The Nepali Maoist insurgents and the multi-party Government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala were expected to sign early next week a landmark peace accord -- which was expected to pave the way for disarming the Maoist army and prepare a new constitution in the erstwhile Hindu Himalayan Kingdom.
Under a timetable drawn by the two sides, the rebels were expected to join a new Interim Government by December 1 next.
''We have decided that we will not be a part of the Interim Government... Mainly myself, Comrade Baburam Bhattarai and Comrade Badal,'' Prachanda said, referring to his number two -- and Maoist ideologue -- Bhattarai and yet another senior Maoist leader.
''But it has not been decided that we will not contest in the elections to the Constituent Assembly,'' the Maoist top boss told mediapersons on the sidelines of a Leadership Summit underway here.
The polls will elect an Assembly to draft the country's new Constitution and decide the future of the monarchy -- an institution the Maoist rebels have been fighting for over a decade.
The demands for the Constituent Assembly and the abolition of the Monarchy had been the main plank of the Maoists while they were participating in Nepal's newly-restored multiparty parliamentary democracy in the early 1990's.
Concluding that their ''Parliamentary experiment'' was not bearing the desired results, the Maoists launched an armed insurgency in February 1996 which over the past ten years claimed more than 13,000 lives.
Comrade Prachanda said he did not want to be President of a Nepali Republic ''but if the people of my party and Nepal insist then I will not refuse the responsibility''.
The Maoist leader -- making his first high-profile public visit to neighbour India -- said the Interim Government would include other Maoist leaders while he and Dr Bhattarai travel across the Himalayan country to ''mobilise the masses''.
''It is secondary for the core leadership to join the Government... To mobilise the masses for elections to the Constituent Assembly is principal... We think that it will be more beneficial for the political aim....'' Nepali Premier Girija Koirala's Government and the Maoists were originally scheduled to sign the peace accord earlier this week but this was delayed due to ''technical problems''. Comrade Prachanda said these were now being ''sorted out'' to allow the signing -- likely on coming Tuesday.
In the run-up to the Constituent Assembly vote, the Maoist fighters will be confined to camps with their weapons locked in containers under UN supervision. Simultaneously, the Nepal Army -- formerly the Royal Nepal Army -- will also be confined to barracks.
Comrade Prachanda is on record as having asserted that the Maoists -- who were currently observing a truce -- believed in ''the peaceful transformation of our poor Himalayan nation''. But he did not rule out ''a return to armed struggle''.
The Maoists can not remain in Government if the monarchy was retained, Prachanda has said adding they would try to ''persuade people'' they had made a mistake.
UNI DG LS RAI2022