|Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chief Prachanda
Nov. 7: The Nepal government and Maoists announced tonight that they had clinched a long-awaited peace deal under which the guerrillas would share power in an interim administration.
The Maoists will surrender arms on November 21, while the army will reciprocate by returning to the barracks.
On December 1, an interim government will take over with Maoist participation. The deal is expected to be signed on November 16.
The current government will be dissolved on November 26 after which the interim one will take charge in December.
According to initial reports, the Maoists’ arms will be put under UN supervision. The settlement will eventually pave the way for national elections. The two sides also agreed not to abolish the monarchy until a new assembly, due to be elected next year, meets to take a decision.
“The Nepali people want peace and democracy. This agreement is a significant step in this direction,” Prakash Sharan Mahat, a senior leader of the Nepali Congress (Democratic), a member of the ruling seven-party alliance, told Reuters.
“The rebels will be kept in camps where cameras and other mechanisms will be installed to monitor the arms,” Mahat said. “An equal number of arms held by the government army will also be locked.”
The agreement caps two days of intense talks headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chief Prachanda, supported by negotiators from both sides as well as leaders of the ruling alliance.
Earlier, Nepal deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister K.P. Sharma Oli, who was in Delhi today, assured India that there would be no fundamental changes in Kathmandu’s foreign policy if the Maoists come to power.
Oli, who cut short his visit to join the negotiations, allayed apprehensions that the Maoists will be more tilted towards China.
He said the Maoists have committed themselves to the broad contours of the foreign policy being pursued by the alliance. The Nepalese leader was delivering a lecture organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs where he spoke about Indo-Nepal relations and the impact of the peace process on the region.
Oli said the Maoists, who have been advocating a policy of violence for the past 10 years, were even now indulging in extortion in rural areas. But if they join the national mainstream, it will send a strong signal to other organisations with ideological similarities to shun violence and take part in the democratic process, he added.
Then, the minister said, Nepal would be able to present to the world a model for “conflict management”.
Expressing satisfaction at the growth of Indo-Nepal ties, Oli said mistakes should not be repeated and appreciated Delhi’s economic assistance to bail out Nepal after the people’s movement last year.
He said an extradition treaty with India would help check cross-border crimes. Delhi and Kathmandu were close to signing the pact in October but backed out at the last moment.