Communist rebels say they won't kill or kidnap people involved in upcoming municipal elections in Nepal after threatening to disrupt the polls, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Thursday. Rebel plans to impede the balloting "should by no means imply that our cadres have been instructed to abduct or kill those participating in the elections," a UNHCR statement quoted unidentified guerrilla leaders as saying.
The pledge was in response to a plea by Representative of the High Commissioner in Nepal Ian Martin who wrote to the rebels asking them not to engage in violence.
The communist guerrillas have announced "special action" against election workers and candidates during the Feb. 8 municipal elections, and the enforcement of a Feb. 5-11 general strike to disrupt the polls. The rebels haven't elaborated on what the "special action" would entail.
Nepal hasn't held municipal elections since 1998. A ballot planned for 2003 was canceled because of rebel violence. The guerrillas, who claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, began fighting in 1996 to replace Nepal's constitutional monarchy with a socialist state. The insurgency has claimed about 12,000 lives, reports the AP. I.L.