U.N. welcomes deal between Nepalese politicians and rebels | VailDaily.com

U.N. welcomes deal between Nepalese politicians and rebels

KATMANDU, Nepal – The United Nations welcomed an agreement between Nepal’s top political parties and its communist rebels to work together to restore democracy and end a civil war that has killed about 12,000 people.Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged King Gyanendra – who seized absolute power in February with the stated aim of quelling the insurgency – to match a unilateral cease-fire that the rebels declared earlier this year. He also strongly encouraged the rebels to extend the cease-fire and to respect human rights, according to a statement issued late Wednesday from the U.N.The rebels have stopped major attacks and held talks with the seven main political parties since announcing the three-month cease-fire in September. But they have continued to skirmish with government troops and kidnap people for indoctrination.The king has refused to negotiate with the rebels until they completely disarm.Under the 12-point agreement announced Tuesday between the rebels and Nepal’s major political parties, the two sides would work separately to pressure Gyanendra to restore democracy in the Arkansas-sized Hindu nation of about 27 million people bordered by China and India.The royal government has set a tentative date for municipal elections in February 2006, a step toward restoring democracy. But the political parties have pledged to boycott any elections held under the king’s rule. And the rebels say they will only give up violence and surrender their weapons under a new government.Rebel violence in Nepal has escalated since the king seized control of the government, suspending civil liberties, jailing hundreds of politicians and activists and banning criticism of the government and security forces.The rebels, who claim to be inspired by Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, have been fighting since 1996 to topple the monarchy.Under the agreement between them and the political parties, the two sides would reinstate a parliament, form a government, and conduct elections to establish a special assembly that would draft a new constitution – a long-standing rebel demand.The rebels said they will end their insurgency and give up their arms under international supervision if an election for a special assembly is held.Annan said he was ready to assist in any way to peacefully resolve the conflict.—On the Web: http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid1797Vail, Colorado

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