Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Insurgency Formally Ends; Govt, Maoists Sign Historic Peace Treaty

The government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) today signed a landmark comprehensive national peace treaty, which formally ends the decade-long insurgency in the country that claimed over 13,000 lives.
The signing of the treaty also paves the way for the Maoists to join the mainstream politics and join an interim government that will oversee elections to a Constituent Assembly, which will in turn prepare a new constitution and decide the fate of over 237-year-old institution of monarchy.
The treaty was signed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on behalf of the government and Maoist chairman Prachanda on behalf of the CPN-M at around 8:29pm.
Before the signing Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula read out the entire text of the treaty in front of a packed convention hall, which included both the talks team, entire cabinet, ambassadors of various countries and the media.
The agreement signed today has been divided into 10 sections. In first section is introductory section, which says the treaty will be effective from today. The second section includes the definition of terms. The third section has provisions on interim legislature and Constituent Assembly polls. The agreement has given the King no right in the state affairs and nationalise the king's property under various national trusts and national parks. The agreement also decides to convert the property of the late King Birendra into national trusts.The fourth section has mentioned the provisions about the management of arms and armies of the Maoists' People's Liberation Army and Nepali Army based on the previous agreements reached between the Maoists and the government side. The fifth section details about upholding the ceasefire.
Section six formally declares an end to the war. While section seven details about law and order, basic freedoms, and preventing military recruitment of persons under 18, section eight details about implementing the agreement and mechanism to sort out any difference in the course of implementation.Section nine details about monitoring of the peace process. The tenth and last section guarantees that no parallel mechanism of the state will be run.
The Maoists and the government have agreed to form three high-level commissions -- National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission, Truth Commission, High-level Commission for State Restructuring.Speaking after signing the treaty amidst a function organised at the Birendra International Convention Centre at New Baneshwor, Maoist Chairman Prachanda said that the agreement has given the world a message on how peace, democracy and progress can be achieved through people's power.
Committing to respect people's aspirations, Prachanda vowed to commit to implement the agreement towards the direction of the making of a new Nepal. Burying the hatchet of the past, Prachanda said he was open for discussions with all forces but warned against any bid to foil the achievement of the agreement.At the same programme attended by top political leaders, government ministers, diplomats and common people to high-profile personalities, and telecast live by major local TV channels, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala said said, "This agreement has ended the politics of violence and terror."
The country has entered a new phase and all need to work towards making a new, prosperous and peaceful Nepal, Koirala said.
The government and the Maoists needed many rounds of rigorous negotiations to reach a consensus on the draft of the treaty, which was originally scheduled to be signed on November 16 as per the historic agreement reached earlier this month.
Coincidentally, tomorrow (Nov 22) is the first anniversary of the formation of the first ever strategic alliance between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance against the King after the King assumed absolute powers through a bloodless military coup on February 1, 2005.
At least 13,000 people lost their lives after the Maoists launched an armed rebellion what they called a people’s war against the State in 1996. Thousands of families were displaced from their villages after the war began. The signing of the treaty today has also given hopes to the internally displaced people, many of whom are yet to return to their homes even though the Maoists announced ceasefire and appealed to them to return to their villages some seven months ago.
The United Nations is going to supervise the peace process in the country. The UN, in consultations with the government and Maoists, has inspected and finalized seven main camps and 21 sub-camps where the rebels’ armies and arms will be kept till elections to a constituent assembly were held.The UN mission will monitor around 35,000 Maoist soldiers and the 90,000-strong Nepali Army.UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's personal representative to ease the peace process in Nepal, Ian Martin, said the signing of the treaty has opened the doors for the UN to initiate its works towards restoring peace in Nepal.
1994: The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is founded by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, widely known as Prachanda, after a split with its parent communist party. The Maoists, who oppose Nepal's constitutional monarchy, launched people's war in 1996.
April 1998: Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala calls for talks, but Maoists turn down the offer.
Sept 2005: Maoist rebels announce unilateral ceasefire but royalist government rejects it.
November 2005: Maoists enter into loose alliance with seven main political parties to try and end king's rule.
Jan 2006: Rebels end ceasefire.
April 27: Maoists declare a three-month ceasefire and political parties promise to work with them as King Gyanendra forced to reinstate parliament and give up absolute power after widespread protests.
April 30: Koirala, sworn in as prime minister, invites rebels to talks. In June talks they agree to dissolve parliament and set up an interim administration which includes rebels.
July 4: Nepal invites the United Nations to monitor weapons held by Maoist rebels and government troops.
Nov 8: Prime Minister Koirala and rebel chief Prachanda sign a deal on supervision of rebel arms, rescuing the faltering peace process.
Nov 21: Koirala and Prachanda hammer out the fine print on a landmark peace accord. Prachanda says peace will come after constituent elections and once his 35,000 fighters are merged with the state army.

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