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Nepal's communist rebels to begin disarming, join Parliament next week

Nepal's communist rebels to begin disarming, join Parliament next week

Nepal's communist rebels will begin disarming and join an interim Parliament on Jan. 15 as part of a peace process to end years of bloody conflict, officials said Monday.
The agreement was reached during a meeting between Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Maoist rebel leader Prachanda and leaders of the seven ruling parties on Monday in Katmandu, rebel spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara said.
"The process of locking up of our weapons under U.N. monitoring will begin on the same day we join the interim Parliament," Mahara said.
The existing Parliament would be dissolved on Jan. 15 and immediately be superceded by an interim legislature, which would include 73 seats for Maoist rebels, he said.
On the same day, the rebels would begin handing over their weapons at seven main camps set up to lock up their arms and confine thousands of their fighters under U.N. supervision.
Also on Jan. 15, an interim constitution prepared and agreed by government and rebel negotiators would take effect, Mahara said.
The temporary charter is to remain until a special assembly to be elected this year can prepare a permanent one.
According to a peace deal agreed by the rebels and government last year, the communists can only join the interim government and take part in elections once they have given up their arms, effectively ending a decade-long insurgency that claimed more than 13,000 lives before the rebels declared a cease-fire last year.
The first team of U.N. arms monitors arrived in Nepal earlier this month, and the next batch is expected to arrive later this week.