Tuesday, 19 February 2008

UDMF agrees to call off agitation; agreement with SPA likely today

Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, Feb 19 - On the seventh day of the indefinite Terai shutdown, one of the strike organisers, United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) has decided to find outlet to the Madhesi crisis through dialogue while continuing peaceful and non-violent agitation.

The senior leaders of the agitating Madhesi group UDMF, an alliance of Terai-Madhes Democratic Party (TMDF), Nepal Sadhbhawana Party (NSP) and Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF), reached a conclusion during a meeting held in the capital today to prepare for the upcoming informal talks with the Seven Party Alliance (SPA).

According to sources, the government has agreed to publicise its stance on its 6-point demand during the informal talks due to be held today.

With the SPA’s approval Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala will issue a statement mentioning the elected Constituent Assembly will finalise the demand of autonomous Madhes province, a UDMF source informed.

The demand for right to self-determination will be replaced by the agenda of Madhes right in a written form, the UDMF source added.

The UDMF has also agreed to call off the ongoing Madhes agitation, the source revealed.

After the talks due to be held this afternoon between the two sides, the initial agreements are expected to be formalised.

TMDP chairman Mahanta Thakur informed that the talks will be held at Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s official residence at Baluwatar in the capital this afternoon.

Informal consultations will take place between the PM and the senior leaders of UDMF after the talks between the seven ruling parties and the Front’s talks committee are held, he added.

UDMF had called for an indefinite strike in the Terai region from February 13 putting forth a 6-point demand including the autonomous Madhes province with right to self-determination.

On Monday UDMF put forward other demands including immediate end to suppression of Madhes agitation, free treatment of those injured during the protests and unconditional release of those detained by police during the ongoing Madhes agitation.

The UDMF agreed to talks with the government after the Home Ministry Monday evening instructed security personnel mobilised in the Terai region to restrain themselves and assured that all the demands put forth by the Front will be fulfilled.

The Home Ministry also expressed commitment to release the political prisoners of the Terai agitation, to drop all the charges against UDMF activists and to provide appropriate relief to the injured and compensation to the family of those killed during the agitation.

In a press statement today, the UDMF said that it expected the government to fulfill its commitment at the earliest.

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