KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Tens of thousands of communist rebels held rallies in the capital Katmandu and other cities Friday to celebrate an agreement signed with the government.

In the capital of Katmandu, about 20,000 Maoist rebels and supporters rallied at different points and merged their groups in the heart of the city. Traffic was brought to a standstill.

``We want a republic state! Long live the Maoists!'' the rebels and their supporters chanted, waving their red banner and flags.

The rebels agreed Wednesday to join an interim government, lock up their weapons, and place their fighters under U.N. supervision.

Similar rallies were held elsewhere in the Himalayan nation.

In the resort town of Pokhara, about 125 miles west of Katmandu, about 7,000 rebels gathered from the city and surrounding areas.

Most of the industries, schools and factories remained shut and transport was also brought to a halt.

Another 10,000 rebels and their supporters marched through the southern town of Bharatpur, about 100 miles south of Katmandu.

Under the agreement, thousands of rebels will be confined to camps and their weapons locked up under U.N. supervision by Nov. 21. The guerrillas will then join a new interim government to be set up by Dec. 1.

It is not known exactly how many fighters the rebels have. The government has around 90,000 soldiers.

The decade-old Maoist insurgency has killed more than 13,000 people.

The two sides reached a cease-fire and began peace talks in April, but negotiations stalled for months when the rebels refused to part with their weapons. The government insisted that they give up their arms before joining an interim government.