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Maoists Unveil New Strategy To Retain Weapons

Maoists Unveil New Strategy To Retain Weapons Before UN Arrives

By Bhola B Rana

Maoists have unveiled a new strategy to retain their weapons before a UN team arrives next month to manage them. Chairman Prachanda revealed the Maoist plan as Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala said emphatically Maoists will have to surrender their weapons if they are to join an interim administration ahead of elections for a constituent assembly. According to the new Maoist strategy, they won't join the government but will lend it outside support while pushing for elections for a constituent assembly. Maoists, therefore, hope to go for elections for a constituent assembly with their weapons and without joining Singha Durbar. An election held, with armed Maoist participation, cannot be free, fair, impartial and independent. "If some changes are not forthcoming in the state structure, we will not go to power. Instead, we will effort outside support for a constituent assembly. "We will not go to power until there are changes in the state structure. I don't know if we will attain power soon. There is a feeling we will kneel down; that's not it; we're ready for any sacrifices."

Maoist Chairman Prachanda told BBC Nepali Service last Thursday. Similar feeling was echoed by Barsha Man Pun " Ananta' in Kantipur the following day as he ruled out the surrender of Maoist weapons. "Surrender of weapons right now may not be possible. We've called for a change in the state structure. We will stay in an interim parliament and will help the government in a peaceful manner for elections to a constituent assembly."


As several Maoist leaders predicted constituent assembly elections may not be held at all, Spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara warned of street protests leading to an October Revolution Nepali style. "If talks at the table are not heard, there will again be a popular revolt of the people," Mahara said in mid-West Nepal last week. "That popular uprising could be could be an October Revolution of special Nepali character. But it will be fundamentally different from what the United States thinks." Mahara charged Washington and New Delhi are interfering in Nepal while stalling Government, Maoist understanding.


Rashtriya Janasakti Party Chairman Surya Bahadur Thapa suggested constituent assembly elections should not be held even if rebel arms are managed by the UN because Maoists are terrorizing people in rural areas with small arms. "Maoists are carrying small arms and are moving around openly in rural areas. How can elections be held under such circumstances?" Thapa asked. "Only the management of Maoist weapons is inadequate. How can people participate in elections under such circumstances?" Meanwhile, Dinanath Sharma, a member of the rebel dialogue team said Maoists can acquire additional weapons even if the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is confined to cantonments with their arms by the UN monitoring team as envisaged. Maoist militia, with their free movement across the open 1,800 km Indo-Nepal border, can smuggle in weapons and explosives even after the confinement of the PLA to influence the vote in their favour.

After Prime Minister Koirala laid the condition for Maoists to disarm to join government, he went one step further and said rebels will be given political party status only after their weapons is decommissioned. Koirala suggested summit talks between the government and rebels after the UN team arrives when he proposed the adjournment of parliament to facilitate a dialogue.


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