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Nepal's rebel leader makes first public appearance in decade

NEPAL: Nepal's shadowy Maoist leader made his first public appearance in a decade at a meeting in a rural district 200 kilometres (120 miles) southwest of the capital, a spokesman said Wednesday.

"Prachanda appeared in Makwanpur yesterday and addressed a general meeting with our party cadres," said Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a rebel spokesman and head of the Maoist preliminary peace talks team.

The rebel leader whose name means "the fierce one" has spoken at Maoist gatherings in the past and given interviews, but this was his first appearance in public, Mahara said.

The Maoists, who control large swathes of the rugged countryside, are engaged in a ceasefire with the new government which came into power after King Gyanendra was forced to end his 14 months of direct rule last month.

"Prachanda told the crowd that 'we will leave no stone unturned to make the current peace talks a success,'" the Maoist spokesman told AFP. Kathmandu, Wednesday, AFP

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