Nepal's Government urges minority groups to join talks ahead of
Nepal has urged ethnic minority groups to come forward for talks to
discuss their demands for autonomy and a more active role in government
ahead of planned elections, a senior minister said Thursday.
Several groups from southern Nepal have organized demonstrations and
strikes over the past year to demand greater rights for minorities
there, more seats in the national legislature and a guaranteed number of
representatives in the administration.
There are about 20 ethnic minority groups in the south who say their
region has been largely ignored in favor of the more populous north and
complain government fiscal policies discriminate against them.
"I have urged them to come for talks and resolve whatever problems
and concerns they have," said Peace Minister Ram Chandra Poudel.
"We are ready to resolve the problems through dialogue," Poudel told
The Associated Press.
Poudel said it was critical to reach agreement with these groups to
end their protests and strikes as soon as possible so elections planned
for April 10 can be held.
"This is the right time for them to address their demands and we are
urging them not to let go of this opportunity," Poudel said. He said
there had not been an immediate response from the groups to the
Officials have not set a deadline for the talks, but Poudel said the
government was determined to hold elections on schedule.
The newly elected constituent assembly is expected to rewrite the
constitution to end Nepal's centuries-old monarchy and decide the
nation's future political system. The country's main political parties
agreed last month to abolish the monarchy immediately after the April