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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 22:55 GMT
Peace deal ends Nepal's civil war
PM Koirala and rebel leader Prachanda
PM Koirala and rebel leader Prachanda celebrate the signing
The government of Nepal and Maoist guerrillas have signed a historic peace accord, declaring a formal end to a 10-year rebel insurgency.

Under the deal, the rebels will join a transitional government and their weapons will be under UN monitoring.

Both sides have been accused of human rights abuses in fighting that has left more than 13,000 people dead.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist rebel leader Prachanda signed the deal in Kathmandu.

End to conflict

"This ends the more than one decade of civil war in the country," Prachanda said after the deal was signed.

This moment marks the end of the 238-year-old feudal system
Maoist leader Prachanda

The country's multi-party government and the Maoist rebels have been observing a ceasefire for more than six months since they co-ordinated mass protests that forced King Gyanendra to restore parliament and end direct rule.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says that the agreement brings an end to years of bloody conflict.

The Maoists are now due to move into parliament and government, abandoning their guerrilla status.

Our correspondent says that the agreement has been expected for several days, but is nonetheless historic.

"The war is over," declared the chief government negotiator, Krishna Sitaula, as he read out the agreement reached after tortuous negotiations.

He said the ceasefire declared by both sides six months ago had become permanent.

Maoist arms
Arms belonging to the rebels will be monitored by the UN

Anyone committing violent acts from now on would be punished, Mr Sitaula added.

In a celebratory atmosphere, the peace agreement was made public at a large gathering of politicians, diplomats and civil society leaders in Kathmandu.

"This moment marks the end of the 238-year-old feudal system," 52-year-old Prachanda declared.

"Our party will work with new responsibility and new vigour to make a new Nepal."

Mr Koirala was equally ecstatic. "The agreement has ended the politics of killings, violence and terror and started the politics of cooperation," he said.

"I would like to thank Prachanda as well for finding a peaceful solution. Nepal has entered into a new era and it has opened the door for peace.

"Now we need to meet together in cooperation and understanding to make sure this agreement is fully implemented," the 85-year-old PM said.

The UN has welcomed the deal, describing it as "another key step forward in the peace process".

Nepal's prime minister shakes hands with the Maoist leader

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