གཟའ་མིག་དམར། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༢༡

Nepalese Government, Rebels Agree to Resume Talks

In Nepal, the government and Maoist rebels have decided to hold talks to clear away obstacles to a peace process that began in April. The peace process had raised hopes of ending a decade-long Maoist insurgency that has ravaged the country.

Officials say the new round of talks will be held before the country begins celebrations next week for its main annual festival.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist rebel leader Prachanda held a preliminary meeting on Sunday to prepare for what is being referred to in Nepal as a "summit."

The talks will focus on crucial issues that have to be sorted out before a power-sharing deal between the rebels and the government can be implemented. These include the drafting of a new constitution, and how to manage rebel arms before the country holds elections.

Ram Chandra Poudel is general secretary of the Nepali Congress, the largest party in the governing coalition. He says both the government and the rebels have agreed to allow the United Nations to supervise their arms, but there is concern over rebel insistence that their fighters will stay armed in U.N.-supervised camps.

"They have already agreed about monitoring of U.N., but they are not yet ready to separate their arms from their militants," said Poudel. "We are arguing - we are demanding - to separate their arms from their personnel."

Political observers say diplomats, private political organizations and political parties in Nepal are all uneasy at the thought of allowing the rebels to stay armed once they join an interim administration.

Officials say the meeting between the rebel leadership and the prime minister was aimed at restoring trust between the two sides. There have been bitter exchanges between the two in recent weeks, with both accusing the other of violating the terms of the truce, and delaying peace talks.

The government accuses the rebels of continued human rights violations in the countryside, while the rebels blame the government for not implementing the power-sharing deal that was reached in June.

Frustration has been rising over the slow pace of negotiations, and there have been widespread calls in Nepal for the differences to be settled.

The Maoist insurgency erupted in 1996, aimed at overthrowing the Nepalese monarchy and establishing of a communist republic. But after a popular uprising against King Gyanendra earlier this year, the communists agreed to end the rebellion, and participate in elections if a new constitution is written.