On 10 January 1990, the United Left Front (ULF) was formed,:331 which, together with the Nepali Congress, was the backbone of the movement for democratic change. However, communist groups, uncomfortable with the alliance between the ULF and the Congress Party, formed a parallel front, the United National People's Movement (UNPM). The UNPM called for elections to a constituent assembly, and rejected compromises made by ULF and the Congress Party with the royal house. In November 1990, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre), or CPN(UC), was formed, and included key elements of the UNPM. On 21 January 1991, the CPN(UC) set up the United People's Front of Nepal (UPFN), with Baburam Bhattarai as its head, as an open front to contest elections.:332 The CPN(UC) held its first convention on 25 November 1991,:332 adopted a line of "protracted armed struggle on the route to a new democratic revolution", and decided that the party would remain an underground party. In the 1991 election, the UPFN became the third-largest party in the Nepali parliament. However, disagreements within the UPFN surged, regarding which tactics were to be used by the party. One group, led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal (alias Prachanda), argued for immediate armed revolution, while the other group, led by Nirmal Lama, claimed that Nepal was not yet ripe for armed struggle.:332
On 22 May 1994, the CPN(UC)/UPFN was split in two. The militant faction later renamed itself the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or CPN(M). This faction described the government forces, mainstream political parties, and the monarchy, as "feudal forces". The armed struggle began on 13 February 1996, when the CPN(M) carried out 7 simultaneous attacks over 6 districts.:333 Initially, the Nepali government mobilized the Nepal Police to contain the insurgency. The Royal Nepal Army was not involved in direct fighting because the conflict was regarded as a policing matter. On 25 July 2001, the government of Sher Bahadur Deuba and the Maoist insurgents declared a ceasefire, and held peace talks from August to November of that year.:335 The failure of these peace talks resulted in the return to armed conflict, beginning with the Maoist attack on an army barracks in Dang District in western Nepal, on 22 November.:335 The situation changed dramatically in 2002, as the number of attacks by both sides increased greatly, and more people died than in any other year of the war.:309
The government responded by banning anti-monarchy statements, imprisoning journalists, and shutting down newspapers accused of siding with the insurgents. Several rounds of negotiations, accompanied by temporary ceasefires, were held between the insurgents and the government. The government categorically rejected the insurgents' demand for the constituent assembly elections. At the same time, the Maoists refused to recognize the continued survival of constitutional monarchy. In November 2004, the government rejected both the Maoists' request to negotiate directly with King Gyanendra rather than via Prime Minister Deuba, and the Maoists' request for discussions to be mediated by a third party such as the United Nations.
Throughout the war, the government controlled the main cities and towns, whilst the Maoists dominated the rural areas. In August 2004, the Maoists declared a week-long blockade of Kathmandu city which was later called off.
On 1 February 2005, in response to the inability of the relatively democratic government to restore order, King Gyanendra seized full control of Nepal in an attempt to definitively end the insurgency. He proclaimed, "democracy and progress contradict one another... in pursuit of liberalism, we should never overlook an important aspect of our conduct, namely discipline." As a result of this takeover, the United Kingdom and India both suspended their material support for Nepal.:337 On 5 May 2005, in response to the takeover by King Gyanendra, 7 political parties began talks to form a Seven Party Alliance (SPA).:338 On 22 November 2005, with support from the Indian government, Maoist rebels and the SPA jointly issued a 12-point resolution, which described autocratic monarchy as the main obstacle to "democracy, peace, prosperity, social upliftment and an independent and sovereign Nepal", and included a commitment to hold elections to a constituent assembly and for the Maoist rebels to renounce violence.:339
In 2006, violent conflict decreased significantly, and instead, resistance transformed to non-violent pro-democracy demonstrations.:339 Throughout April 2006, pro-democracy demonstrations were held across Nepal, and 19 demonstrators were killed, over 400 protesters were arrested, while dozens of others were injured. On 21 April, King Gyanendra announced that he would return governance to the SPA, but this offer was rejected by both the Maoist rebels and the SPA.:339 On 24 April, King Gyanendra announced that he would also reinstate the House of Representatives, which satisfied the SPA, who formed the reinstated House of Representatives.:339 On 9 August, the government and the Maoist rebels agreed to accept the United Nations to monitor the peace process and to manage the arms of both sides.:340 On 21 November, the government, the SPA, and the Maoist rebels signed the Comprehensive Peace Accord, which formally ended the Civil War.:340
The Civil War forced young workers to seek work abroad, predominantly in the Persian Gulf and south-east Asia. The economy of Nepal is still heavily dependent on the infusion of foreign income from these migrant workers. As a result of the Civil War, Nepal's tourism industry suffered considerably.
rebels wait on top of a hill in the Rolpa district for orders to relocate