Indigenous rebels in Mexico have rejected a peace plan proposed by the government in March, saying it falls far short of the economic and political reforms the rebels demanded when they launched their uprising January 1.

The rejection will not immediately lead to a resumption of armed conflict. Leaders of the Zapatista National Liberation Army said they would seek new negotiations with the government. The talks have stumbled along since mid-January when the Mexican government declared a ceasefire after the Zapatista rebels took over much of the Mexican state of Chiapas, where aboriginal peoples are in the majority. The rebellion has since spread to other impoverished and aboriginal communities.

The rejection is a blow to Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who was seeking a resolution to the conflict before the presidential election August 21.

The government presented its 32-point peace proposal in early March. It contained some reforms to the economic and political system. But when Zapatista leaders submitted the proposal to the 60,000 civilians living in areas under their control, the proposal was rejected by 97.88 per cent of those who voted.