Nepal Government to Temporarily Halt Military Action against Maoists

Nepal is to suspend military action against Maoist rebels during the Hindu festival period from October 20 until November 14, an official said. On Friday, the rebels announced a nine-day ceasefire from October 20 to October 28 to allow the Nepalese to celebrate Dasain, which is characterised by worship of the Hindu goddess Durga who vanquished demons and saved humanity. It is the scenic Himalayan kingdom’s most popular festival, bringing together family and friends.A group of prominent Nepali civilians headed by retired Supreme Court judge Krishna Jung Rayamajhi set up a peace commission last week and called for a truce for the festival. Violence has surged here since a peace dialogue and ceasefire collapsed in August 2003, with on average eight people dying daily in insurgency-related incidents.Prime Minister Sher Deuba has said his government wants peace and is waiting for the Maoists to reply to a recent offer of talks. But Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda or the “fierce one”, said in the statement the “inability” to reply to the rebels’ demands had “clearly shown the capabilities of the present government”. The Maoists’ demand for a constituent assembly, which ultimately aims at seeing the world’s only Hindu kingdom being declared a secular republic, has scuttled two previous attempts to reach peace. The Maoists have been fighting since 1996 to topple the monarchy and replace it with communist rule in an increasingly bloody battle that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.Full Story

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