Nepal government tells Maoist rebels it has authority to hold talks
The government huddled for three days to draft a response to rebel leader Prachanda who last week declined to accept Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's invitation to talks, questioning whether King Gyanendra and the army would support a peace process.
"All government bodies including security forces are under the control of the present government -- from the constitutional, political and practical aspects," said a government statement read by Information Minister Mohammed Mohsin.
Cabinet sources said the communists in the coalition pushed unsuccessfully for the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire to revive peace talks. More than 10,000 people have died in the civil war since 1996.
Prachanda, which means "The Fierce," had also demanded that any peace talks discuss ways to set up a special assembly to redraft the constitution. The issue had helped scuttle the last peace talks in August 2003.
"Let the Maoists come to the negotiating table and we can solve all issues," Mohsin said when asked about the assembly. "We do not want to make an ad hoc commitment."
Deuba's four-party government is the most broadly supported government to rule Nepal since 2002 when the prime minister was fired by King Gyanendra who handpicked a new cabinet.
The king reappointed Deuba in June after months of pro-democracy protests.
Copyright (c) 2004 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 09/30/2004 11:00:33
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