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Friday, March 9, 2007 : 0300 Hrs


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    Nepal Govt., Maoists reach accord; rebels to join Cabinet

    Kathmandu, March 9 (PTI): Inching towards forming a joint government, Maoists and the political leadership in Nepal have reached an agreement under which the rebels would be included in the Cabinet and all property seized by them returned to the owners.

    Under the agreement reached at during talks with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala at his residence in Baluwatar on Wednesday, Maoist chief Prachanda agreed that the rebels would return the land seized by them and houses belonging to various people and create a conducive atmosphere to hold elections to the Constituent Assembly.

    Besides this, a peaceful atmosphere to return displaced persons to their homes would also be created, sources close to Koirala said.

    The Prime Minister agreed to include Maoists in the Cabinet soon. The government has also agreed to release some five dozen Maoist cadres who are still languishing in different jails, the sources said.

    During the meeting, Prachanda furnished a list of 61 Maoist cadres languishing in various prisons of the country and the Prime Minister has agreed to give directives to immediately release them, Baburam Bhattarai, the number two leader of the CPN-Maoist, said.

    Prachanda is likely to issue a statement today instructing his party cadres to return all seized property and to help create conducive atmosphere for polls, Sekhar Koirala, the Prime Minister's nephew and Nepali Congress central member, said.

    Koirala said until the Maoists express commitment to create a peaceful atmosphere and publicly commit that possessing weapons is punishable, they can't be included in the government.

    Prachanda's statement will decide how soon they will be included in the government, he added.

    However, the talks held between Koirala and the Maoists chairman was positive and Prachanda is likely to issue a statement today, he said.

    The two top leaders also discussed the issues relating to cabinet formation and in principle agreed to distribute the portfolios equally between the major parties viz Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Maoists, sources close to Nepali Congress said.

    The Maoists have claimed the post of deputy Prime Minister in the new cabinet as the posts of Prime Minister and Speaker in the House of Representatives have already gone to the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

    Koirala, however, turned down Prachanda's proposal to abolish monarchy through a two thirds majority votes in the Parliament saying that the issue should be settled during Constituent Assembly polls.


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