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Nepal Rebels Call Off Four-Month Truce

  • Anjana Pasricha

In Nepal, Maoist rebels say they will not extend a unilateral four-month truce. The cease-fire had helped reduced violence in the decade-long rebellion in the Himalayan country.

The rebels say they are being forced to abandon the cease-fire and go back on the offensive in self-defense.

In a statement, rebel leader Prachanda said that he respected and understood recent appeals for a truce extension from Nepal's political parties and the United Nations. But he says such a step would have been suicidal for the rebels because government forces are continuing to attack them.

The rebels declared a cease-fire in September for three months, then extended it for another month. But King Gyanendra's royalist administration failed to match it.

The editor of Samay magazine in Kathmandu, Yuvraj Ghimre, says there is disappointment across the country. Many people had hoped that the cease-fire would pave the way for negotiations between the two sides.

"There is disappointment, there is frustration and there is anger, this time more with the king," he said. "People are angry with the king, political parties are angry with the king that if the government had reciprocated the cease-fire, at least peace could have been explored, and this situation of less violence, more security would have lasted a bit longer."

The National Human Rights Commission in Kathmandu says the cease-fire brought temporary respite to the country as killings and bombings had dropped sharply in the past four months.

But now political analysts fear a fresh surge of violence as the government prepares to hold municipal elections next month. The rebels have vowed to disrupt the polls.

Mr. Ghimre says the situation appears bleak in a country that on the one hand has been scarred by the Maoist rebellion, and on the other by curtailment of many rights by the royalist administration.

"One, there could be renewed spate of violence from the Maoist side, two there could be more suppression from the government, more suppression of human rights and suppression of press freedom also," he said.

Seven political parties that formed a loose alliance with the Maoists in November say their commitment to work peacefully with the rebels to end the king's rule stands despite the end of the truce. The king grabbed power and ousted the prime minister last February, saying he would crush the rebels. The move alienated political parties and many people.

More than 12,000 people have been killed in the country since the Maoists began fighting a decade ago to establish a communist republic in the country.

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