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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 December 2006, 23:19 GMT
Nepal rebels threaten new strikes
Nepalese Maoists
The Maoist rebels agreed the interim constitution at the weekend
Maoist rebels in Nepal have threatened more strikes unless the governing seven-party coalition reverses its decision to nominate 13 new envoys.

A statement issued by Maoist leader Prachanda called for a two-day nationwide strike starting 31 December.

He also demanded the endorsement of the interim constitution and the holding of constituent assembly elections by June.

The Maoists held a general strike in Kathmandu on Tuesday, warning the move could derail the ongoing peace process.

The strike threat comes after the cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, announced on Monday the names of 13 ambassadors to countries including the US, India, Britain, Japan, Russia and China.

'Unilateral action'

The positions fell vacant after the rebels and political parties organised huge protests in April that forced King Gyanendra to surrender his direct rule.

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"The government took the decision by going against the agreements reached in the past. Our party thinks that such decisions are serious in nature, so we have given the 10-day ultimatum," Prachanda said.

Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara said that the government had taken a "unilateral action" and that "such a trend could jeopardise the peace process".

The seven-party coalition and Maoist rebels agreed the interim constitution at the weekend, paving the way for the rebels to join the government and temporarily remove the king as head of state.

Under the peace accord, the Maoists will have 73 seats in the new 330-seat parliament in return for renouncing violence.

The Maoist rebels demonstrate with supporters on the streets

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