The Nepalese government has signed a peace agreement with an outlawed Maoist splinter group after it agreed to renounce violence.
The three-point agreement between the government and the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), a breakaway faction of the Unified Maoist party known for its violent activities, was signed at a ceremony in Kathmandu, according to a joint statement issued by Home Affairs Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and CPN spokesperson Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma.
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The government agreed to lift a ban on the group, release all their party members and supporters in jail and drop all legal cases against them, while the group agreed to give up all violence and resolve any issues through peaceful dialogue, the government said in a statement on Thursday after the peace talks.
Details of the agreement would be made public at a joint ceremony on Friday with Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli and the leader of the rebel group Netra Bikram Chand, who is better known by his rebel name, Biplab.
The CPN split from the Unified Maoists, who fought the government troops between 1996 and 2006, leaving more than 17,000 people dead, hundreds missing and many more maimed.
A peace accord was signed in November 2006, when the Maoists gave up their armed revolt, agreed to the United Nations-monitored peace talks and joined mainstream politics.
In 2019, Prime Minister Oli’s government declared the CPN a criminal outfit over the party’s alleged involvement in bombings, extortion and killing of civilians.
Several of its leaders are currently in jail, while many others face criminal charges.
Thursday’s agreement has raised hopes of lasting peace in the small Himalayan country that continues to witness sporadic cases of violence nearly 15 years after the end of the Maoist rebellion.
The agreement comes at a time when the prime minister and his government are facing a political crisis since a split developed in his own ruling party and the Supreme Court reinstated the parliament he had dissolved.