September 11, 2005

Maoists say Nepal truce at risk, appeal to UN

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's Maoist rebels have appealed
to the United Nations for help to maintain peace, saying a
ceasefire they announced last week was at risk because the
government was trying to sabotage the truce.

Maoist chief Prachanda last week announced a unilateral
truce for three months in a move to win the support of the
kingdom's mainstream parties opposed to King Gyanendra, who
sacked the government and assumed absolute power in February.

"We appeal to the United Nations and the international
community to raise a stronger voice for a democratic solution
and for the aspiration of the Nepali people for peace,"
Prachanda said in a statement late on Saturday.

The appeal by the elusive leader came hours after Manfred
Nowak, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission
on Human Rights, began a week-long tour to investigate cases of
torture and other rights violations in Nepal.

"We hope our ceasefire announcement will help find a
forward moving political solution and peace in the country,"
Prachanda said.

"The royal regime is instead hatching a conspiracy to
sabotage the ceasefire," he said, adding government troops were
attacking guerrillas who he said were in defensive positions.

The Maoists have always insisted the United Nations or any
other international organization be involved in talks between
the government and the rebels. But the government is opposed to
third-party involvement.

Nepal's government has yet to match the rebel truce but
says it cannot trust the guerrillas who broke ceasefires in
2001 and 2003 after talks failed.

There was no immediate comment from the royalist government
but the army says kidnappings by the rebels have not stopped
despite the truce.

More than 12,500 people have died in Nepal since 1996 when
the Maoists took up arms against the Hindu monarchy. They want
to install a single-party communist republic in the
impoverished nation wedged between China and India.

Nepal has been in turmoil since King Gyanendra took full
control of the nation seven months ago. He said he was forced
to act to stamp out the revolt that has also forced thousands
to flee and scared away tourists and investors.