Nepalese Leadership Hopeful Maoists Will Return to Government
19 September 2007
A day after Nepal's former Maoist insurgents bolted from the country's interim government, there is hope they may soon return, allowing planned national elections to go ahead unhindered at the end of this year. VOA's Steve Herman reports from our South Asia bureau in New Delhi.
Nepal's prime minister is expressing confidence that the Maoists will return to the eight-party interim government soon.
Girija Prasad Koirala on Wednesday was quoted by local media as saying the former rebels will return to the fold and that elections, scheduled to be held in two months, will not be derailed.
Suresh Chandra Chalise, a top adviser to Prime Minister Koirala, says discussions on a compromise are under way among all of the parties, including the Maoists.
"There is still a great possibility that eight parties will come out with a solution which will be palatable to all of us, including Maoists," Chalise said.
The Maoists, who held four ministerial seats, left the government on Tuesday after making 22 demands. The two most crucial are the immediate declaration of a republic - ending the country's 238-year-old monarchy - and changing the election rules in a way that would increase their chances of success.
Speaking to supporters in Kathmandu just after the former rebels left the government Tuesday, Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai issued a warning that the communist cadres might take up arms again if their demands are not met.
He warns that the Maoists will violate the election commission rules and disrupt plans for the November elections.
But prime ministerial adviser Chalise, speaking on Wednesday prior to the meeting among the parties, predicted that will not happen.
"The elections on 22nd of November will definitely be held with the participation of the Maoists. And it will be free and fair elections, internationally recognized elections," Chalise said.
The Maoists joined the government this year after signing a peace accord, bringing more than a decade of civil war to an official end. The conflict left about 13,000 people dead.
The agreement between the Maoists and the government put the fate of Nepal's monarchy in the hands of an elected constituent assembly, which would re-write the country's constitution. But the Maoists want an immediate end to the monarchy.
King Gyanendra, already living in virtual isolation in his palace, has been stripped of all political power and control of the army, and most royal assets have been nationalized.
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