| Prachanda: US threat
Kathmandu, July 2 (Reuters): The US is undermining Nepal’s peace process by warning it could cut aid if Maoist guerrillas join an interim government without giving up their weapons first, the rebels’ chief said.
“Even now, they are creating an atmosphere of suspicion and trying to stop a peaceful atmosphere from building up,” Maoist leader Prachanda told state-run Nepal TV.
The US ambassador in Nepal had said earlier that Washington would not support a government in Kathmandu that included the rebels if they continued violence in the countryside despite a two-month truce.
US ambassador James Moriarty said Washington ' a key donor ' could stop aid to the impoverished country if the rebels joined an interim government without giving up arms first.
“If the Maoists continue to use violence and then enter the government, our law says we can’t supply assistance to those who support (terrorism),” Moriarty told reporters in Kathmandu.
The US lists the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as a terrorist organisation.
The new government and Maoists are negotiating terms that will allow the rebels to join an interim government this year and participate in elections for a special assembly in 2007.
The elected assembly will then decide the country’s political future, including the fate of the monarchy.
King Gyanendra was forced to give up absolute power in April after mass protests against his rule left at least 18 people dead and thousands hurt.
Prachanda said Washington ' which supplied arms to the Nepali army ' was interfering in the nation’s internal affairs. “There is one issue before us: whether foreigners’ words will prevail over us or whether we will act on the needs of Nepalese,” he said.
About a dozen people have been killed by Maoists or suspected anti-Maoist vigilantes since May despite the truce.
The US and the United Nations have blamed the rebels for most of the violence as well as extortion and kidnappings in the countryside where they hold sway.
The Maoists have proposed their fighters and the army come under a joint command but live in separate camps.