Nepal's Maoists revive people's councils, threatening peace pact

Other News Materials 7 February 2008 09:26 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- Nepal's Maoist former rebels Thursday defended their decision to revive units of their parallel government which were in place during the communist insurgency.

The Maoist United Revolutionary People's Councils were reactivated across the country amid concerns that the former rebels may be taking a step back from the peace accord signed in November 2006 which called for disbanding of such bodies.

"These units have been revived to help in the election," Maoist second-in-command Babu Ram Bhattarai told a local radio station in the capital Kathmandu Thursday. "These are not parallel government units."

However, a statement issued by the Maoists said the council were reactivated to deal with the people's problems.

"Since local bodies can't be formed, our party has decided to reactivate the People's Councils to settle problems at district and local levels and to cooperate with development works," the Maoist statement said.

Local media reports also confirmed suspicions that the move was an apparent attempt to revive the parallel government structures by the Maoists.

"The United Revolutionary People's Council are being reactivated to act like a shadow governments in local level," the Nepali language daily Kantipur quoted Maoist leader Mohan Baidya as saying.

The units would be headed by Bhattarai along with two other Maoist leaders who are ministers in the interim government.

The Maoist decision to reactivate the units has raised concerns among the political parties and the United Nations Mission in Nepal.

"This is an extremely objectionable development, Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Paudel , who represents Nepali congress in government, said . " The move will push the country towards conflict once again."

The UNMIN, which is helping Nepal in its peace process, said the revival of such units violated the peace agreement between the government and the Maoists but it was monitoring the situation before making formal comments.

People's Councils operated in much of the country during the decade-long communist insurgency in the capacity of Maoist autonomous government units, mediating in local disputes and sentencing people to labour camps.

The units, along with Maoist courts, were disbanded after the Maoists joined the interim parliament and government last year.