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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Maoists denounce UN arms approach
Maoist rebels
The Maoists rigorously defend their right to bear arms
Maoist rebels in Nepal have angrily denounced a government move to ask the UN to monitor the number of weapons held by both sides ahead of elections.

They say that the move should not have been made without consulting them.

Both sides clinched a landmark power-sharing deal last month after the king abandoned direct rule in April.

Meanwhile the government has extended the tenure of a judicial commission formed to probe alleged atrocities against pro-democracy activists.

A spokesman for the commission told the BBC that it is now expected to furnish its report by September this year.

Objections

A Maoist spokesman were quick to criticise the government for its approach to the UN.

"We strongly disagree with the government sending the letter to the United Nations without consulting us first," rebel leader Dinanath Sharma told the AFP news agency.

Victory rally in Nepal in April
Popular protests forced King Gyanendra to give up his direct rule

He said that while the rebels had agreed earlier that the UN be invited to supervise "arms management issues", their objections related to the fact they were not shown the letter written by the prime minister to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Correspondents say that while the letter has not been made public, it formally requested the UN's help "in managing the arms of the rebels and the government troops."

Another rebel negotiator, Dev Gurung, told the BBC's Bhagirath Yogi in Kathmandu that both parties have to reach an understanding first on how to involve the UN.

Mr Gurung said that it was a "sensitive issue related to nationalism".

Our correspondent says that the objections of the Maoists seem to be more a matter related to procedure rather than an issue of principle.

The government has rejected criticism of the Maoists.

"It is not a logical argument on part of the Maoists to claim that they have not been shown the letter before sending, as it was the outcome of consultations as per the understanding reached with them," Deputy Prime Minister Khadag Prasad Oli told AFP.

Correspondents say that monitoring weapons is critical to free and fair elections, as the Maoists control large patches of the Himalayan nation and are known to enforce their rule through armed threats.

Interim constitution

A spokesman for the commission investigating alleged abuses against pro-democracy activists said the two month delay was because it had not been able to gather facts related to atrocities from different parts of the country.

The commission is currently recording statements from various officials who worked under the former royal regime.

The commission, led by a former Supreme Court judge, Krishna Jung Rayamajhi, has already questioned senior members of the former royal government as well as a number of officials and advisers to the king.

Mr Acharya said the interrogation would continue over the next few weeks.

At least 21 people were killed and thousands injured during the nationwide pro-democracy movement which culminated in King Gyanendra giving up his year-long direct rule.




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