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Nepal rebels agree on UN arms deal

From CNN's Manesh Shrestha
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KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- The Nepalese government and Maoist rebels reached an agreement shortly after midnight Wednesday that would allow the rebels to join an interim parliament and government by the end of November, a key government negotiator said.

Under the agreement, assembly elections are to be held by mid-2007 with the goal of writing a new constitution for the country.

The agreement caps two days of intense talks headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chief Prachanda, supported by negotiators from both sides as well as leaders of the ruling alliance.

"The rebels have agreed to store their arms in lockups and camp their fighters in seven different cantonments across the country," the negotiator, Shekhar Koirala, told CNN.

"The arms lockup will be monitored by the United Nations to ensure that it is not tampered with."

The communist rebels began talks with the democratic government in May, after King Gyanendra was forced to give up his direct rule following 19 days of popular uprisings across the country.

The rebels, seeking to replace the monarchy with a republic, had fought a 10-year insurgency in which about 13,000 people were killed, in an effort to establish a constituent assembly and replace the monarchy with a republic.

The Maoists have expressed their commitment to multi-party democracy, civil liberties, human rights, freedom of the press and the rule of law.

By November 26, the rebels will join an interim, 330-member parliament, where they will have 73 seats -- making it the second-largest party after the 75-seat, centrist Nepali Congress.

The rebels also have been assured they will have as much participation in the government as the Nepali Congress.


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