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Give up arms in a week: Nepal govt tells Maoists

By Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
April 03, 2007 11:41 IST
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Nepal's new unity government has sounded a seven-day ultimatum to Maoists and other groups to give up their weapons or face 'stern' action.

"All illegal weapons under possession by individuals or groups should be handed over to the local administration by
April 9," Krishna Sitoula, who was reappointed as Home Minister in the new interim government, told reporters.

As the armed struggle has already concluded, nobody is required to carry illegal weapons, he said on Monday.

"Nobody would be given the concession to carry illegal weapons, as the government was committed to hold the  Constituent Assembly elections in a free, fair and fearless environment," he stressed.

The interim government, inclusive of the Maoists, came into being on Sunday and is tasked with steering the nation into the Constituent Assembly elections slated for June 20.

The minister, who had received flak for his handling of the Terai violence, said, "Anyone who possesses, exhibits or carries such weapons will be punished under the law."

He also made it clear that the government would look after the security of ministers belonging to CPN-Maoist and that the former rebels 'should not go for alternate security arrangements for their ministers'. 

'Some criminal and anarchist groups were still harbouring the dream of coming back to power and were resorting to
extortion, abduction, explosion and threatening of commoners under a hidden umbrella of some organisation giving false
impression of still being in power', a statement issued by the Home Ministry said after Sitoula took charge on Monday.

The Maoists have deposited their 3,400 guns and explosives at cantonment sites under the United Nations supervision as per the arms management agreement they signed with the government.

However, they have retained some weapons, drawing severe criticism of the Maoists from other political parties.

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Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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