KATHMANDU, Nepal, Nov. 21 — Nepal’s government and Maoist rebels declared a formal end Tuesday to a decade-old civil war that killed about 13,000 people in one of the world’s poorest countries.
“The government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) have agreed to convert the ongoing cease-fire into a permanent truce and declare that the war which began in Feb. 1996 is over,” said the accord, written in Nepali.
The deal provides for the insurgents to hand over their arms and be confined to U.N.-monitored camps in the run-up to elections for an assembly that will draft a new constitution and decide the future of the monarchy.It also clears the way for the insurgents to join an interim government that will oversee the elections, and for rebels to take seats with elected politicians in an interim parliament.
The rebels have been fighting to abolish Nepal’s more than 200-year-old monarchy and say the right to vote in the assembly satisfies their key demand. They have promised to honor the outcome even if the assembly decides to maintain a ceremonial monarch.
The key ingredient necessary for this accord to succeed is to make sure that the Maoists are disarmed. As long as they are armed, they are dangerous and can renege on any ‘agreement’ signed on a ‘piece of paper’ any time they wish. It is absolutely imperative for the Nepal govt and the international community to make sure that all the arms are taken away from the Maoist groups and they are disbanded as a fighting force.
It is also absolutely vital for India to keep an eye on these now unemployed Maoist cadres who might turn up as mercenaries selling their services to their ‘Naxalite comrades’ south of the border.