Nepal sees positive signs in Maoist ceasefire
KATHMANDU: Nepal’s government said on Saturday the announcement of a nine-day ceasefire by Maoist rebels for an important Hindu festival was a “positive” omen for efforts to end the deadly insurgency wracking the nation.
“It would indicate the Maoists are positive for a peace dialogue and such a move from their side should hopefully hold in the long run,” Information Minister Mohammad Mohsin told reporters.
But he said the government would have to examine closely the Maoist statement issued Friday and ensure it was genuine before issuing an official response. The rebels said the nine-day ceasefire would start next Wednesday for Nepal’s biggest Hindu festival, Dasain, which celebrates the worship of the Hindu goddess Durga who vanquished demons and saved humanity. It is the kingdom’s most popular festival, bringing together family and friends.
Newspaper commentators, human rights activists and political leaders hailed the ceasefire announcement made on a Web site and released to the media.
“The Maoist declaration of a ceasefire, however brief it may be, provides much-needed relief to the people who are fed up with the conflict,” the English-language daily, The Kathmandu Post, said in an editorial. “The respite will give all sides a chance to assess the ground reality and possibly help solve the problem through peaceful negotiations,” it said.
“It’s a very good gesture,” said Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist and Leninist (NCP-UML) general secretary Madhav Kuamr Nepal. “We’re hoping the rebels’ leaders also decide to come to the negotiating table. The Maoists have been fighting since 1996 to oust the monarchy and replace it with communist rule in a battle that has left over 10,000 dead. afp