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Former Maoist rebels to rejoin government in Nepal, ending political crisis

Former Maoist rebels to rejoin government in Nepal, ending political crisis

Five former Maoist rebels were set to be sworn in Monday as government ministers in Nepal, ending a political crisis that began when the ex-guerrillas walked out of a coalition government three months ago.
The ex-rebels agreed to rejoin the interim coalition government after the country's seven main political parties agreed last week to abolish the country's monarchy immediately after elections now scheduled for April.
The Maoists withdrew from the government on Sept. 18 demanding electoral reform and the immediate removal of the king, plunging Nepal into a political crisis and forcing the government to postpone elections initially planned for November.
Two of the five will hold key positions.
The Maoists' spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara will be Minister for Communication and Information, with control of all state-run media, while Dev Gurung is to be the Minister for Local Development, controlling city and village councils. Matrika Yadav will be Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation, while Hisila Yami becomes the Minister for Physical Planning.
"We fought for a constituent assembly for 10 years. It will be our priority to make the election to the assembly a success. As a responsible party representing the people we will do all we can to work for the nation and the people and for sustainable peace," Yami told The Associated Press late Sunday.
Four of the five new ministers had already served in the government between April and September. Only Pampha Bhusal is new to the Cabinet, and will be the Minister for Women and Social Welfare.
The decision to abolish the centuries-old monarchy and turn Nepal into a republic was endorsed by Parliament last Friday.
The monarch, King Gyanendra, seized absolute control over the country in 2005, but was forced to relinquish most of his powers following widespread protests in April 2006.
The communist rebels gave up their decade-long armed revolt last year after more than 13,000 people died in the fighting against government forces.
"The re-entry of Maoists in the government has certainly ended the political uncertainties in Nepal," said Krishna Khanal, a political science professor at the Tribhuwan University in Katmandu.
But Khanal said holding successful elections now depends on how the government handles ethnic trouble in the south.
Several ethnic groups in southern Nepal have been organizing strikes demanding greater rights. These protests have often turned violent.
Many southerners say their region has been neglected in favor of the more populated north. Among other things, they are demanding greater autonomy.


Updated : 2020-12-04 23:03 GMT+08:00