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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

NEPAL: Rebels and government agree to hold elections

KATHMANDU, 10 October (IRIN) - Maoist rebels and Nepal's interim government have agreed to hold elections for a constituent assembly by June 2007, negotiators from both sides said on Tuesday at the end of three days of high-level peace talks.

Maoists have been waging a 'people's war' against the Nepalese state since 1996 in a conflict that has left 14,000 people dead.

In May, a new interim government was formed by the country's seven leading political parties after a successful national campaign to put an end to the absolute rule of the Nepalese monarch, King Gyanendra.

Since then, a mutual ceasefire has been in place and a series of talks have been held to try and restore peace in the Himalayan kingdom.

"We feel that we will eventually resolve all our problems by reaching a final decision in time," said senior Maoist leader and negotiator Krishna Mahara, adding that thorny issues like arms management, forming an interim government and the future of the monarchy had not been thrashed out.

"All of us are hopeful that we will definitely reach a historical decision on Thursday and then move towards building a new Nepal," Mahara said.
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