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Siddhi B. Ranjitkar: Understanding with Maoists

Understanding with Maoists


By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

"The fate of human race depends on its moral strength."

- Albert Einstein*

Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) leader, Madhav Kumar Nepal and his associates have been engaged in dialogue with the Maoists in the country and out of the country already for some time. Mr. Nepal has visited Lucknow and New Delhi several times for talks with the Maoists in 2005. He even once went to Silgudi, India to meet with the Maoist leaders. So, he had courting the Maoists hoping to bring them to the mainstream politics. Nepali Congress Leader, Girija Prasad Koirala also visited New Delhi ostensibly for routine health check-ups but obviously for talks with the Maoist leaders several times in 2005.

The talks between the Maoist leaders and the seven-party alliance leaders were held in the Indian government guesthouse in New Delhi in November 2005. None of the leaders had been ready to accept the fact of meeting with the leaders until they reached the understanding between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists, and was made public on November 22, 2005.

The Nepalese intelligence reported to the Crown Prince presiding over the Rajparishad (Privy Council) that Maoist leader Prachand and his associates Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai and Krishna Bahadur Mahara sneaked out of the Dang Valley for talks with the leaders of the seven-party alliance in New Delhi in November 2005.

Before making a surprise visit to New Delhi in the third week of November within a week after returning from there, Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal held a series of meetings with British Ambassador Keith Bloomfield, American Ambassador James Moriarty and Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee in Kathmandu obviously in an effort to find a solution to the Nepal's continued political impasse. Mr. Nepal visited New Delhi again less than a week after he returned from an extended three-week long tour of India where he had met with several Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

American Ambassador James Moriarty was already there. He has been active in coordinating a uniform international approach to the resolving the political problems in Nepal for some time. Mr. Moriarty said that his visit was a regular one for consultations with the Indian officials concerning the political development in Nepal. Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal insisted on that his visit was for a "heart check-up"; Nepali Congress President and former Prime Minister, Girija Prasad Koirala was already there also for a "health check-up". Other leaders of the seven-party alliance went to New Delhi on one pretext or another.

Nobody had any idea of what the Indian Officials had played in holding the talks between the seven-party alliance leaders and the Maoist leaders and in bringing them to a common understanding. The Indian Foreign Ministry denied any information about the latest meetings. However, it was hard to believe in what the Foreign Ministry said, as Nepalese leaders visiting New Delhi was widely known to all through the Indian and the Nepalese media.

The denial of the Indian officials of the knowledge of the Nepalese rebels visiting New Delhi must have come from the legal difficulty as the Indian Government had declared the Maoists as terrorists well before the Nepal Government had done. India labeled the Maoists as "terrorists" in September 2001, when the Nepalese government was engaged in peace talks with them. Even though, Maoist negotiator, Krishna Bahadur Mahara traveled to Kathmandu from Delhi to participate in peace talks in November 2001.

A leading Indian security expert, General Ashok Mehta believed that the Indian intelligence must have established links with the Nepalese Maoists at least two years ago. Speaking to the BBC, he once said, "in circumstances as that of the Maoists, (the Indian) Government strategy is implemented through intelligence agencies and not the official channels".

Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran avoided any direct reference to a speculative link between the Indian intelligence and the Maoists. He said that the Indian government was engaged in dialogue with all key political actors of Nepal, but did not mention the Maoists.

Through the state-run media, the supporters of the king have been portraying the leaders rushing to Delhi for political settlement in Nepal as anti-nationals, and the Delhi-understanding between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists as illegal accord.

The translated text of the 12-point understanding reached between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance published by the Maoists in the Nepali language is as follow: [1]

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)

Central Committee

Press Release

On behalf of our party, I make public this press release on the understanding reached between the CPN (Maoists) and the seven-party alliance engaged in the struggle against the autocratic monarchy:

Understanding reached

The struggle between democracy and the autocratic monarchy continuing in Nepal for a long time has reached at the very serious and new turn. Today's need is to set up peace ending the armed conflict continuing for the last ten years through a forward-looking political breakthrough. Therefore, it has been indispensable to implement the concept of absolute democracy reorganizing the state for resolving the political, economical, social, cultural, class, caste, gender and regional problems by ending the autocratic monarchy and setting up absolute democracy. In the context of this situation existing in the country, we make public the following understanding reached between the CPN (Maoists) and the seven parliamentary parties.

Clauses of understanding

1. Currently, the main wish of the Nepalese people is democracy, peace, and prosperity, social advancement, an independent, and sovereign Nepal. We have fully agreed on that the main obstacle to this end is the autocratic monarchy. Our clear belief is that there is no possibility of having peace, progress and prosperity in the country without establishing absolute democracy by ending the autocratic monarchy. Therefore, we have reached an understanding that all anti-autocratic-monarchy forces will hit the autocratic monarchy from their respective positions by setting off the nationwide democratic movement for ending the autocratic monarchy and establishing absolute democracy.

2. The seven-party alliance engaged in the movement against regression is fully committed to the fact that sovereignty and state power could be fully transfer to the people, and the conflict could be ended by establishing absolute democracy in the country through holding elections for a Constituent Assembly based on the talks and agreement with the Maoists, and they are also committed to restore the parliament through the power of the people's movement, and then set up an all-party government based on its decision. The CPN (Maoist) has the belief and the commitment to achieve the goal of holding a national political convention of all democratic forces engaged in the movement against the regression, and of setting up an interim government based on its decision, and then of going for a Constituent Assembly election. We have an understanding that the seven-party alliance and the CPN (Maoist) will continue dialogue for reaching a consensus on the procedural matters. There is an understanding between us that the power of the people's movement is the only alternative to achieve this goal.

3. Currently, the country needs a positive solution of the armed conflict and a lasting peace. Therefore, we are determined to set up a lasting peace by ending the ongoing-armed conflict in the country through the forward-looking political resolution in favor of setting up absolute democracy, and to end the autocratic monarchy and then to hold elections for a Constitution Assembly that comes thereafter following the procedure. The CPN (Maoist) is committed to move ahead in the peaceful new political current through this process. In this context, there has been an understanding to keep the Maoists' armed forces and the Royal Nepal Army under the supervision of the UN or any other reliable international agency during the elections for a Constituent Assembly for holding free and fair elections, and to accept the results of such elections after the termination of the autocratic monarchy. We even expect to have the involvement of a reliable international agency in the process of our dialogue.

4. As an institution, the CPN (Maoist) makes public its commitment to the democratic values and ideals such as competitive multi-party system of governance, civil liberties, human rights, concept of the rule of law, fundamental rights and so on with clarity, and to move forward its activities accordingly.

5. The CPN (Maoist) has committed to create an environment conducive to the leaders and cadres of democratic parties and other people displaced during the armed conflict to return to their respective places, and settle there with honor, to get back their unjustly seized properties and assets, and to practice the political activities without hindrance.

6. The CPN (Maoist) has committed to self-review the shortcomings and the mistakes made in the past, and make self-criticism of them, and not to repeat such things in the future.

7. Self-reviewing the shortcomings and mistakes made in the past while in the parliament and in the government, the seven-party alliance has committed not to repeat such shortcomings and mistakes in the future.

8. In the context of moving forward the peace process, we have committed to fully honor the values and ideals of human rights, to move forward based on these principles, and to honor the media freedom.

9. Declaration of municipal elections and the talk of parliamentary polls are a ploy to confuse the people and the international community, and done with the deceitful objective of legitimizing the illegitimate and autocratic rule of the king. We call upon all the people to make such elections unsuccessful, and we declare that we will actively boycott these polls in our respective manner.

10. The people and representative political parties are the real guards of nationalism. Therefore, we are fully committed to the independence of the country, and its sovereignty, and to safeguard the territorial integrity, and the national unity. Our common duty is to maintain friendly relations with all countries, and good neighborly relations particularly with the neighboring countries such as India and China based on the principles of peaceful co-existence. We urge all patriotic people to be on the alert against the deceitful efforts of the king and royalists 'Mandale' to raise question about the patriotism of the political parties, and to claim for their patriotism confusing the patriotic people for preserving their autocratic and illegal rule, and we appeal to the international powers and people for supporting our democratic movement against the autocratic monarchy by any possible means.

11. We reached the understanding between us focusing on democracy, peace, prosperity, complete social change, and independence, sovereignty and self-esteem of the country. Based on this understanding we are launching a peaceful people's movement. In order to make it successful, we heartily call upon civic society, professional community, class organizations and associations, people of all castes and professions, media people, intellectuals and the entire Nepalese community to actively participate in it.

12. Regarding the past inappropriate behavior of the parties, our common commitment is to conduct investigation into the complaints of the specific party and into the incidents demanded for investigation, and if found anyone guilty, will take actions against such a guilty person, and make it public. We have reached an understanding that from now on problems cropped up among the parties shall be resolved at the concerned level or at the leadership level through a dialogue.

November 22, 2005

signature

Prachand

Chairman

CPN (Maoists)

Central Committee

On November 22, 2005, after making the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists public, President of the Nepal Congress, Girija Prasad Koirala said that the seven parties only reached an understanding with the rebels and no alliance had been formed with the Maoists.

The seven-party alliance was forged to protest the king's direct rule that restricted political activities, and dismantled all democratic institutions created during the years of democratic system of governance, and curbed the Nepalese media.

Political parties had agreed to a key Maoist demand for holding elections to a Constituent Assembly for formulating a new constitution. The Maoists did not recognize the Constitution of 1990 prepared by the representatives of the political parties and the monarch. So, they have been insisting on holding elections for a Constituent Assembly for framing a new constitution.

The writing of a new constitution by the elected Constituent Assembly would effectively decide the fate of the monarchy. So, the king would never accept such elections. Therefore, the seven-party alliance and the Maoists might need to go head-on collision with the monarchy for settlement of the political crisis.

So, it is not surprising that the king's government condemned the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. On November 23, 2005, on arrival at the Kathmandu airport from Malaysia, speaking to the reporters, the then-Minister for Information and Communications, Tanka Dhakal said, “It will be a great unfortunate if the efforts are made to establish peace through an unpractical alliance. For the government, such a move is highly unacceptable. If that alliance turned into an alliance of selfish interest or an unnatural alliance, it would be unfortunate for the country. Political alliance should be natural, meaningful and based on truth but the alliance guided by self-interest cannot yield a positive outcome." [2]

On Wednesday, November 23, 2005, the then-Minister for Information and Communications Tanka Dhakal issued a strong warning against the so-called alliance between the political parties and the terrorists saying that such an unnatural alliance will pose as big obstacle to restoring a lasting peace in the country. In a reply to the much-talked about constituent assembly, Minister Dhakal gave an example of former Soviet Union where the Bolsheviks dismissed the results of elections of constituent assembly immediately after the polls went against their interest. “Thus, there is no guarantee of the solution of the problem through the election of such assembly.” Minister Dhakal noted that the country was on the right track so as to achieve a lasting peace after the king's move of February 1, 2005. “We are realizing a congenial atmosphere that is opening horizon of peace.” [3]

On Wednesday, November 23, 2005, spokesperson for the US Embassy in Kathmandu, Robert Hugins said, "The US is reviewing the document of agreement through political and diplomatic channels." He said that the US cautiously welcomed the new political understanding reached between the mainstream parties and the Maoists; the understanding underlined the urgency for the royal palace to reach out to the parties and achieve common understanding to restore democracy and peace in the country. He also reiterated that the Maoists should shun violence and join the political mainstream. [4]

India also cautiously reacted to the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. The Indian External Ministry official in New Delhi said, "We have seen newspaper reports about an understanding between Maoists and political parties in Nepal for the restoration of multi-party democracy and return to political normalcy. It has all along been the position taken by the Government of India that there is no pure military solution to the challenges facing Nepal, including the Maoist insurgency. India has, on the one hand, urged the institution of monarchy to work together with political parties, and on the other, called upon Maoists to abandon the path of violence, accept the discipline of multi-party democracy and work for a political settlement that contributes to political stability and economic prosperity of Nepal." [5]

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan welcomed the move by the rebels and the opposition alliance and remained ready to assist in any manner that would help bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict. He is studying the understanding reached between the two sides. Secretary General Annan called on the rebels to extend a three-month cease-fire that expires on December 2, 2005, and asked the King Gyanendra's government to introduce a reciprocal truce. [6]

On November 22, 2005, Nepal Civil Society welcomed the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. Professional Alliance for Peace and Democracy (PAPAD), Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Tribhuvan University Teachers' Association, Citizen's Solidarity for Peace, Nepal Press Union, Human Rights and Peace Society and Nepal Student Forum welcomed the understanding reached between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance.

Some individuals expressed their views on the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. Senior political analyst Prof. Lok Raj Baral said that the new approach to the political resolution was a triumph for democracy, and the commitment of the Maoists to multi-party democracy was very optimistic. Leader of the civic movement opposing the absolute rule of the king, Dr. Devendra Raj Pandey said that the understanding between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists was a victory for the Nepalese people. The editor of Himal - South Asian magazine, Kanak Mani Dixit, told the BBC that the Maoists should be given a chance and they should be "tested - if not trusted." [7]

Similarly, another political analyst Krishna Khanal said the understanding was a positive breakthrough and the road was open to ending the ongoing political impasse. Much would depend on how the state would respond to it. Previously, the Maoists were engaged in armed insurgency and the parties were fighting for democracy through peaceful means. But now the two forces have come together making democracy their common agenda. Since Maoists have pledged their support for democracy, the country would face dire consequences if they continued their armed struggle for the same cause.

General Secretary to the human rights organization INSEC, Kundan Aryal, said that the Maoists had been fighting for a communist republic, now they have shown willingness for restoring peace and democracy. This flexibility shown by them must be welcomed. Now the ball is in the King's court. He should respond for peaceful and amicable negotiations. The King in his various speeches had been defending his February-1 takeover saying he needed executive power to fight the insurgency; now the parties-Maoists understanding have weakened the King's stance.

The then-spokesperson for the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Roshan Karki said, "Nowhere in the world has peace been restored with agreement between political forces and rebels. But the initiative taken for peace process is positive."

The 12-point agreement reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists is an unprecedented and remarkable effort to establish a lasting peace, 'The Kathmandu Post' editorial wrote. The parliamentary forces and the Maoists have displayed political acumen to resolve the conflict. Hence, we call upon all the pro-democratic forces, the international community, and all nationalist Nepalis to welcome this agreement, and contribute from their level best to implement it successfully to provide a peaceful and prosperous future for our young generation. [8]

On Wednesday, November 23, 2005, returning from South Africa upon arrival at the Kathmandu airport, Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey said that a peace initiative by any party should be welcomed and was a matter of pleasure but it should not happen at the behest of foreigners. He also insisted on that any kind of understanding should be on the basis of nationalism. [9]

On November 24, 2005, Professor of politics at the Tribhuvan University, Mr. Kapil Shrestha said, “The accord represents a critical polarization of political forces against the autocratic monarchy for restoration of full-fledged democracy. The king could lose totally as a result of this accord if he fails to handle the situation cautiously and wisely.” [10]

On November 24, 2005, the state-run newspaper 'The Rising Nepal' reported that the alliance between the Maoists and political parties was unholy and would be counterproductive if not corrected on time according to the political analysts.

Speaking at the Media Group Nepal, Former Chief of the Army Staff of the Royal Nepalese Army and Member of the Raj Parishad (Privy Council) Standing Committee, Satchit Shumsher Rana said that the parties should be taken as accomplices of terrorism for forming alliance with the terrorists and should be dealt with pursuant to the country’s law. The agreement between the terrorists and the parties could be the result of their meeting in Delhi but it would not produce any fruitful result. People were disheartened to see the points of agreements where the terrorists have prevailed over the parties. There was no mention of arms management, cease-fire or any other point that would bring relief to the people. The unholy alliance between the two groups - one discarded by the people while the other chose to live in the jungle was only directed towards power politics. The king would go for a constituent assembly if the people demanded for it, not at the call of a section or group. He accused the parties of not letting the king to follow democratic course, and said that it was the parties that restrained the repeated calls of the king to join the government. The parties labeled the king as an autocratic. If the king were taking autocratic recourse then he would not have declared elections. [11]

General Secretary of Prajatantrik Janamukti Party, Gore Bahadur Khapangi said that the parties had become puppets of the Maoists because of the understanding reached between them, and sacrificed their ethics and democratic culture by making an equation with the terrorists.

Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader, Bhuwan Pathak said that the agreement was the outcome of weak mentality and immaturity of the parties. The parliamentary parties had issued a red-corner notice and declared the Maoists as the terrorists when they were in the government but they were joining hands with the same group when they were on the street. The parties spoilt the opportunity of the Maoists joining the mainstream politics and improving the situation of peace and order by reaching the understanding with the Maoists.

President of Samata Party (Socialist) Nepal, Daya Nanda Thapa said that the parties agreed to put the armed rebels at par with the country’s army was unacceptable in every sense. The parties ignored the call of the king but joined the terrorists not working by their own conscience but under the influence of external forces

Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader, Kamal Thapa expressed concern over the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. He said it further complicated the peace process. There were no changes in the Maoist stand. The parliamentary parties had gone into ideological digression, particularly the Nepali Congress. It was trapped in the extreme left movement. The government would not easily accept the understanding and had no right to do so as well. It would only intensify violence and conflict. Referring to the understanding that talked about putting the Royal Nepalese Army and the Maoists' militia under the UN supervision, he said it was a ridiculous concept and it only showed the impoverished mentality of the parties. [12]

The understanding reached between the Nepal's Maoist rebels and its major opposition political parties signified a huge shift of their policies toward the monarchy. Since the February royal coup, the major opposition parties have come to see the king as a part of the problem, rather than the solution to Nepal's many ills. The 12-point common agenda suggested the possibility of some major shifts in their position on the monarchy. It did not even mention the word 'republic'. It talked only about ending the "autocratic" monarchy. That clearly implied the acceptance of a ceremonial, or constitutional monarchy. The Maoists pledged not to engage in violence if their demand for the election for a constituent assembly to chart a fresh political course for Nepal was met. They have not decided to surrender their arms but have agreed to place them under the supervision of a credible international force during such an election. The opposition parties have now for the first time agreed among themselves on the need for a constituent assembly. The international community seemed to be cautiously positive about the understanding. The Nepalese government has not formally responded. Senior ministers have been cynical about the deal, which they are saying was reached at the "behest of the foreigners". That was a veiled reference to recent clandestine meetings in India between the Maoists and the opposition party leaders as well as meetings between the party leaders and foreign diplomats in Kathmandu. If what is in the joint program can be taken as representing the good faith of the rebels, then it is indeed an historic agreement. The rebels, who have been arguably waging the most successful Maoist insurgency in the world in recent decades, have clearly stated that they are ready to accept multi-party democracy. Moreover, they have given indications that they would accept some form of non-autocratic monarchy. However, the past 10 years indicate that the rebels cannot be relied on to keep their word, says the editor of the People's Review weekly, Pushkar Raj Pradhan. "Every time they have been in a win-win situation and through out all these years they have very successfully played one constitutional force against another." Time will tell if that caution is justified. But what cannot be denied is that Nepal's tri-polar power struggle between the king, the parliamentary political parties and the Maoists seems to be now turning into a bi-polar one. The opposition parties and the Maoists are not using the word 'alliance'. But they have agreed to "attack the autocratic monarchy" from their own positions. The Maoists have also agreed to allow political parties to conduct their activities without intimidation or violence. Now the ball is in the king's court. The agreement gives the king both a warning and room for compromise. If he does not compromise, then this week's deal could well turn into a more concrete alliance. That would be a serious threat to the institution of the monarchy itself, as there is a growing feeling both within and outside the country that the monarchy is becoming an impediment to democracy in Nepal. However, the agreement also suggests the Maoists are prepared for a massive climb-down in their insistence on the abolition of the monarchy. The recent raucous criticisms of the king by the political parties are also absent in the agreement. At this stage, some argue that the king could not ask for more from the Maoists or the political parties. Some also think that the softening of positions on the question of the monarchy could not have come without a hint from the king's side that he too would be ready to compromise if the challenge to the throne were withdrawn. However, there are others who think such softening of positions was a result of the realization that the country's current conflict cannot be resolved without compromise. The king has been dismissive to all the national and international reactions during his past 10 months of direct rule. Does that mean he will give the thumbs down to the deal between the rebels and the political opposition? [13]

In its official reaction to the 12-point agreement reached between the seven parties and the Maoists, the government rejected the call for holding elections for a constituent assembly but insisted on holding municipal elections in February 2006. In a press statement issued on Thursday, November 24, 2005, the then-Minister for Information and Communications and the spokesman for the government, Tanka Dhakal said that the government was moving ahead with the restoration of peace in the country. Minister Dhakal said, “The government’s attention has been drawn towards the understanding said to have been reached between the seven political parties and Maoist terrorists as has come out in the media. His Majesty’s Government is resolutely committed to conducting a free and fair election as per the directives of the King and in maintaining peace in the country.” [14]

A US-based think-tank called Nepalese Americas Council (NAC) [15] welcomed the 12-point understanding reached between seven-party alliance and the CPN (Maoist), and urged King Gyanendra to immediately take steps to restore multi-party democracy in the country. In a statement issued on Thursday, November 24, 2005, NAC and its member organizations welcomed the deal saying, “It is a positive sign for peace, and restoration of democracy and human rights in Nepal. We commend all the involved parties for their pledge to reestablish democracy in Nepal and to bring the long overdue peace in the country. We also welcome the acknowledgement of past mistakes by Maoists and the political parties, and their vow to learn from them. Rebuilding trust will take time. But we sincerely hope that these reconciliation efforts progress to the point where a verifiable disarmament is overseen by a credible international agency.” The statement signed by president of the Council, Dr. Jeet Joshee further stated, “We strongly urge the King to utilize this opportunity and come to terms to restore democracy and foster a lasting peace in the country. We recommend that he invite the United Nations and other international agencies to facilitate the rapprochement between himself, the Maoists, the political parties and the people of Nepal. Should he ignore this opportunity, we foresee grave consequences to the democratic process.”

In a separate statement issued on Friday, November 25, 2005, an affiliate of Nepal Study Center at the University of New Mexico, USA, Liberal Democracy Nepal (LDN) said that the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists if earnestly implemented by both the parties, will bring a welcome relief for the Nepalis eager to live in democracy and peace.

The statement said, “Now, the onus for an immediate resolution of the conflict lies directly with the King. The signatories of the agreement also have to do much work to earn the trust of the Nepali public who has grown skeptical about the sincerity of all the three protagonists. To that end, this 12-point agreement has provided hope for millions of Nepalis. We advise the King to show similar courage. We strongly urge the King to utilize this opportunity for reconciliation, and urgently restore democracy. The present agreement provides a window to demonstrate his sincerity in his often-repeated commitment to multiparty democracy. We ask him to seize this opportunity to help the country and to secure the future existence of monarchy. The King has an obligation to reverse the ill-advised move of February 1, 2005. The Royal regime should reciprocate the Maoist declaration of ceasefire and pave the way for the Nepali citizens to travel and conduct their business in the country freely and without any fear. After so much violence, the Maoists need to work more to win the trust of the people. They should extend their ceasefire for an indefinite period and make a public announcement to reject violence. We ask the Maoists to have a definitive timetable to dismantle their arms in the presence of acceptable international agencies. Political parties should recognize that without internal democracy, they would repeat the past mistakes. They should adhere to policies that are inclusive of all groups of people in Nepal. They should begin to develop a new Nepal that represents different regions and different ethnicities. We ask them to immediately implement steps to enhance internal democracy. All their public protests must be peaceful and avoid any destruction of public property.”

LDN has also urged all protagonists, the king, the parties, and the Maoists to utilize this opportunity to restore democracy and serve the interest of all Nepalis. LDN sincerely believes that this understanding between the parties and the Maoist can usher a new era of democracy and peace in Nepal

US Ambassador to Nepal, James F Moriarty held a meeting with Foreign Minister Ramesh, Nath Pandey at the latter's residence on Wednesday, November 23, 2005, and apprised him of the US support for the recent understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the CPN (Maoist), and of his recent visit to New Delhi. [16]

General Secretary of the CPN-UML, Madhav Kumar Nepal held separate meetings with Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, representative of the Swiss Government to Nepal, Dr Gunther and Israeli Ambassador to Nepal, Dan Stam at the CPN-UML central office at Balkhu on Thursday, November 24, 2005. The ambassadors and the representative repeated their support for democracy, peace and protection of human rights in Nepal according to the CPN-UML. [17]

Leaders of the seven-party alliance said their movement for restoring democracy has entered a new phase with the signing of the 12-point understanding with the Maoists. They said the new phase of the movement would decide everything including the fate of "any institution".

Speaking at a program held by the Sambad Club in the capital, CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli said, "We have now entered a phase of huge mass meetings and protest rallies, as we know that autocratic rule gets stronger if we delay launching the final struggle. In the past two days, our understanding with the Maoists has received massive support from all sections of society. Those receiving commissions from arms trade and those who want to strengthen autocracy have stood against the understanding. These people want to prolong the war for 20 more years."

Spokesperson for the Nepali Congress, Krishna Prasad Sitaula said, "The understanding is an outcome of the parties' commitment to bailing the country out of armed conflict and autocracy. Maoists' commitment to coming within a democratic framework is itself a significant achievement for the parties in the ongoing movement for restoration of democracy. But the government termed it unnatural. Does it want violence and murder to continue?"

Dr Narayan Khadka of the Nepali Congress-Democratic (NC-D) said this was an opportunity for the Maoists to prove their stated commitment to a lasting peace, democracy and human rights by implementing the understanding sincerely. He suggested the parties remain cautious while reaching any agreement with the Maoists.

Speaking at the Reporters' Club Nepal, Nepali Congress Treasurer, Mahantha Thakur said the Maoists' recognition of a peaceful movement as the only means to peace and democracy is a significant achievement for the parties. Treasurer Thakur added that if the monarchy stuck to its present role it would invite its own end.

Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi) Acting Chairman, Bharat Bimal Yadav, CPN-UML leader, Shankar Pokharel, NUTA President, Bhupati Dhakal and Nepal Student Union's leader, Gagan Thapa said the understanding paved the way for absolute democracy

On Thursday, November 24, 2005, representatives of civil society also welcomed the 12-point agreement reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists as follow:

Speaking at an interaction program, Dr Sundar Mani Dixit said, "The Delhi talks between the Maoists and seven-party alliance are a beacon of peace. Since people's sovereign rights will be guaranteed in the constitution to be drafted through a constituent assembly, they will not be betrayed and deceived again in the future."

Civil society representative, Himalaya Shumsher Rana said, "people will have ownership in the new constitution to be framed by a constituent assembly."

Prof Krishna Pokharel said, "People have the rights to decide on their destiny, so there is no alternative to promulgating a new constitution by a constituent assembly."

Former justice, Krishna Jung Rayamaghi said, "If the third party flatly rejects the understanding forged by the other two, it will face a great catastrophe."

A coalition of over two dozen leading rights groups in the country, Defend Human Rights Movement-Nepal welcomed the 12-point understanding between the seven-party alliance and the CPN (Maoist).

In a statement issued and signed by rights activists such as Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Dr. Gopal Krishna Shivakoti, Gauri Pradhan, Shobhakar Budhathoki, Ganga Kasaju and Shanta Lal Mulmi, they said that the understanding accepting democratic values and norms including multi-party democracy, civil liberties, human rights and rule of law was a positive step. They also called upon the concerned parties and the Maoists to implement the provisions contained in the letter of understanding genuinely and include the issue of respecting fundamental human rights and defending humanitarian laws fully as a mandatory condition in any political understanding to be reached in the future.

An organization of the Nepalis in the US, Nepali Nationalist Organization (NNO) condemned the recently concluded deal between the CPN (Maoist) and the seven-party alliance. In a statement released by President of the little-known NNO, Bishal Shah alerted all patriots to reject and fight against what he called "anti-national criminal elements." In the statement, Mr. Shah said, “It is not just the duty of our brave security personnel to defend the nation rather the responsibility also falls upon the shoulders of all the patriots.” Mr. Shah also urged the international community such as US, EU, and China all Hindus and Buddhists friends of India, to extend their friendly hands to fight what it called the "Bin Laden of Nepal". Mr. Shah released the statement less than 24 hours after major and reputed organizations of the Nepalis based in the US welcomed the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists to restore peace and democracy in the country.

The political ground has shifted in Nepal with the hammering out of a 12-point common agenda between major parliamentary parties and Maoist rebels, subsequently endorsed by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. King Gyanendra's assumption of absolute power on February 1, leading to arrests of hundreds of political activists and the curbing of civil liberties and media, has led many Nepalis to view the monarchy itself as the principal obstacle to resolving Nepal's crisis. The 12-point understanding does not seek an abolition of the monarchy; it envisages, however, a limited monarchy where the king's powers are well defined and constitutional. It calls for elections for a constituent assembly, prior to which Maoists will desist from violence and place their arms under the supervision of a credible international agency like the UN. The deal involves compromises on both sides — the opposition parties have agreed to the Maoist demand for a constituent assembly, while the Maoists, for the first time, have indicated their willingness to operate within the parameters of a multiparty democracy. The impracticability of running a full-fledged Maoist regime in a small, landlocked country like Nepal may have dawned on cooler heads among Maoist leaders. King Gyanendra should look at the deal as offering a way out of his predicament, otherwise he may be faced with a hardening alliance between political parties and Maoists that is in favor of doing away with the monarchy altogether. New Delhi appears to have played a behind-the-scenes role in facilitating the agreement. Many Nepalis see an Indian role in perpetuating the monarchy for its own purposes. On balance, it is better to back democratic forces, with suitable caveats in case the Maoists are not playing ball. An Indian role in ushering in democracy in Nepal would raise India's profile in South Asia. [18]

On Friday, November 25, 2005, at the press conference held to inform the public about the decisions of the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting of his party, Acting President of the NC-D, Gopal Man Shrestha said, "the political parties have not yet decided to opt for a republican setup, thus leaving room for the king and the palace in the 12-point accord. Now, we have to see whether the palace will be sincere in resolving the existing crisis by restoring peace and stability. If it does not play a positive role in this regard, constituent assembly elections will decide the fate of monarchy." The seven-party alliance moved toward the understanding with the Maoists. Mr. Shrestha said. "It is because the palace's rigidity and refusal to review its stance." The CWC meeting concluded on Thursday, November 24 reaching the conclusion that the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and Maoists was a significant positive step toward a lasting peace and absolute democracy in the country. It called upon Maoists to abide by the understanding. Spokesperson for the Party, Dr Minendra Rijal said political parties were asking Maoists to extend the unilateral truce beyond its expiry date of December 3, 2005 as proof of their commitment to peace and democracy.

At an interaction with intellectuals at the party office, Former Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President, Girija Prasad Koirala said, "The king is trying to continue violence and counter-violence to serve his interest of prolonging autocracy on any pretext. The recent understanding has created a new situation and hope of restoring peace and democracy in the country, but there is a serious threat to it from the king. While the Maoists declared unilateral cease-fire the king stood against it proving he was against restoration of peace. The king's inability to capitalize on the ceasefire is risky for the palace "

Regarding the monarchists' reaction to the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists, President Koirala said that the seven parties reached understanding with the Maoists focusing on democracy, peace, independence and national sovereignty; it was not done in anybody's interest but in the interest of all Nepalis; so, he urged the civil society and intellectuals to help in keeping the understanding intact.

In a statement, Rastriya Janashakti Party (RJP) Chairman, Surya Bahadur Thapa said, "The agreement has opened several possibilities. Among them, peace and democracy is one, which is also the aspiration of the people and the nation. It should be taken positively but needs to be implemented as per the constitution." He also appreciated the Maoists' commitment to "peace and democracy". However, he cautioned that the Maoists would live up to peace and democracy or not need to be seen.

On Friday, November 25, 2005, speaking at the face-to-face program held by the Reporters' Club Nepal, Former chairman of the Rajparishad (Privy Council) Standing Committee, Dr Keshar Jung Rayamajhi acknowledged the parties-Maoist deal as a big achievement of initiative for establishing peace; and said that the government should take initiative for making it result-oriented. He further said that it was time for the government to declare a ceasefire, and for reaching a similar deal with the king to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

The BBC Nepali Service reported that Maoists Leader, Prachanda telling the BBC that the verdict of free and fair elections would be acceptable even if it meant the retention of the monarchy if foreign election monitors supervised elections. Talking to the BBC in his first ever radio interview [19], Mr. Prachanda said the rebels would reconsider their opposition on the monarchy if King Gyanendra agreed to the election for a constituent assembly. He said that the history showed the main obstacle to the cause of democratic aspirations of the masses and for the cause of peace had been the monarchy. Let us see what response we would get from the palace. Unlike in the past, Mr. Prachanda stopped using abusive language against the king.

The recent pact between political parties and Maoist rebels in Nepal represents an amazing turn around in the troubled Himalayan kingdom. Just when everyone had given up on the future of Nepal's fledgling democracy, it has received a unexpected boost with the dramatic decision by the entire political spectrum including extremists in that country to join hands against King Gyanendra, with the purpose of restoring a democratic Government.

This emerging rainbow alliance bolstered by the support of India as well as Western democracies has almost overnight pushed to the corner the Machiavellian monarch who, just a few months ago, seemed to hold all the cards.

There are many political paradoxes in this astonishing twist of events. The 12-point memorandum of understanding between the Nepalese parties and the Maoists is a unique document that underlines the unprecedented nature of what is happening in that country. Both sides have confessed to making mistakes in the past and made a commitment not to repeat them in the future.

This is no mere rhetorical posturing but involves huge shifts from earlier positions held by the two sides. The political parties, many of whose leaders and cadre were killed and hounded out of their homes by the Maoists in their decade long armed insurgency, have decided to forgive and forget. In their desperation to hit back at the monarch, mainstream politicians of Nepal belonging to different ideological hues are now ready to patch up with the extremists despite the bloodshed in the past.

In return, the Maoists too have made huge conciliatory gestures. After a decade of armed revolution, they appear ready to participate in elections and representative democracy. More importantly, the extremists are no longer insisting on the abolition of the monarchy, which had made it difficult for them to function legitimately after the first democratic revolution in Nepal, one and a half decades ago. The 12-point memorandum of understanding speaks of ending autocratic monarchy but is silent on turning the kingdom into a republic, indicating that the Maoists were now ready to live with a titular monarchy.

However, the biggest concession from the rebels has come in the shape of their acceptance of supervision by the United Nations, or a similar international organization, to conduct a free-and-fair election as a first step towards restoring democracy and peace in Nepal.

This would have been unimaginable even a few months ago. Indeed, there is enough evidence to suggest that the political truce between the parties and the Maoists was facilitated to a large extent by the supportive role played by India along with the United States and the United Kingdom working in tandem with each other.

This by itself is a major political paradox. For the past many years, the Maoists have been fiercely critical of both India and the United States targeting them as 'imperialist enemies'. Yet, such are the compulsions of grassroots politics that ideological rhetoric has to be quickly abandoned when real political stakes are involved.

It is not the Maoists alone who have chosen to forget past prejudices and bugbears. Several of the political parties who have now turned to India and the Western powers for help not so long ago screamed from the rooftops about the evil machinations of New Delhi and Washington.

Many of them were Left-wing parties openly allied to China. They have now realized that when it came to preserving democracy in Nepal, Beijing had little to offer. As a matter of fact, it is a huge irony of history that both the Maoists and the pro-Chinese Left-wing parties in Nepal were ultimately forced to turn to India and the 'imperialist' Western powers, instead of China, to fight an unscrupulous and autocratic monarch.

Similarly, both the United States and India has had to forget their own past prejudices and obsolete perspectives on the Himalayan kingdom. This is perhaps the first instance of Washington covertly helping an alliance dominated by Leftists of different shades to fight a monarchy. For once, the Bush Administration has managed to make the correct choice in the name of democracy.

As for India, its quiet but steady support to the emerging democratic alliance in Nepal is evident from the fact that the 12-point memorandum was actually signed here. Despite strong support for the monarch from sections of the Army and the political establishment and fierce antipathy to the Maoists from the Intelligence Bureau, ultimately hard-headed diplomacy appears to have triumphed - at least for the moment. Interestingly, even a Maoist upsurge in Bihar - where Naxalites have been proactive in recent weeks - has not detracted, and justifiably so, the course of Indian diplomacy in the region.

Nine months ago, New Delhi was made to look very foolish when the Nepalese monarch, King Gyanendra, in an audacious move snuffed out democracy in the kingdom on the eve of the SAARC summit. Taken aback by the king's gambit, the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) Government floundered around in the beginning but, to its credit, has steadily got its act together over the past six months.

It has managed to coordinate diplomatic cooperation with the United States and other Western powers and, at the same time, initiate political negotiations within Nepal. The decision to take a firm line with the Nepalese monarch should become easier with departure of Natwar Singh, whose son is believed to have been extremely close to the son-in-law and son of King Gyanendra.

There is little doubt that the monarch himself is responsible, to some extent, for the success of this unexpected rainbow coalition for the restoration of democracy in Nepal. Ironically, in his attempt to be cleverer by half, King Gyanendra has only managed to antagonize virtually every stakeholder in Nepal. In the process, he tightened the noose around not only his neck but also the future of monarchy in that country.

Much would depend on the tact and maturity shown by the political protagonists within Nepal - the mainstream parties and the Maoists - as well as India and the international community in ensuring that this month's memorandum of understanding lays the foundation for a stable and viable democracy in the kingdom.

The success of this enterprise is not only crucial for Nepal's future but also of vital importance to India. If New Delhi, indeed, manages to pull this off, it would be the first instance of India living up to its potential of being a 'real' leader of the region. [20]

On November 26, 2005, speaker of the dissolved House of Representatives Taranath Ranabhat said to the journalists that the 12-understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists agreed to submit the country's weapons to the third party going against the sovereignty and integrity of the country [21]. It clearly indicated that he did not understand the contents of the understanding. The 12-party understanding stated the activities of the Maoist militia and of the Royal Nepal Army during the elections for a Constitution Assembly would be placed under the supervision of the UN or another credible international agency for impartial holding of the elections.

The state-run newspaper 'The Rising Nepal' in its editorial wrote: The so-called alliance between the seven political parties and the Maoists has drawn a lot of flak, and rightly so. The alliance is not only unlawful but also unnatural. The alliance is viewed as a setback and has only served to aggravate the quagmire that the country is now steeped in. This so-called equation is totally against the norms and spirit of the Constitution of 1990, which is regarded as one of the best in the world. By forging an alliance with the terrorists, the seven parities have shown their true colors and to what extent they are willing to go to gain power. The government for its part is assessing the situation and has condemned the alliance, terming it as unnatural. [22]

Maoist leader Prachanda denied the involvement of India in facilitating a recent meeting of the rebels and the seven-party alliance, and in reaching their 12-point understanding for a joint fight for restoration of democracy. [23]

The 12-point agreement between the parties and the Maoists has sealed the fate of the Nepalese monarch. As clearly outlined in the 12-point agreement, the certainty of an end to the direct rule is evident. The 12-Point agreement is simply an alternative to proposed elections (municipal elections on Feb 8, 2006) that the seven-party alliance is unable to participate in for various reasons. The agreed upon path to first restore parliament, then form an all-party government and then hold “elections to a constituent assembly through dialogue and understanding with the Maoists” is a rather long-winded plan. In a layman's terms, this amounts to keeping the Maoists “hooked,” the monarchy in “tow” and giving the mainstream parties sufficient time to re-group and re-establish contact with their rural electorate. The key objective of the agreement reached in Delhi is to entice the Maoists to join the political mainstream by undermining the Monarchy. [24]

On Monday, November 28, 2005, issuing a press statement, the British Embassy in Kathmandu said, “We urge the King of Nepal to reach out to the political parties with a view to finding an agreed way forward and an end to the conflict. We shall be considering, with our European and other international partners, the details of the announcements made by the political parties and the Maoists. If by this agreement the Maoists commit to giving up violence and human rights abuses in favor of democratic political settlement then this is welcome news for the long suffering people of Nepal. As a sign of their good faith, we call on the Maoists to extend their present ceasefire unconditionally to create the right conditions for peace talks to resume."

Spokesman for the CPN-UML, Pradeep Nepal said, "The government is trying to intensify violence and unleash destructive activity to prolong autocracy, ignoring the sincere efforts of political parties and Maoists to restore peace in the country." He also said that the government would not be able to resolve the conflict without addressing the rebels' demand.

On Saturday, November 26, 2005, speaking at a function held by his party to exchange best wishes for peace and democracy on the occasion of the Nepal Sambat (Nepal Calendar) New Year 1126, CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal said that the seven-party alliance would hold a second-round dialogue with the Maoists in the "near future" to achieve the anticipated goal of resolving the decade-long armed conflict and restoring a lasting peace and democracy in the country. "As there is no possibility of imposing autocracy after the restoration of peace and democracy through the ending of the decade-long armed conflict, some 'outdated sycophants of autocracy' have been threatening the political parties with the terrorist tag," he said "No one will be able to stop us from reaching the goal of resolving the existing conflict as long as we have support from the Nepalese people and the international community. We are seeking support from the Nepalese people and the international community after coming to realize the nature of the autocrats in the country who will never support our efforts to resolve the crisis. So all the people and the various organizations should come out onto the streets against autocracy and support the political parties." [25]

On Saturday, November 26, 2005, speaking at a function, RPP Chairman Pashupati Shumsher Rana blamed the king for compelling the parliamentary forces to forge an alliance with the Maoist rebels. Chairman Rana said that the understanding reached between the parties and the Maoists, was an outcome of the king's failure to reach out to the political parties for exploring a way out of the current problem.

On Tuesday, November 29, 2005, speaking to the party activists in Bharatpur, Chitwan, Former Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President, Girija Prasad Koirala said the objective of the 12-point understanding with the Maoists is to bring an end to the autocratic regime, he said: “The dialogue with the Maoists has not been complete yet; we will make it a success.” Reacting to the government’s allegation that the dialogue with the Maoists was held in a foreign country, he said, “I am ready to go anywhere, even hell, if it helps to restore peace in Nepal.” [26]

Nepal's mainstream parties and the Maoists have reached agreement on a basic alliance against the monarchy. That they were talking was not new: all sides have kept in contact throughout the ten-year-old conflict. But this time they have developed a serious agenda, which offers the framework of a peace deal. Their dialogue had India's tacit backing and the deal was finalized at meetings in New Delhi.

The agreement reflects some important achievements: the Maoists have formally committed themselves to joining a multiparty system and the mainstream parties have signed up to a process of constitutional change. Each side has recognized past mistakes and vowed not to repeat them.

But many issues present challenges, which have only been deferred. The Maoists reject the parties' call to restore the last parliament and the parties have not accepted the rebels' republican agenda. Questions of disarmament, monitoring and future talks facilitation have been brushed over lightly. And it is not clear if the new alliance will hold out an olive branch to the king or try to force him into submission.

The palace, which runs an embattled government, had tried to conceal its unease as the talks went on but ministers have now gone on the offensive against the new alliance. Conservative Nepali commentators and US diplomats had warned repeatedly of consequences if the parties did a deal with the Maoists. Some critics hoped that the talks would fall apart or be derailed, but the twelve-point November agreement has dramatically -- though not yet irreversibly -- changed political realities.

Why have the parties and the Maoists done a deal? They have differing political imperatives, and they have not changed their long-term goals, but there are some grounds for compromise and both have realized that their own strength is not enough to be decisive. The discussions have identified a possible structure for peace talks -- progressing via interim arrangements to a constituent assembly and disarmament -- but each issue raises its own problems.

The mechanics of dialogue are also far from straightforward. Although all sides had previously kept channels of communication open, formal talks bring risks. This engagement has taken place more comfortably thanks to India's tacit endorsement.

However, the negotiators lack the safety net of international legitimacy and open facilitation. The Maoists are prepared and have a clear strategy while the parties are still working out joint positions.

Each side has been happy to publicize certain details but the text of the November agreement is thin and meetings have necessarily been secretive. The Indians have played their cards close to their chest and left even close allies guessing about their intentions.

The parties' willingness to deal with the rebels has raised the stakes for all players in the conflict. It has also brought new risks. This is only a bilateral process; other crucial players -- notably the palace -- are excluded. The parties are neither fully united nor well prepared and may concede too much too easily as bargaining progresses, while the Maoists retain their arms and could revert to a military approach at any time or could use talks and a lose alliance to build a stronger urban base and squeeze the mainstream parties in their last bastion. The November deal could prompt a violent backlash if the palace feels threatened.

Nevertheless, the alliance presents new opportunities: the Maoists are acting under genuine imperatives and constraints and they are willing to offer significant concessions; this is a chance to bring the Maoists into the mainstream while they are still united and can bring their armed cadres with them; the dialogue has already led to a commitment in principle to disarm; this could be the best way of addressing broadly acceptable parts of the Maoist agenda without giving way on everything; and if managed carefully, the process could strengthen democracy and help address weaknesses in 1990 multiparty constitution and the parties that have embodied it.

The ultimate outcome of the talks process cannot be predicted but the loose party-Maoist alliance has created a new dynamic. In their first high-level face-to-face meeting, party leaders and the Maoists have forged a basic plan for joint action against the monarchy. In the weeks to come this plan will take more concrete shape, and discussions will move to a second stage.

A range of factors will then affect the approaches of both sides. Internal tensions and calculations of personal advantage may be particularly debilitating for the mainstream parties. As always, both sides will be watching other domestic and international forces and adjusting course accordingly.

The king, keen to bolster his own power, still has cards to play. The talks may not in themselves lead to a new peace process but they offer the best hope of breaking Kathmandu's political impasse. [27]

On Tuesday November 29, 2005, Former Prime Minister and Rastriya Janashakti Party Chairman, Surya Bahadur Thapa insisted on the king to emerge from the circle of his cronies and aligned with the democratic forces with a sense of urgency to end the current crisis in the country. "There is still chance for the current regime to work for peace and democracy without any prejudice," said Thapa, "This situation occurred due to the king's refusal to reach out to the parties, which had a soft corner for the king." He further stated that the king should not tighten his grip on democratic rights of the people with the support of some Kathmandu-based sycophants. "Such sycophants were active just before the end of the Rana and Panchayati regimes too. But none of them were able to protect the regime at the time of political change." [28]

Speaking at an interaction organized by Loktantrik Student Society, NC-D spokesperson, Dr Minendra Rijal said that the understanding reached between the political parties and the Maoists would be in serious trouble if the Maoists needed to break off the ceasefire due to the palace's non-response to it. Then, the king would be responsible for further bloodshed in the country. The king cannot anymore justify 'terrorism' as an excuse for holding onto power once the Maoists declared a ceasefire.

Human rights activists urged both the seven-party alliance and the Maoists to genuinely put the 12-point understanding in practice giving no chance to the government for disrupting it. Speaking at an interaction program on the civil society's concern over the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists held by the Human Rights Alliance, human rights activist Krishna Pahadi, Citizen's Solidarity for Peace Member, Dr Mathura Prasad Shrestha, General Secretary of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Dr Om Gurung, and Women's Security Pressure Group Member, Sarada Pokhrel said that each and every person should support the parties to restore peace and democracy in the country. They also urged the Maoists to extend the unilateral ceasefire that ends on December 3, 2005 to find a logical and peaceful resolution to the political conflict. They charged the government for standing in the way to peace and democracy not responding to the unilateral ceasefire declared by the Maoists, and to the recent political developments in bringing the Maoists into mainstream politics.

So far, the king did not see any merits in the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. He is betting the crown on the municipal elections - the political game played against the opposition parties and the Maoists. Failure to win the game might cost him the crown he has been wearing since June 2001, and to Nepalis loss of many beautiful lives. There is an all-out undeclared war between the king and the political parties fighting for peace and democracy. In order to win this war, the king's government has been following the self-destructive policy of repression. The Rana administration perpetrated miseries on Nepalis for 104 years, how long the Shah administration would continue it by refusing to surrender the power usurped from the people?

On Tuesday, November 29, 2005, the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) launched an aerial attack indiscriminately firing from the air at the members of the "People's Liberation Army" holding a meeting in Jinabangma village in Rolpa district in Midwestern Nepal, a place considered a rebel bastion. In a statement, Maoist Leader Prachanda said, the army fire caused the death of two-Maoist commanders; they were self-styled division commander of the rebel "army", Khim Bahadur Thapa aka Sunil, and a "battalion vice-commander" Nirmam. Though saddened by the deaths, Prachanda said that his party decided not to call off the truce keeping in mind the wish of the Nepali people for democracy and peace. [29]

The RNA's assault on the Maoists clearly indicated that the king using the army as a tool wanted to disrupt the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists for setting up peace and democracy, and continue the conflict and violence so that he would have a perpetual excuse for running the country with his iron hands.

On December 01, 2005, CPN-UML General Secretary, Madhav Kumar Nepal said, "the parties have not decided to go for a republican setup as yet. We have left it to the people to decide the future of the king.” It clearly indicated that the parliamentary parties were determined to go to the people instead of to the king for settling the long-standing issue of peace and democracy in the country.

What difference would make the memorandum of the 12-point understanding between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance signed off in New Delhi or at the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania where King Gyanendra enjoyed the extended holidays [30] while the seven-party alliance and the Maoists were engaged in understanding each other in New Delhi. Monarchists have been labeling the political leaders going back and forth to the foreign land for talks with the Maoists as anti-nationalistic. The historical events such as the primacy of the Shah dynasty was restored in New Delhi in 1950, Tamil rebels and the Sri-Lankan government held Initial negotiations in Bhutan and Thailand, and the Aceh agreement was struck in Helsinki, to justify the talks between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists in New Delhi. Whether with the consent of the palace or on their own, some peace-wreckers are active behind the scenes to sabotage the first tangible step taken toward getting the Maoists to abandon armed struggle and bring them into the political fold. After switching their slogans from democracy to peace, the parties are getting an overwhelming response across Nepal. From Butwal to Pokhara, the CPN-UML has been drawing huge crowds to its protest rallies. NC leaders have been reaching out to their rural constituencies for the first time in six years. Unlike rented crowds that were bussed-in to cheer the king at district headquarters, these people have turned up despite roadblocks at the great personal risk. The people seem to want to forgive the parties’ past mistakes if they can deliver peace. [31]

First, Maoists believe that they can go on fighting for a long time and the military can’t finish them off. Second, they can’t capture the state power through the barrel of the gun. Even if they can capture it, they cannot keep it for long time. They know the international political situation is not in their favor. Neighboring countries are not supportive of their cause. Past international experiences have shown that in the absence of a favorable international situation, such a regime can’t last long. The Maoists have considered all these ground realities and developed a new strategy. The seven-party alliance believes that the people's power prevails over guns. That is why they will never resort to violence. If unarmed people uprooted the well-equipped Shah of Iran, there is no reason why it can’t happen in Nepal. If the Maoists resort to arms again, those in power will have to take the blame. [32]

The international community is disappointed at the seven-party alliance following the Maoists’ agenda. It also questioned how the Maoists such as Mohan Baidya, alias Kiran serving a jail term in Siligugdi, India and CP Gajurel, alias Gaurab in Chennai, India could participate in the talks with the seven-party alliance in New Delhi. [33] It indicates the Indian authorities are behind the scene in the talks between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists, and in reaching the 12-point understanding between them

The 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists resulted in part from the decision taken by the CPN (Maoist) plenum a couple of weeks earlier in the Rolpa highlands. The royal rightwing, an angry army unwilling to concede political resolution and the western ambassadors remote from the hurly-burly of the Nepali political process and disrespectful to it could endanger it. The idea of the country will collapse with a weakened kingship or no kingship panic some embassies in Kathmandu. However, the CPN-UML Leader Madhav Kumar Nepal says, “Nepal is not a country without institutions. The parties will not allow a political vacuum.” The 12-point understanding has returned the politicians to the driver’s seat of national affairs. The self-aggrandizing mediators of the past, the heavily-funded Nepali and expatriate conflict resolution consultants and the competing international think tanks that presumed to guide Nepalis out of the morass–all have been superseded by the political parties in the peoples’ hour of desperation. The names of those who met Pushpa Kamal Dahal in Delhi on November 17 say it all and they deserve respect – Girija Prasad Koirala, Madhav Kumar Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, Krishna Sitaula, Amik Sherchan, Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Hridayesh Tripathi. In the past, the political parties could not generate crowds against the king in the name of democracy because the people first wanted peace. Today, they know King Gyanendra is not inclined to grant either, while the political parties are poised to provide both peace and democracy. That is why the rallies in Kalikot, Bharatpur, Butwal, Pokhara and Janakpur have brought in the crowds. [34]

On Wednesday, November 30, 2005, talking to the reporter of the state-run newspaper Gorkhapatra in his hometown in Biratnagar, son of the Congress Party Leader BP Koirala and Minister for Environment, Science and Technology in the current royal government, Prakash Koirala alleged that India engineered the recent understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the CPN (Maoist) in retaliation for the Nepal taking a stand on giving China a status of observer in the SAARC Summit held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on November 12 and 13, 2005. He said that India worked for the understanding after the Nepal’s new position on its foreign policy during the SAARC Summit went against the India's interest. He further said that the government would not remain mute to treacherous understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. Referring to one of the clauses of the understanding between the seven-party alliance and the Maoist that says the Royal Nepalese Army and the Maoists’ armed forces be placed under the supervision of the United Nations or any credible international agency when elections to a constituent assembly are taking place, Minister Koirala said that how it could be possible for an independent nation to place its army under the UN or someone's supervision. He further said it was something that has never happened anywhere in the world. “This only shows that they are politically bankrupt.” [35]. The NC expelled Mr. Koirala from its membership for supporting the royal takeover on February 01, 2005.

Eyeing many lucrative posts in the cabinet, in the state-owned corporations and ambassadorial positions, the followers of the royal regime are miserably trying to pretend that the party-rebel understanding means nothing and there is nothing new in it. These people can only benefit from the current set-up, so they want to see it holds on despite the serious and legitimate questions over its legitimacy and constitutionality. Hence, pro-palace politicians, intellectuals, and former army generals do not miss the opportunity to denounce the 12-point understanding and do not fail to stress that the understanding has no relevance since the 'state authority' was not involved in it. The state authority that they are trying to keep at the center of political events has already squandered that opportunity many times. Let us not forget that it was the Doramba massacre of 18 Maoists and one civilian by the RNA soldiers in August 2003 that derailed the peace-talks and forced the Maoists to go back to the jungle. Now, the parties have gone ahead and done what the government formed after February 1, 2005 has been unwilling to do: make the Maoists pledge for competitive multi-party democracy and embrace non-violent politics. [36]

Leader of Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, member of the seven-party alliance, Narayan Man Bijukkche expressed serious concerns over the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. His concern was for placing the Royal Nepalese Army and the Maoist militia under the UN or any other credible international agency's supervision during elections for a constituent assembly, which he thought, might jeopardize the Nepal’s independence and sovereignty.

A mythical leader of the Nepal’s underground communist movement during the 1970s and 80s but now sidelined, C.P. Mainali shares the Bijukkche’s concern about the placing of the Nepalese army under the foreign supervision. Referring to the Nepal’s geopolitical position, Mainali hinted that this could provoke a strong reaction from the northern neighbor, China.

General Secretary of Janamorcha Nepal, member of the seven-party alliance, Nabaraj Subedi echoed Bijukkche’s and Mainali’s profound concern about keeping the army and the Maoists militia under the foreign supervision.

Addressing a huge rally held by his party in Bhaktapur on Wednesday, December 7, 2005, Former Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala for the first time in public said that he met with the Maoist leaders face-to-face in the process of reaching the 12-point understanding. President Koirala accused the king of rejecting peace out of fear that he would lose his excuse for autocratic rule. "The three-month-long unilateral ceasefire of the Maoists expired without any gesture for peace from the palace," said he "Instead, the king was wandering in Africa". He said the recent 12-point understanding with the Maoists was an attempt to bring the rebels in the political mainstream. “And it is only a beginning toward the peace process,” said he “It is not the complete accord in itself.” President Koirala said that the 12-point understanding with the rebels was within the mandate of the seven-party alliance, and the parties have not changed their demand for House restoration. "We cannot reach a destination if we follow the wrong path," said he. Nepali Congress Party General Secretary Ram Chandra Poudel said the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists instilled hope and confidence in people. "But it has created panic in the palace," said he "The palace, which is founded on violence, never wants peace." [37]

A meeting of the top leaders of the seven-party alliance held on Saturday, December 10, 2005 decided to go on clarifying the 12-point understanding reached with Maoists, and continue negotiations with the Maoists in phase wise manner. They also concluded that the king's government was facing growing isolation both internally and externally. The meeting held at the headquarters of Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi) ended without much concurrence on the vital issue of monitoring of the activities of the Nepalese Royal Army and the Maoist rebels either by the UN or any dependable third party during the elections to the Constituent Assembly. Janamorcha Nepal (JN), United Left Front (ULF) and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP)) were against it. JN and ULF leaders have been saying that it could also mean foreign military intervention. CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal told reporters after the meeting, “We are not very clear on what monitoring exactly implies.” [38]

Former Prime Minister and Leader of the Nepali Congress, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai said that he had an audience with the king, and advised the king to relinquish the power, and keep the prestige, the monarchy has owned so far. He said to the king, "if the monarchy loses prestige it will never be able to regain it.” He also welcomed the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists, and said, "it is a positive move to end the current political crisis." “The understanding can be the first step toward the establishment of a lasting peace in the country,” said he. [39]

The 12-point pact raised hopes of peace. Some super royalists, commie-haters and doubting persons think it is fatally flawed. It may have some holes but it is the most positive step towards peace in a long time. Just listen to professional organizations, human rights activists, the business community and ordinary Nepalis. Every sector of society has welcomed the move to mainstream the insurgents. Even usually cautious outsiders like the Americans have lent support, Kofi Annan thinks it is a good idea, the Swiss have been most vociferous in welcoming the move and have even promised to facilitate a settlement. Popular support for the pact is roughly proportional to the rejection of the royalists. Splitting hairs over the 12-point agreement is a sure sign of the existential crisis that the ultra right finds itself in: where would they go if the king’s absolute rule came to an end? They have no popular base, very little business integrity to survive in a true free market, and no occupation to sustain the lifestyle that they have got accustomed to. Their fear is not for the country but for their own future. So, they want to scuttle the peace process before it even gets started. For the seven-party alliance and the Maoists, the coming weeks are critical. The rebels have been playing their cards well, putting the palace on the defensive with its unilateral ceasefire and peace mongering. [40]

To turn the Maoist MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the parties into a tripartite agreement and steer the country back to peace, stability and development would be the right path. The royal regime appears to take the agreement as a direct threat to it. Going by his track record over the past three years, the king thinks he can ride this out and even seems to be working on a parallel deal with the Maoists when Kesar Bahadur Bista, Kamal Thapa and Narayan Singh Pun got appointments to the Council of Ministers. Because Pun was the architect of the 2002-peace process with the Maoists, there was speculation the royal regime was finally responding, albeit indirectly, to the initiative taken by the parties and the Maoists toward peace. But the new ministers' pronouncements made in their first week in office indicate that their terms of reference are solely to conduct municipal elections. The palace needs to respond positively to the party-rebel agreement and tighten the bolts on a tripartite peace process. [41]

Senior leaders of Nepali Congress-Democratic (NC-D) criticized Party President Sher Bahadur Deuba for his remarks on certain parts of the 12-point understanding reached between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance. During the second-day informal meeting of the party's Central Working Committee (CWC) on Wednesday, March 2, 2006, they said it was an irresponsible remark of President Deuba on the pact because it was given to him for his study before signing while he was still in jail. Expressing surprise at the leadership and others, a senior member of the party, Bal Bahadur KC said, “It can be flayed only if the party expects to get out of the seven-party alliance.” Party President Deuba demanded scrapping of the rebels’ court as a major precondition for accepting the pact. Dr Minendra Rijal and some other CWC members toed the line followed by Party President Deuba. [42]

On Tuesday, March 7, 2006, speaking at a program in Kathmandu, Member of the Standing Committee of the CPN-UML, K.P Sharma Oli said that the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoist rebels would be made clearer soon. Admitting a few CPN-UML and NC leaders had recently gone to the Indian capital, New Delhi, CPN-UML leader Mr. Oli said, “Talks will be held with the Maoists about the restoration of democracy and peace, resolving the violent conflict and transforming the Maoists.” “The alliance leaders are keeping up their efforts to make the understanding more concrete and clear,” he said. “The leaders will also try to garner a clear and effective support of India for the on-going movement for the restoration of democracy in Nepal,” Mr. Oli said. Nepali Congress (NC) leaders Krishna Prasad Sitaula, CPN-UML leaders Bam Dev Gautam and Jhala Nath Khanal, and leader of Ekata Kendra-Mashal, Narayan Kaji Shrestha ‘Prakash’ were in Delhi to establish contacts with top Maoist leaders. On Sunday, March 5, 2006, speaking at a program organized at Jalbire Village, Maoist Politburo Member, Agni Prasad Sapkota a.k.a. "Kanchan" confirmed that the Maoists and the seven-party alliance leaders were engaged in serious discussions over the pact. He said, "The seven-party alliance and the Maoists are soon to issue a joint appeal based on the 12-point pact." He also said that the Maoists were ready to show maximum flexibility not to break their understanding with the seven-party alliance. [43]

Leaders of the seven-party alliance said that they were holding talks with the Maoists to fine-tune the 12-point understanding and encourage them to call off blockades and the general strike, and declare a unilateral truce. “We are engaged in talks with the Maoists to encourage them to call off the blockade and nationwide strike and effectively implement the 12-point understanding reached with the alliance. The talks are being held at various stages,” said Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Member of the Standing Committee CPN-UML. Nepali Congress Leader Arjun Narsingh KC told the US diplomat, Donald Camp that Nepal would not return to democracy; and peace would not be restored without bringing the Maoists into peaceful politics. “I told Camp that the alliance will be able to bring the Maoists into peaceful politics through the 12-point understanding and that it is not possible for the rebels to impose a communist dictatorship given the country’s geo-political situation,” said K.C. Leader of Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi), Sarita Giri said the alliance must be able to convince the US and other countries of the 12-point pact was good. “If we walk out of the pact, more bloodshed cannot be ruled out,” she said. The US has expressed dissatisfaction with the 12-point pact between the Maoists and the seven-party alliance reached in November 2005 and said consensus between the King and political parties was a must for resolving the problems dogging the country and for tackling Maoist insurgency. [44]

On Friday, March 10, 2006, leaders of the seven-party alliance were continuing clandestine talks with top Maoist leaders. The seven-party alliance leaders talking to the Maoists included Bam Dev Gautam, Jhala Nath Khanal and Pramesh Hamal of the CPN-UML; Krishna Sitaula and Mahantha Thakur of the Nepali Congress; Ameek Sherchan of the People's Front Nepal, and Narayan Kaji Shrestha 'Prakash' of the CPN-Unity Center. Topmost Maoist leaders such as Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara joined by their lieutenants were the members of the talking team of the Maoists. [45]

Leaders of the seven-party alliance said that the seven-party alliance and the Maoists were holding talks with a view to evolve a single view on the procedure of going for an election to a constituent assembly and to further strengthen the 12-point pact. On Saturday, March 11, 2006, speaking at an interaction in Kathmandu, Central Committee Member of the CPN-UML, Shankar Pokharel, outlined the need for finding consensus between the parties and the Maoists on the procedure of the constituent assembly. Pokharel said, "The alliance and the Maoists have differences of opinions about the ways of holding the assembly polls. Content of the talks would not be made public unless they were agreed upon between the two sides." Central Working Committee Member of the Nepali Congress (NC), Dr Shekhar Koirala said, “We are holding serious talks with the Maoists to further strengthen the understanding and get it fully implemented.” He also informed that the talks are underway to remove confusions that emerged since the signing of the understanding. Vice chairman of the People’s Front Nepal, Lilamani Pokharel pointed out the need for upgrading the 12-point understanding between the political parties and Maoists and hoped that the talks would bring positive results. [46]

The Maoists and the seven-party alliance for restoration of democracy agreed to form an interim government by holding a national political conference of the agitating democratic forces and to establish full-fledged democracy by holding elections to the Constituent Assembly. On behalf of the seven-party Alliance, Nepali Congress spokesman Krishna Sitaula and Party Treasurer Mahanta Thakur, CPN-UML's Senior Politburo Members Jhalanath Khanal and Bamdev Gautam, Janamorcha Nepal President Amik Serchan and CPN-Unity Center leader Prakash inked the agreement while CPN-Maoist Chief Prachanda signed for the rebels. [47]

In Kathmandu, on Sunday March 19, 2006, the seven-party alliance and the Maoist rebels made public the second Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached between them after secret talks held between the second-generation seven-party alliance leaders and the Maoists in the Indian capital, New Delhi. A meeting of the seven-party alliance leaders held at the resident of Nepali Congress (NC) President Girija Prasad Koirala in Kathmandu made public the second MoU. The Maoists made public the same separately through a statement issued by their leader Prachanda alias Pushpa Kamal Dahal later in the afternoon. The new MoU failed to address the difference between the two sides on the political agenda of a constituent assembly but they have vowed to hammer out “a common agenda in course of time through mutual understanding.” On the question of the constituent assembly, the alliance has reiterated its earlier stance on the revival of the parliament while the Maoists have opted for an all-party conference followed by constituent assembly elections. NC President Girija Prasad Koirala, CPN-UML Acting General Secretary Amrit Kumar Bohara, NC-D president Sher Bahadur Deuba, Janmorch Nepal’s Vice-president Leela Mani Pokharel, Nepal Peasants and Workers Party President Narayan Man Bijuckkche, Nepal Sadhbhabana Party (Ananddevi) General Secretary Rajendra Mahato and United Left Front President Nand Kumar Prasai signed off the second MoU on behalf of the seven-party alliance. In his statement, Maoist chairman Prachanda said that the second understanding “will pave the way to find a common political agenda in the days ahead.” Prachanda also claimed that the Maoists are committed to work in collaboration with the seven-party alliance in the spirit of 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists in November 2005. In a press statement, the seven-party alliance urged the Maoists to create an environment conducive to its peaceful protest programs and support these programs. The alliance called on all to support its nationwide general strike and non-cooperation protest programs to be held on April 6-9, 2006 and a “huge peaceful protest program” in Kathmandu on April 8, 2006. [48]

In New Delhi, India, on Sunday evening, March 19, 2006, having successfully pulled off another understanding upholding the 12-point understanding with the Maoist rebels in November 2005, the Seven Party Alliance negotiators were heaving a sigh of relief. "It's the second milestone in our movement for complete democracy or 'Loktantra' for a peaceful and prosperous Nepal," Nepali Congress spokesperson and negotiator Krishna Sitaula said while taking a walk in Delhi's East of Kailash neighborhood. "It's finally become possible despite unfavorable circumstances. But we have several more steps to climb before we can have full democracy and peace." Negotiator Sitaula said, "Joint statement or separate, we finally have statements. Both sides will move ahead. And both sides want a common outcome from people's movement". At the Nepal Center at 25 Yusuf Sarai where the CPN-UML leaders were lodged, CPN-UML leader Jhalanath Khanal said, "This understanding has shown another important opening in the horizon. Its implications for a positive movement will reach far greater than from Mechi to Mahakali and the Prabash [across Nepal and beyond]." The negotiators also seemed happy about the fact that the international communities including India and the US have all along remained highly supportive of a peaceful movement in Nepal. [49]

In Kathmandu on Sunday, March 19, 2006, Prominent Member of Civil Society, Dr Devendra Raj Panday said that efforts on isolating the Maoists while trying to reconcile the parties and the palace would only perpetuate the King Gyanendra's autocratic rule in Nepal. "Those who say that parties and the government should not talk to Maoists and that the parties and the king should come together are only prolonging the civil war and autocracy," Dr Devendra Raj Panday told the reporter of 'The Kathmandu Post' at HAMS, the hospital where he was taken for general check-up after he complained of chest and digestion problems. He asked the parties and the Maoists to fully honor their respective commitments to their pact. The two sides signed a second agreement on Sunday, March 19, 2006 reiterating their pledge to the understanding reached in November 2005. "The pact is an antidote to autocracy," said Dr Panday. He also blasted US Ambassador James Moriarty for creating hurdles in restoring democracy and peace. "Neither King Gyanendra nor Moriarty have stakes here in Nepal," Dr Panday pointed out. "It is the people who have the stakes here and the parties better pay heed to that." [50]

Dr. Devendra Raj Pandey is a very bold person, and has a farsighted vision. So, he realized that the need for two of the three forces coming together to finish off the third forces in order to stop the bleeding in the country. Therefore, he vehemently defended the understanding reached between the constitutional forces and the rebels for redeeming the lost democracy in Nepal.

On Monday, March 20, 2006, before his departure for the US for a visit, Former Prime Minister and President of NC-D Sher Bahadur Deuba said that he would try to explain to the US government the rationale behind the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists during his stay there. "I will meet some US senators and Nepalis residing in the US and lobby them for their moral support for the ongoing democratic movement carried out by the seven-party alliance," said NC-D president Deuba. He also said that he never criticized the 12-point understanding so as to seek its end; rather his aim was to make it more comprehensive and dependable and persuade the international community to back it. In response to a question about the skeptical attitudes of the US Ambassador to Nepal on the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party and the Maoists, Former Prime Minister Deuba recalled the recent statement of US President George W Bush while he was in Delhi. Bush had said Maoists should abandon violence and the king should reach out to the parties to resolve the crisis. "Now, the seven-party alliance has reached an understanding with the Maoists to bring them into the democratic political mainstream by persuading them to abandon violence." he said. [51]

On Feb. 15, 2006, speaking at a talk program held jointly by the Ganesh Man Singh Academy and the American Center in Kathmandu, US Ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty said that the 12-point understanding reached between the Maoists and the seven political parties was fraught with danger for the political parties themselves and for the future of the Nepali people. 'Political terror practiced with particular ferocity in the run-up to the municipal elections by the Maoists sets a fearsome precedent and could impair the democratic credentials of their political party partners', Ambassador Moriarty said, without real progress between the two legitimate political forces—the king and the parties, the Maoist would continue to gain advantage. However, the political parties have ignored the uncomfortable fact that their Maoist partners are committed to violence to achieve political ends. Stating that the 12-point understanding does not suggest that the Maoists are truly committed to peace and democracy, the American Ambassador also said that the recent interview and articles by the Maoist leadership clearly show that they would continue employing murder, extortion and intimidation as tactics of their choice. "The United States continues to call for reconciliation between the King and parties", Ambassador Moriarty said adding that reconciliation between the two legitimate forces could provide Nepal the path back to genuine democracy and an effective means to counter the Maoist insurgency. [52]

Within days of Ambassador Moriarty's attack on the 12-point understanding, the Indian side informed the leadership of the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and other parties that the U.S. Ambassador's negative assessment of the understanding was not shared by New Delhi. But with Washington keen for the parties to sever their ties with the Maoists, India appears to have gone back to sitting on the fence. Ambassador Moriarty's criticism last month of the 12-point agreement between the parties and the Maoists has been reiterated recently by Donald Camp, U.S. State Department's point man for Nepal. "We are concerned that Maoists, who have refused to renounce violence, have gained a greater degree of legitimacy from their engagement with the political parties," Mr. Camp told a Congressional committee in Washington on Wednesday, (March 15, 2006). The 12-point understanding, he said, "has further consolidated [the Maoists'] power and strengthened their position against the king." With the U.S. administration ranged openly against any further deepening of political relations between the Maoists and the parties, India has been reluctant publicly to articulate its view that there is still plenty of scope for the two to work in tandem. [53]

On Monday, March 20, 2006, speaking at an interaction program held by the Reporters' Club in Kathmandu, Co-chairperson of Rastriya Janasakti Party (RJP) Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani said that the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists would not last long. "The Maoists, who believe in the barrel of the gun as the source of power, and the political parties, which are against the use of violence for political purpose, cannot travel on a single political boat for a long time," Dr Lohani said. He also said that more than five months had passed since the two sides inked the understanding but the rebels have failed to live up to the agreed points. The Maoists are still engaged in kidnapping and murdering political workers, he added. "The political cadres belonging to the seven-party alliance are still not showing the courage to put forth their views openly in the villages. The Maoists have not returned back the property they had seized from the members of the seven-party alliance." [54]

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of 12th Municipal Council of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) on Friday, March 24, 2006, Home Minister and the President of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Kamal Thapa termed the second understanding reached between the seven political parties and the Maoists on March 19, 2006 as 'one more mistake' made by the parties. Home Minister Thapa said the second accord was clearly a part of the 'Maoist Agenda' to rift the relationship between constitutional forces. Referring to the past experience, Home Minister Thapa said the 12-point accord between the parties and the rebels had proved worthless. The government considered the March-19 accord as a joint program of the parties and the Maoists and would treat them accordingly. [55]

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the 12th Municipal Council meeting of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Home Minister Kamal Thapa on Friday, March 24, 2006 warned that the government would treat the Seven-Party Alliance on a par with the Maoists if they failed to review the second edition of their understanding reached with the rebels. Minister Thapa said, "Though issued separately, the understanding has the same content and programs. The second understanding reached between the Seven-Party Alliance and the Maoists has made it clear that the movement is now not only a movement of the Seven-Party Alliance but also of the Maoists. The Government has understood it that way and will act accordingly." Home Minister Thapa said, "With a view to saving the country from possible disaster, the Seven-Party Alliance must review the understanding. This serious mistake must be corrected." Repeating his call to review the Seven-Party Alliance-Maoist pact, he said, "The perspective for looking at the Maoists is wrong. This is clearly reflected in the ever-increasing incidence of violence and killings after the 12-point understanding between the two." [56]

The US is very skeptical about the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists as they have bitter memories of the massacre of Cambodians by the communists. The then-Polpot regime did it with the support of Chairman Mao who wanted to make Cambodia a clean slate for the communist experiment eliminating all non-communists. There is a rare chance of happening such things in Nepal. However, it is quite natural to be scared of the communists coming to power. So, the attempts of the seven-party alliance to bring the Maoists to the mainstream politics through the peaceful means is much more relevant than attempting to finish them off militarily at the cost of innumerable human lives and sufferings of many more of their loved ones.

India is not much concerned with the possibility of the Maoists taking Kathmandu and rule the country with their iron fists as India knows the characters of Nepalis and at the same time India has the experiences in coping with the communists and other kinds of insurgency for more than 50 years, and India continues to have the problems of insurgency. So, India does not believe in the Maoists coming to power in Nepal.

The international community thinks that the king drove the constitutional forces to the side of the rebels. The king neither wanted to talk to the constitutional forces nor to the rebels for bringing back peace and political stability in the country. He is quite adamant that he would not negotiate with both the constitutional forces and the rebels. His uncompromising position on his authority and on his trampling the Constitution of 1990 has put the country in the current state of the political stalemate and even crisis. Is the king not responsible for the ongoing bloodshed refusing to settle the conflict through the peaceful means?

Now, with the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the rebels, and further strengthened by the second round of the talks and negotiation, the king needs to fight a war on only one front. Nepalis will watch and see who will win the war. The fate of the monarchy will also depend on its moral strength as Einstein said about the human race.

Footnotes

[1] Nepali text of the understanding is as published in the Nepali media online and otherwise. The author (Siddhi B. Ranjitkar) translated it into English

[2] Nepali Media including the state-run media

[3] The state-owned newspaper, 'The Rising Nepal', November 24, 2005

[4] Kantipur Online (KOL) on November 23, 2005.

[5] Indian Government's press release

[6] UN Web site

[7] BBC NEWS

[8] Independent newspaper 'The Kathmandu Post' its editorial under the title ' Unprecedented'

[9] Nepalese media

[10] The Peninsula online, Qatar online

[11] Media Group Nepal, November 24, 2005

[12] Nepali Media, November 2005

[13] Rabindra Mishra writing for the BBC Nepali service.

[14] The state-run Nepalese media

[15] The members of the Council include Association of the Nepalis in the Americas (ANA), America Nepal Society (ANS), California, Nepalese Association in South East America ( NASeA), Nepali Youth Organization (NYO), Washington D.C., America Nepal Friendship Society (ANFS), New York, Association of the Nepalese in the Midwest America, Nepal Community Network of Canada (NCNC) and Greater Boston Nepali Community ( Boston).

[16] Nepali Media

[17] Nepali Media

[18] 'THE TIMES OF INDIA' ran an editorial stating in the issue of November 26, 2005.

[19] The government prohibited the community FM radio called Sagarmatha from airing this interview. The FM Sagarmatha filed a lawsuit against the government for not permitting to air the interview.

[20] Ajay Bose writing in "The Pioneer" under the title "Red-letter day for Nepal" gave his opinions on the recent political development

[21] Nepali Media

[22] The state-run newspaper 'The rising Nepal' in its issue of November 27, 2005 ran an editorial under the title 'Alliance Unlawful'.

[23] On November 28, 2005, Outlookindia.com reported that

[24] Dipta Shah writing online agency called Scoop.co.nz stated that

[25] Nepali Media

[26] NewsLineNepal.com November 29, 2005

[27] As published under the title 'Nepal's new alliance' in 'The Kathmandu Post' of November 30, 2005, the executive summary of the International Crisis Group's report on the understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists:

[28] Nepali Media

[29] Nepali Media

[30] The Nepalese Government paid Rs 80 million to the RNAC for using its aircraft.

[31] A columnist, CK Lal writing in the Nepali Times December 02-08, 2005

[32] UML General Secretary Madhab Kumar Nepal's expression on the Maoists' political and military strategy published in Deshantar of November 27, 2005 in Nepali, and translated version in the 'Nepali Times December 02-08, 2005', gave his two conclusions.

[33] A Nepali language newspaper, Nispakshya, in its November 29, 2005 issue

[34] A noted columnist, Mr. Kanak Mani Dixit writing in the Nepali Times of December 02-08, 2005

[35] The State-run press

[36] A columnist Damakant Jayshi writing in 'The Kathmandu Post' of December 05, 2005

[37] The Kathmandu Post December 08, 2005; nepalnews.com mk Dec 07, 05; NewsLineNepal.com December 07, 2005

[38] NewsLineNepal.com December 11, 2005; nepalnews.com pb Dec 11, 05

[39] KOL (Kantipur Online) Report, December 17, 2005.

[40] CK LAL in NEPALI TIMES DEC 16-22, 2005

[41] EDITORIAL, NEPALI TIMES DEC 16-22, 2005

[42] nepalnews.com pb Mar 02 06

[43] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-03-07 04:06:45 (Server Time)

[44] nepalnews.com pb Mar 11 06

[45] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-03-10 21:37:42 (Server Time)

[46] nepalnews.com pb Mar 12 06

[47] THE HINDU, March 20, 2006

[48] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-03-19 03:50:42 (Server Time)

[49] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-03-19 09:52:21 (Server Time)

[50] eKantipur.com Posted on: 2006-03-19 19:19:52 (Server Time)

[51] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-03-20 20:13:40 (Server Time)

[52] The Rising Nepal Feb 16, 2006

[53] THE HINDU, March 18, 2006

[54] The Rising Nepal, March 21, 2006

[55] The Rising Nepal March 25, 2006

[56] eKantipur.com Posted on: 2006-03-24 17:58:43 (Server Time)

* Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein, Rupa & C0, 1990 p95


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