Nepal's Maoists refuse to disarm, but accept UN arms supervision
NEPAL: Nepal's Maoist rebels said they are not prepared to disarm but
are willing to put their army and their weapons under the supervision of
the United Nations.
The new government and the Maoists reached a landmark power-sharing
agreement last week, but Nepal's home minister has said that the interim
government cannot be formed until the Maoists lay down their weapons.
"We are not going to disarm. But to create a conducive environment
for constituent assembly elections we are willing to neutralise our
weapons and our army under UN monitoring," rebel spokesman Krishna
Bahadur Mahara told AFP.
Under last week's agreement parliament will be dissolved and power
shared in a new interim government, which is due to come into being
within a month.
In the longer term the government has pledged to hold constituent
assembly elections to form a a body that will permanently rewrite the
constitution, and most likely remove the king from politics permanenetly.
King Gyanendra was forced to give up 14 months of direct rule in
April after weeks of often bloody protests organized by political
parties and the Maoists.
Mahara said the rebels would not use arms during the constituent
assembly elections and called on the army to match the move. A ceasefire
is currently in force.
"We are expecting UN monitoring and technical assistance for the
management of arms from both sides," he said.
The question of the rebels laying down arms was not addressed in
their eight-point agreement. But Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula
said on Wednesday the issue must be addressed before the power-sharing
arrangement comes into effect.
"Formation of the interim government is not possible without settling
the Maoists' arms issues," Sitaula said.
The Maoists have been fighting to install a communist republic for
the past decade at the cost of more than 12,500 lives. Kathmandu,