April 25, 2006

Nepal Maoists reject king’s offer, announce blockade of capital

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's Maoist rebels on Tuesday
rejected the king's decision to reinstate parliament and said
his speech was a sham that failed to address the demands of
mass street protests.

"The proclamation is a sham and a conspiracy against the
Nepali people," Maoist leader Prachanda said in a statement in
the Nepali language. "Our party firmly rejects this."

The country's main political parties had earlier welcomed
King Gyanendra's decision to restore parliament, dissolved in
2002, and said they planned to turn a mass protest on Tuesday
into a "victory celebration."

Prachanda said the parties had committed "another historic
mistake" and encouraged the Nepali people to continue peaceful
protests until the parties declared elections for an assembly
to write a new constitution.

He called for a blockade of Kathmandu, a city of 1.5
million people, and district capitals, until demands for an
unconditional constituent assembly were met.

"Neither has this addressed the slogans being raised on the
street for a constituent assembly and a republic, nor the
12-point understanding with the seven political parties,"
Prachanda said of the proclamation.

"Our party makes a strong appeal to the people to continue
peaceful protests until elections for an unconditional
constituent assembly are announced," he said.

Maoists entered a loose alliance with the main political
parties last year to end royal rule and set out a rough roadmap
for peace.

"When we talk about the people they are going one step
ahead of the constituent assembly and they are demanding a
republic," Comrade Sunil, a senior Maoist leader, told Reuters
by telephone. "Our party heartily respects this."

Maoists control vast swathes of the countryside and have
been waging a decade-long insurgency to end the monarchy and
establish a communist republic. More than 13,000 people have
died since 1996.