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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 10:16 GMT
Nepal's peace process 'at risk'
By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

A Maoist rebel stands guard as other rebels train in a photo from July 2006
The rebels have been reluctant to relinquish their weapons
Maoist rebels in Nepal have criticised the prime minister, saying they cannot yet join the government.

Under a peace accord signed last month, the rebels were supposed to join an interim administration 10 days ago.

But Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has said this cannot happen until all rebel weapons are locked up under United Nations supervision.

The rebels have warned that peace moves could be at risk unless the new administration is formed within a week.

Maverick

Three weeks ago politicians and Maoists triumphantly signed an accord formally ending the rebels' 10-year insurgency.

Since then peace has stumbled because the timetable set out was clearly too ambitious.

The United Nations said bluntly that it could not get arms monitors into the country, let alone into the Maoists' new camps, within the few days stipulated.

Prime Minister Koirala, an ageing maverick who speaks his mind when he feels like it, said on Sunday night that the rebel group would not be admitted into the government as per the accord until all their weapons were confined.

Maoist deputy leader Baburam Bhattarai retorted by asking Mr Koirala not to say such things, which he described as rather terrifying.

He warned that the whole peace process might be derailed unless the interim government was formed within a week.

The latter seems unlikely as the UN's initial batch of 35 arms monitors are only due to arrive over the next two weeks. The Maoists' indignation is probably greater because the delay in locking up their arms appears to be out of their hands.

However, they have not helped their own cause by continuing violent behaviour, including forced abductions and recruitments and their reported beating up of people they accuse of breaking their puritanical social code.


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