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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 November 2006, 13:32 GMT
Jubilation over Nepal peace pact
People read newspapers reporting on Nepalese government and Maoist rebels signing peace agreement in Kathmandu
The media has welcomed the pact
Jubilation across Nepal has marked the signing of a landmark peace agreement between the government and the country's Maoist rebels.

There have been spontaneous public celebrations and the local media have welcomed the deal.

The accord, signed on Tuesday, formally ended a 10-year insurgency that killed 13,000 people.

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

People lit peace candles in public places immediately after Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and the chairman of the Maoist communist party, Prachanda, signed the agreement late on Tuesday.

The government has declared a public holiday on Wednesday to mark the success of the peace process that had been in place since April.

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

Nepali newspapers hailed the deal with banner headlines and front-page editorials.

The Kathmandu Post said that the agreement heralded a new dawn of peace, progress and prosperity.

Neighbouring India, the United States and the United Nations have joined the chorus of welcome.

India's external affairs ministry spokesman said India hoped that the agreement would end the politics and culture of violence.

The US embassy in Kathmandu expressed the hope that the peace agreement would place Nepal on the path of lasting peace and democracy.

Both sides have been accused of widespread human rights abuses in the conflict.

'Historic'

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 palace rule.

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

Celebrations in Kathmandu after the peace deal
There were spontaneous celebrations in Kathmandu
The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says the agreement had been expected, but is nonetheless historic.

It 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," Maoist leader 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 co-operation," the 85-year-old prime minister said.

"Now we need to meet together in cooperation and understanding to make sure this agreement is fully implemented."


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Nepal's prime minister shakes hands with the Maoist leader



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