Vol. 5 Num 1141 Tue. August 14, 2007  

Maoists threaten to quit Nepali govt

Nepal's former rebels threatened Sunday to quit an interim coalition government unless their demands were met, which include the creation of a republic and protection against attacks from rival groups.

Communist rebel leader Prachanda told reporters his faction would leave the coalition government, formed as part of a peace deal, and launch protests unless other members of the administration meet the demands.

"We will decide within a week or 10 days," said Prachanda, who goes by one name.

The communists gave up a decade-old armed revolt last year to join the peace process and became part of the Parliament and government this year.

The former rebels have threatened to walk out of the government several times in recent months, but Sunday's warning was likely to be taken more seriously as it came after a weeklong meeting in the capital, Katmandu, between local and national-level leaders of the communist movement.

Former communist activists have been attacked by rival groups in recent months. At least 28 communist supporters were killed during one attack by an ethnic minority group on a communist rally in March in southern Nepal.

The former rebels also want other members of the coalition government to reveal the location of hundreds of their militants missing during years of fighting.

The other coalition partners in Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's government did not comment on Prachanda's threat.

The government is to hold elections for a special assembly in November that would decide on a political system for Nepal, currently a constitutional monarchy, and rewrite the constitution.

Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Prachanda gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Kathmandu Sunday. During the conference Prachanda declared that people would revolt if the constituent assembly election does not take place on November 22. PHOTO: AFP