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Parties Maoists one step further

 

First step of Parties and Maoists towards peace

 

 

As King Gyanendra embarked on a long visit—Africa via Dhaka where he was to address the SAARC summit--to defend the power takeover and garner international support in the second week of November, political party leaders and Maoist were in serious discussion in the Indian capital to establish peace in country.

 

That was not certainly the priority on the king's agenda. Leaders like Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Hridayesh Tripathi and Prakash (joint-secretary general CPN United Mashal) and Maoists supremo Prachanda and Baburam Bhttarai were in intense discussion in Delhi.

 

Because of King Gyanendra's ego and pretence, possibilities of reconciliation look remote. As a result, political forces felt compelled to join hands with Maoists. King's speech in SAARC summit has made clear that he is not changed.

 

Meanwhile, parties seem convinced that they have got a positive message from Maoists. The most important message among all is Maoists are eager and excited to return back to the democratic political fold. A three-month ceasefire by the Maoists has given the base for some trust. There are also indications that the Maoists decision is backed by their cadre.

 

The decision by recent plenum of central committee for return to democratic fold is encouraging enough. Although details of the plenum have not been disclosed yet, limited disclosures so far make us believe that the change in Maoists is 180 degree. It seems that the plenum took three crucial decisions:

 

§         accepting multiparty system

§         instructing Maoists cadre not to target political party cadre

§         Pave the way for election to the constituent assembly, and end the armed struggle (decommissioning under U N supervision)

 

Apart from these decisions, it is said that Maoist also agreed to procure suggestion and assistance from political parties on how to manage their army.

Maoists also face a compelling situation now, and there is combined pressure from three factors:

 

International situation and the geo-politics of South Asia have remained unfavorable for Maoist's armed struggle. Because of India's rigid hostility towards militancy in neighborhood, capturing power for Maoists would be a tough job despite the fact that they can visit the unmanned country side at ease. As a result, mobilizing cadre with the needed secrecy has become much more difficult.

 

In the circumstances, ultimately accepting the competitive multi-party democracy becomes more acceptable and easy option for that. And Delhi exercise appears an attempt in that direction. But divulging details at the very outset would have only led to the abortion of the attempt. Madhav Kumar Nepal who spent three weeks in Delhi said his stay there was mainly meant for health check-up, although the visit had been facilitated by Government of India and the friendly left parties' invitation. But some of his activities could not go un-noticed. Apart from meeting many Indian leaders, he also met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He also tried to put extra pressure on Maoists through some intermediaries in India's naxalite dominated Andhra Pradesh. This may not have skipped the attention of Prachanda and Baburam.

 

Although there is a dispute in Nepal regarding India's security perception , India feels that growth of Maoists in Nepal would not be confined within the boundary of the Himalayan kingdom, and that in collusion with Indian naxalites, they would play havoc in the security affairs in India as well. There are also fears among the left parties in India that the growth of naxalite cadre there would be at the cost of the left parties. That explains why the Indian left parties appear more concerned and serious about the need to tackle Maoists problem in Nepal, preferably through negotiation. Association of the Government of India which survives on the support of the left there is understandable.

 

In addition to the exercise going on in India, Nepalese actors have to take into consideration many other factors including International situation. The United Nations, European Union and United States of America who all appreciated how important the dialogue was as a means in a way endorsed the Delhi exercise But they are also genuinely concerned that Maoists peace exercise is not only tactical. This backing of the international community also demolishes a pro-king propaganda that if the Maoists and political parties joined hands together ever, international community will back the king. The latest round of shift in the Maoists strategy—to join the campaign for democratic republican—is no doubt the outcome of 'truce' between the two top Maoists leaders—prachanda and baburam. The agreed line at the moment is –'we can not win the state power through guns'

 

In fact, it has been a long wait to see Nepal's politics transformed into a bi-polar phenomenon. It now appears that the palace was the biggest hurdle.

 

But challenges of the pro-democracy forces are far from over. Securing continued support of the international community, and continue to strengthen the movement for democracy. Disarmament of Maoists would certainly strengthen that process. For that Maoists would need to extend the ceasefire when the deadline expires on December 3.

 

What the parties expect from the Maoists:

§         Give up armed struggle

§         Accept multiparty democracy

§         Stop attacks, intimidation, and torture

§         Adopt political stance

§         Allow freedom to political party cadres to operate

§         Struggle against dictatorship

 

What the Maoists expect from the parties

§         Parties should join back the king

§         Be positive towards political agreements

§         Stop treating Maoists like enemies

§         Accept Maoists as democratic, and peaceful force

§         Chart out common Minimum program to establish democratic republic through constituent assembly

 

What they agreed on:

 

§         Not to attack each other

§         Maoists to accept multiparty democracy

§         Decommissioning of arms under UN-supervision at the time of constituent assembly elections

§         Accept result of the constituent assembly election

§         Participation in peaceful political struggle

§         Focused struggle against dictatorial monarchy

§         Boycott municipal elections and not let it happen

 

 

Maoists admit their Short-comings–UML General Secretary Madhav kumar Nepal

 

We can convince India, United Kingdom and the European Union about our move once we come together. Even United States of America also would not oppose on it. Maoists accepting a peaceful means would make all happy.

 

§         Maoists realize that society could take a forward move under the multi-party system.

§         Nepali people genuinely want Maoists as part of the political mainstream. I moved on with the same purpose—whether in Siliguri or in Lucknow. All want the problem settled through dialogue, and that is what we are doing.

§         Ceasefire has proved that Maoist cadres follow the command of the leaders. It is a positive thing for us. Similarly, the Royal Nepalese Army under the king's command would not be acceptable to any one now.

§         Maoists have realized that they have lost people's respect, mainly because of the cadres' brutality.

§         There are however, some misconceptions in certain quarters in India. One: Maoists are in a position to capture state power through guns. Two: If the institution of monarchy ceases to exist tomorrow, the country will be disintegrated. Both are exaggerated notions. There are strong institutions which would fill in for any role that a changed situation might demand.

§         Maoists movement is not devoid of good issues. Their accepting the multi-party democracy and agreeing to decommission of arms would pave the way for inclusive restructuring of state. The Delhi dialogue has already opened the process of Maoists joining democratic system.

 

 

I changed because of the Maoists' desire: Nepali Congress Chairperson, Girija Prasad Koirala

§         I want to go on to the 'Fast Track', because of my age and health. But, it needs patience. It is not good to be aggressive. I need peace, democracy and freedom. Maoist's ceasefire is a chance. Entire international community wants political solution.

§         If we are the political power, it is our duty to attract Maoists to the democratic main stream. Yes, I do not have any faith on the guns of both sides. A third party would be necessary for disarmament.

§         Dialogue would not be enough. We need a solid institution to carry it forward. That's why parliament is needed. That should be followed by formation of an all party interim government which would conduct election for a constituent assembly.

§         This is what the 7-party alliance demanded way back in June. On the issue of going to polls for the constituent assembly, I and the Maoists are one. And army should be under civil authority.

§         My political thought has been changed because I am clear that political transformation which even Maoists are clearly in favor of, can not materialize without a constituent assembly.

§         I see quite a flexibility on the parts of the 'Maoists' leadership'. They need to be encouraged, and given a way out.

§         But the king appears quite rigid. He wants to go by the game of numbers ignoring all realities. We need to gather huge crowds, and declare restoration of Democracy ourselves if the king is not willing to do that.

 

A big leap by Maoists: Leader, Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandidevi), Hriidayesh Tripathi

 

§         Once the parties are able to get Maoists in the political mainstream, parties' image would rise high in the people's esteem.

§         Maoists quest for change is not only genuine, but it's also intense.

§         Maoists have been able to convince the masses about their sincerity.

§         King can not transform the Maoists. So it is futile to try to convince the king directly. Instead, we need to convince the international community about the need for the dialogue. We also need to convince them that the Maoists are sincere now.

§         Together, and with similar agenda Maoists and the political parties are the most dominant factor in the country's politics.

§         The war, the disgrace they faced from the people, and Nepal's geo-politics—all have contributed to realization among the Maoists.

§         We need to formulate our stance into action by February 8 (the municipal election). If the king bulldozes us, the political solution would be delayed as the king would then use the Royal Nepal Army against the Maoists with vengeance

 

Himal, November 16-30, 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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