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Appointment of New PM Will Not Bring Peace,  Nepal Rebels Say - 2004-06-04

In Nepal, Maoist rebels and major political parties say the king's appointment of a new prime minister will neither return peace nor end political turmoil in the country.

After taking over as prime minister this week, Sher Bahadur Deuba set out his priorities: to establish a government that includes major parties and to reach a new cease-fire with Maoist rebels in the country.

But within a day of being in office, both those goals appear difficult.

In a statement, Maoist rebels rejected Mr. Deuba's appointment and threatened to intensify their eight-year struggle to oust the monarchy. They say his appointment does nothing to meet their demand to redraft the country's constitution.

And the largest political party, the Nepali Congress, says it will continue its campaign for restoration of democracy.

Nepal's political parties have been campaigning for King Gyanendra to give up executive powers, which he assumed two years ago, and install a multi-party government.

In a move to placate the political parties, King Gyanendra appointed Mr. Deuba as prime minister. He was the man the King had sacked two years ago, triggering widespread political protests.

But prominent politicians say Mr. Deuba is now returning to power as the king's appointee, and not parliament's. As a result, the political standoff between the king and the political parties has not ended. Lok Raj Baral is with Nepal's Center for Contemporary Studies in Kathmandu.

"Most of the parties which were on the streets have not come out in support of the new government," said Lok Raj Baral. "No parties are joining the government at the moment." However, political analysts say King Gyanendra has succeeded in dividing the five-party political alliance against him, because at least one major party - the Communist Party - is considering lending Mr. Deuba its support.

The three-way struggle for power between the Maoists, the political parties and the king has raised fears in the international community about the future of one of the world's poorest countries.

The Maoist campaign to turn Nepal into a communist republic has cost more than 8,000 lives since 1996 and brought havoc to the countryside. The king's dismissal of an elected government has suspended democracy in the country, making it more difficult to negotiate an end to a rebellion that is seeking his ouster.