Kathmandu, Mar 5 (efe-epa).- The Nepal government on Friday signed a peace pact with a Maoist rebel group that was once involved in violent attacks, extortion, and bombings in the Himalayan country.
Netra Bikram Chand, general-secretary of the banned radical outfit, made his first public appearance in Kathmandu in two years to formalize the truce.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa attended the ceremony to sign the pact.
Chand said he would abide by the three-point agreement.
The government has pledged to revoke the ban on the rebel group, release its members and supporters from prison and drop all charges against them.
Over 2,000 leaders and carders from the group face various charges and some of them are in prison.
The agreement was signed by Thapa and Chand’s comrade Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma.
Prime Minister Oli said Nepal had entered an era of peace.
“Nepal does not have any violent conflict. It means Nepal is a peaceful country and peace prevails here,” he said.
Oli also hailed Chand for “undertaking such a daring step.”
Chand and Thapa shared a great camaraderie as active members of the Maoist party during the violent insurgency that started in 1996.
Chand went underground after the government banned his party’s activities in March 2019 following twin blasts in Kathmandu. The bombing killed one person.
On Friday, he appeared in a formal black suit with a white shirt and black shoes as dozens of Oli supporters welcomed him in the capital.
Chand was once a loyal lieutenant to Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who led the decade-long Maoist insurgency that killed around 17,000 people.
He led a rebel breakaway faction and formed his Communist Party of Nepal, blaming Prachanda for leaving the “people’s war” halfway.
Chand and Thapa parted ways with Prachanda in 2012, six years after he signed a peace accord with the government that ended a decades-long civil war and saw the Maoists joining the political process.
Thapa, however, returned to Prachanda’s Maoist party in 2016. In 2018, he was appointed the home minister in the Oli government.
The truce with Chand’s outfit came after Prachanda withdrew support to the government and formed a separate alliance, alleging that the prime minister retracted on his commitment to the power-sharing deal.
The two allies formed a ruling combine in February 2018 after winning a majority in the general elections. They merged in May that year to give their government the most popular support in Nepal in the last two decades. EFE-EPA