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Central & South Asia
More seats for Nepal ethnic group
Minister accuses supporters of Nepal's king of trying to exploit Madhesi grievances.
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2007 10:43 GMT
Sitaula accused supporters of Nepal's king of trying to exploit Madhesi grievances [AP]

Nepal has agreed to give more parliamentary seats to its ethnic Madhesi people, the country's home minister has said. The move comes after two weeks of anti-government protests by the group left eight people dead.
 
Madhesis, who live in Terai in the south, say they have been sidelined after a peace pact between the government and Maoists.
Krishna Prasad Sitaula said on Monday: "We plan to redraw the seats according to the population in the Terai and the Kathmandu Valley, where population density is higher.
 
"The representation will increase from Madhesh [Terai] and Kathmandu."

'Conspiracy'

The Madhesi want greater autonomy for Terai and have demanded more positions in parliament, the government, security agencies and political parties.

Sitaula accused supporters of Nepal's King Gyanendra of trying to exploit the group's grievances to derail the peace pact with the Maoists.

Feature

Al Jazeera visits the Madhesi's home in the Terai region of Nepal


The agreement in November ended a 10-year civil war between the government and Maoist fighters.

The king was stripped of his powers after mass protests ended his absolute rule last April.

Sitaula said: "I feel the king [is behind a] conspiracy to try to create the feeling that there can be no peace in Nepal without royal rule."

Curfews

More than 100 people were wounded in the unrest over the last two weeks and authorities have placed several towns in Terai under curfew.

On Monday, Hridayesh Tripathi, Nepal's commerce minister and a member of the Madhesi community, resigned, saying the governing alliance was not serious about addressing their grievances.

The Madhesi people want greater
autonomy for the southern Terai region
Despite making up about 30 per cent of Nepal's population of 26 million, Madhesis occupy only about 15 per cent of seats in parliament.

They are ethnically, culturally and linguistically closer to people living in the neighbouring Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh than to Nepalis living in the hills and mountains.
   
The Maoists, who are due to join the interim government next month, want the monarchy abolished.

The assembly will also decide whether the country is to have a federal structure as demanded by the Madhesis.

Source:
Agencies
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