Nepal: Peace talk deadline
By Indra Adhikari
Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Thursday evening announced the deadline for Communist Party (Maoists) to come for negotiating table by the 13th of January. The decision was taken by the cabinet a day after the High Level Peace Committee asked it to do so.
Prime MInister Sher Bahadur Deuba calling the rebels for peace talks in the given time. Photo by Sagar Shrestha.
He said the government was ready to find a political solution of the crisis the country has been facing for the last nine years.
He also assured that all agendas raised by the rebels would be discussed at the table. He said that the government would guarantee the security of the negotiating team of the Maoists.
The government has said that if the rebels do meet the deadline, it would head for general election. The King had given him the mandate to start parliamentary elections by Mid April 2005 when he was appointed to the post some five months back. The government has been arguing that elections were possible as the security forces were able to ensure security. But Maoists have repeatedly said that they would not allow government to hold elections except elections to constituent assembly, their prime demand.
The Prime Minister's office said that he would initiate talks with other political parties and leaders of civil society for modalities of peace talks.
The government's deadline for peace-talks has drawn mixed reaction from the political leaders. At a face-to-face program in the capital the following day, leaders of political parties said they doubt over a positive response from the rebels for peace-talks deadlines. Similar calls have been made in the past by the government but without any results.
"The appeal was not serious," said Nepali Congress leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Ram Chandra Paudel. He argues that king is directing the government for such actions. However, Bam Dev Gautam of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist and Leninist), the largest coalition partner in the government welcomed the decision.
In response, a central committee member of Maoists Amar Sharma alias Pratap said that his party would not hold any talks with government appointed by the king. He termed the government ultimatum as mere ploy. He was addressing a mass in Pyuthan, newspapers report said.
Maoists have been demanding a direct talk with the king after the second round of peace talks failed to reach any decision. The rebels have already sat two times on negotiating table with the government but both the talks ended without any progress. Both the warring groups accused one another for failure of the peace negotiations. The last peace talks ended in limbo after a serious debate over squeezing security forces within five kilometer from the barrack. The rebels said formerly the government agreed but failed to implement after security authorities denied the decision. Security forces are controlled by the King and as and such Maoists demand direct talks with him.