Nepal parties welcome rebel ceasefire

Nepal's political parties have welcomed a ceasefire declared by Maoist rebels in an attempt to settle the Himalayan nation's nine-year-old civil war.

    Politicians and rebels are united against King Gyanendra

    Renouncing violence has been a condition set by the parties for considering a proposed alliance with the rebels against King Gyanendra, who seized absolute power in February.

    "The ceasefire is going to help widen the space for the peace process and we will try to enhance this space," said Mahesh Acharya of the Nepali Congress, on Sunday. 

     

    "We will take immediate steps to restore peace and turn the ceasefire into permanent peace."

     

    The seven largest parties in Nepal have formed an alliance, led by the Nepali Congress, to restore democracy, but so far have shunned an offer by the rebels to join them in their fight against the king.

     

    Leaders of the political alliance were meeting on Sunday to decide whether and when to begin talks with the rebels.

     

    Rebel ceasefire

     

    On Saturday, rebel leader Prachanda announced a three-month ceasefire, saying his fighters would not attack government or civilian targets during the period, but would defend their positions.

     

    "Within this time the people's liberation army under our control would only retaliate if they come under attack. There will be no offensive action from our side," Prachanda, whose real name is Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said in a statement.

     

    "It is the responsibility of the major political forces in the country to provide a political solution to the problems facing the country"

    Prachanda,
    rebel leader

    The elusive rebel leader said the move would provide an opening for peace in the Himalayan nation.

     

    "It is the responsibility of the major political forces in the country to provide a political solution to the problems facing the country," he said.

     

    Prachanda suggested there was a conspiracy to push Nepal towards becoming a failed state, prompting the rebels to take action to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

     

    Tulsi Giri, vice-chairman of the king's hand-picked cabinet, said: "We have only heard about the statement but have not received any more detail. We will first review the statement and only then react."

     

    Increased violence

     

    Rebel violence has escalated since King Gyanendra seized control of the government, a measure he said was necessary to quell an uprising that has left more than 11,500 dead.

     

    Rebels have been trying to topple
    Nepal's monarchy for nine years

    The rebels claim to be inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong and have been fighting for nine years to topple Nepal's monarchy.

     

    They declared a ceasefire in 2001 and again earlier this year but negotiations with the government failed both times.

     

    The rebels have insisted on an election for a special assembly that would draft a new constitution and decide whether the monarchy should be abolished.

     

    The government, however, has demanded that the fighters give up their arms and join mainstream politics.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.