Nepal parties hope to build on deal on ex-rebels

The leaders of the country`s four main parties agreed to integrate one-third of the former Maoist rebels into the Army.

Kathmandu: Nepal`s main political parties said on Wednesday that they hope a historic agreement over demobilising former rebel fighters will reinvigorate negotiations and create momentum for reaching a full peace deal.

The leaders of the country`s four main parties agreed late Tuesday to integrate one-third of the former Maoist rebels into the Army and give cash to the remainder to start new lives.

The agreement removed a major stumbling block in efforts to finalise a peace agreement following the bloody Maoist insurgency that ended in 2006.

The parties also agreed to finish a draft of a long-delayed new Constitution within a month.

Maoist party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the agreement should give reassurance that the South Asian nation was on the right track.

"The agreement is what the people have been anticipating for a long time. It is now our challenge to complete the peace process," said Dahal, whose party of former rebels is now the largest in Parliament.

Under the agreement, 6,500 of the 19,000 former Maoist rebels who had been demobilised and living in camps for five years will be integrated into the national Army, but only in noncombat roles.

The remaining ex-fighters will be offered a rehabilitation package with up to 900,000 rupees (USD 11,500) in startup cash to begin their new lives.

"It took years to reach this point and now the path is open," said Pradeep Gyawali, of Nepal`s Marxist party.

The new deal put pressure on the Maoists and their recently installed coalition government to quickly finish the job of restoring normalcy to a country still recovering from war, mired in poverty and suffering from political paralysis.

"It is now up to the Maoists as the party leading the government and key role player in the peace process to steer thing forward in the right direction and soon. We have done all we can," said Prakash Man Singh of the Nepali Congress party.

Bureau Report

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