KATMANDU, Nepal – Nepal's government and communist rebels signed a peace deal Tuesday to end a decade-long insurgency, paving the way for the guerrillas to join the country's interim government.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist rebel leader Prachanda signed the accord at a Katmandu convention hall packed with cheering officials, dignitaries and foreign diplomats.
"This ends the more than one decade of civil war in the country," Prachanda, who goes by a single name, declared after inking the deal.
The agreement came after months of negotiations centered on how to disarm the insurgents and bring them into the government, which they helped bring to power by backing widespread protests earlier this year against the royal dictatorship of King Gyanendra.
Under the agreement, the rebels are to join the interim parliament by Nov. 26. An interim government including the rebels is to be in place by Dec. 1.
"With this accord, the cease-fire declared earlier this year by both the government and the Maoists will be a permanent," read the text of the deal.
The two sides agreed on the cease-fire in April, after the weeks of mass protests forced Gyanendra to restore Parliament, which he had usurped 14 months earlier when he seized absolute power.
The rebels supported the protests, which were organized an alliance of opposition parties that now make up the interim government.
The rebels' fight for a communist state left more than 13,000 people dead before the cease-fire was declared.