to pull out of the fray, and the Akhil Terai Mukti Morcha, led by Jay Krishna Goit, who is demanding an independent Madhes state in the plains.

The other two groups asked to come for talks ahead of the April 10 constituent assembly election are the Terai Mukti Tigers and the Terai Cobra.

The four outfits have announced a programme of armed protests to try prevent the crucial constituent assembly election from taking place in the Terai.

They have warned they would set off explosions in key towns in the Terai and from March 25, start “physical action” against contestants and Election Commission staff.

The alliance has also called a two-day closure in the Terai as a show of strength on March 28-29.

The final attack on the election starts from April 7, when they would enforce an indefinite general strike, followed by a transport strike and road blockade on April 9-10.

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