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Central & South Asia
Nepal signs deal with ethnic group
The Madhesi People's Rights Forum will end protests in exchange for greater rights.
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2007 19:15 GMT
Nepal is home to a great number of ethnic groups, each with its own distinctive culture [GALLO/GETTY]

Nepal's government agrees to a peace deal with an ethnic-rights group that was fighting for greater autonomy in the south.
 
Ram Chandra Poudel, the peace and reconstruction minister, said on Thursday that the government will grant the group some autonomy in certain areas and expand their political and economic rights.
In return, the Madhesi People's Rights Forum will end their protests, he said.

The Madhesi is one of several ethnic groups that have been organising strikes, transportation shutdowns, and demonstrations in the south to demand greater rights for minorities.
The government is trying to settle several overlapping conflicts in the south so a national election can be held in November for a special assembly that will draft a new constitution and determine the country's future political system.

Upendra Yadav, the Madhesi group's leader, welcomed the pact, saying the Madhesi people "who had been oppressed for centuries will go to the November polls and shape our future ourselves".

Poudel said the government also agreed to recognise their language in offices and schools and to work on reserving government jobs for Madhesi people.

Many southerners say their region has been neglected in favour of the more populated, mountainous north.

They are demanding greater autonomy, more seats in the national legislature, and a guaranteed number of representatives in the administration.
Source:
Agencies
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