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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Nepal's Maoists declare ceasefire
Maoists in rural Nepal
The rebels have fought an armed insurgency for nine years
Maoist rebels in Nepal have declared a unilateral three-month ceasefire.

Rebel leader, Prachanda, said the Maoists would "not launch any offensive" during the truce, which began on Saturday.

In the past few months the rebels have been trying to woo political parties who are also opposed to the rule of King Gyanendra.

The king assumed direct power in February, saying politicians had failed to tackle the nine-year insurgency.

It is the responsibility of the major political forces to provide a political solution
Prachanda, Maoist leader

In a statement issued on Saturday, Mr Prachanda said his forces would remain in a state of what he called "active defence" and would not launch any fresh offensive unless attacked.

He warned, however, that if the army increased its military activities or expanded its camps, his party would break its ceasefire and launch what he called an offensive of even higher level.

The Maoist chairman said his party hoped the decision would encourage all political forces and the United Nations to find a solution to the country's problems.

About 12,000 people have died since the Maoists began their armed struggle to replace the monarchy with a people's republic.

Apart from short truces during festivals, the last ceasefire was two years ago and lasted eight months.


An alliance of seven opposition parties has been engaged in a nationwide peaceful movement against February's royal takeover.

Baburam Bhattarai
The Maoists reinstated Bhattarai, who favours political talks

The parties have in the past said the Maoists must renounce violence to be brought into the political framework.

However, there have been moves in recent months towards a more united approach against the king.

In July, the rebels reinstated a suspended leader, Baburam Bhattarai, to the party's top body, the politburo special committee.

Mr Bhattarai had reportedly fallen out with Mr Prachanda over closer ties with opposition parties, which Mr Bhattarai supported.

On 28 August, the opposition alliance said it would form a committee with a view to holding a dialogue with the Maoists soon.

And on Tuesday, Nepal's largest opposition party, the Nepali Congress, announced a move away from its support for constitutional monarchy.

Mr Prachanda said that decision had helped strengthen the political basis for collaboration between his party and the alliance.

Nepali Congress spokesman, Arjun Narsingh KC, said on Saturday of the ceasefire: "We take this very positively."

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says King Gyanendra will be in a quandary about how to respond to the ceasefire.

This week the king made an offer of talks with the political opposition but said it had to promise commitment to good governance, fiscal discipline and a fight against terrorism.

See Maoist rebels patrolling in Nepal

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