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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 14:01 GMT
Analysis: Maoist threat to Nepal peace
Communist flag
Rebels want to establish a communist republic
By Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu

The abrupt threat by Maoist rebels in Nepal this week to end the cease-fire and pull out of peace talks has dampened hopes of an immediate settlement to the long-running insurgency in this Himalayan kingdom.

The rebels' threat came just two weeks after negotiators concluded the third round of talks.

Although the latest round was inconclusive, the two sides ended the discussion with a pledge to resume the dialogue soon.

The threat to call off the process came when hopes were rising that the next round of negotiations would be decisive in solving the six year old insurgency which had claimed 1,800 lives so far.

The Chairman of the underground Maoist Communist Party, Prachanda, had said that the cease-fire had lost its justification because of what he called the government's insincerity in finding a peaceful solution to insurgency.

He stopped short of saying that the rebels would resume violence and abandon the peace process.

Government warning

The Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, said his government was committed to seeking a negotiated settlement.

Women mourners
The insurgency has claimed 1,800 lives so far

He warned that the rebels would be responsible for the bloodshed that might follow the imperilled peace talks.

There is no clear explanation behind the rebels' sudden change of heart.

Some analysts have attributed it to the reported in-fighting between the moderate and the militant factions of the Maoist Communist Party.

Rebels deny

The rebels deny any internal differences.

But analysts said the party Chairman, Prachanda, who is said to be in favour of talks, is under pressure from the militant faction to abandon the dialogue.

Sher Bahadur Deuba
The Nepalese PM says he wants a negotiated peace

They want to resume violence to achieve the rebels' ultimate goal of replacing the constitutional monarchy with a communist republic.

Some others believe that the Maoists' threat is aimed at putting pressure on the government to concede the rebels' demand for a constituent assembly to frame a new constitution.

Having been forced to drop a key demand earlier - the establishment of a republican regime - the rebels said they could not be expected to be more flexible.

Backed by the main opposition parties, the government has rejected the call for a constituent assembly, insisting that it has no mandate to scrap the present constitution which guarantees constitutional monarchy and multi-party parliamentary democracy.

Fears of renewed violence are growing as the two sides harden their stance, although hopes of peace are not yet over.

See also:

31 Aug 01 | South Asia
Hopes of Nepal breakthrough
22 Aug 01 | South Asia
Nepal to free Maoist rebel leader
10 Aug 01 | South Asia
Nepal peace move backed
28 Jul 01 | South Asia
Nepal Maoists tell of world plans
30 Aug 01 | South Asia
Nepal holds first talks with Maoists
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