Nepalese prime minister calls for reconciliation of former foes

Other News Materials 23 August 2008 12:15 (UTC +04:00)

Nepal's new Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Saturday called for national reconciliation to bury past enmity that saw thousands of people killed in a decade-long armed insurgency, dpa reported.

The premier, also known as Prachanda, is a former Maoist guerilla commander who led the insurgency.

"I ask the Nepalese army, police, armed police and the National Investigation Department to forget the bitter past born out of the conflict and urge them to forge national unity and move ahead," Prachanda said in his first address to the nation since taking office last week.

The security forces were the prime target of Maoist guerillas who attacked barracks and ambushed convoys, killing hundreds of security personnel, while the security forces stand accused of killing Maoists guerillas and sympathizers in custody.

"I assure them that there will be no prejudices or bias against them," the prime minister said, vowing to promote the peace process.

"The new government's main responsibility is to complete the peace process and draft a new constitution within the next two years," Prachanda said.

He also called on the international community to help Nepal as it moved towards lasting peace and stressed the continuation of private enterprise.

"Our attention will be concentrated on addressing socioeconomic issues such as poverty, unemployment and other problems, and we will work to bring about a modern industrial economy for which a private-public partnership model will be followed," he said.

The Maoists formally gave up their decade-long communist insurgency, which left nearly 14,000 people dead, in November 2006.

They emerged as the largest party in the constituent assembly following elections in April. A new Maoist-led government was sworn in Friday.

There have been widespread concerns among the security forces that a Maoist government would retaliate against individuals who were part of the former government's counter-insurgency efforts.