October 2007

Vol 7 - No. 4
 

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SOUTH ASIA - Nepal |
October 2007

 


______________________________________________________________________________

 

News Briefs

 



 (Afghanistan and Myanmar in the 
  map are not members of SAARC)

 

Clouds of Uncertainty

BY PRASANTA KUMAR PRADHAN
Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management

The three bomb blasts in capital Kathmandu on September 2, 2007, in which three people died and 25 others were wounded, are an indication of how tenuous the peace in Nepal is. While the bombings exposed the Government’s lack of security preparedness for the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections scheduled for November 22, the explosions occurred against the backdrop of a multiplicity of troublesome fronts and a beleaguered Government’s attempts to negotiate peace with an array of dissident groups across the country with divergent demands.

 

The Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (CPN-M), till recently the country’s principal rebel group, and now part of the Interim Government, constitutes a real threat to the conduct of elections and to the eventual end-game in Nepal. The CPN-M Chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal @ Prachanda, has threatened that his party could quit the Government and launch what he describes as a "peaceful agitation" if the parties leading the Government were not ready to declare Nepal a republic. On August 19, he announced a 22-point set of preconditions for ‘credible’ Constituent Assembly elections. He said the CPN-Maoist would launch an agitation on three fronts – the Government, the Parliament and the street – for the fulfillment of its demands. He further warned of a full-blown "people’s movement" if the demands were not met. On September 8, he escalated his threats further, calling on Maoist cadres to "be ready for another revolution", putting a 10-day deadline for a ‘fresh pact’ with the Seven Party Alliance and declaring that CA elections could be held only after the 22 Point Maoist charter of demands was fulfilled. Failing a new agreement with the SPA, Prachanda threatened that the ‘new revolution’ would commence on September 18.

 

Earlier, Ganesh Man Pun, the President of the frequently violent Maoist-affiliate, the Young Communist League (YCL), had declared that "physical action" could not be ruled out in the course of their projected agitation. Further, reiterating that a meaningful election could not be held without first declaring a Republic, senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai warned that his party could walk out of Government at any time. He has also stated that the time was not opportune for the Constituent Assembly election. Prachanda had also proposed a postponement of the Constituent Assembly election to mid-April 2008, but eventually did a U-turn on this count, stating that the comment had been made in "a different context".

 

The declaration of republic is one of the Maoists’ principal preconditions. However, a two-thirds majority is needed in Parliament to declare Nepal a republic, and this is not possible without the support of the Nepali Congress (NC). The latest reports indicate that the Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala-led NC will campaign for a republic in the elections. "The central working committee of Nepali Congress has decided, in principle, to vouch for a federal republic," Nepali Congress chief whip Ananda Prasad Dhungana told AFP. The decision has to be approved later this month by a 615-member general Assembly. "If the assembly ratifies it, Nepali Congress will officially stand for a federal republic in the coming constituent assembly elections," said Dhungana. Earlier, the NC was not in favour of declaring Nepal a republic and reportedly wanted to retain the monarchy as a ceremonial institution. On their part, the Maoists are clear that they intend to erase all remnants of the disgraced monarchy and establish a republic immediately.

 

On the ground, the Maoists continue to engage in subversive, disruptive and intimidatory activity, and are applying continuous pressure on the fragile Government, which is clearly susceptible to threats from various quarters. While the infamous YCL continues with its intimidation across the country, other pro-Maoist groups have also pitched in. The Buddhist ethnic group, Nepal Rashtriya Tamang Mukti Morcha (Tamang National Liberation Front), is pressurizing the Government by demanding autonomy and a republic. They have organised strikes and shut downs in the Kathmandu, Makawanpur, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, Makawanpur, Dhading, Nuwakot and Rasuwa Districts. Similarly, another Maoist-affiliated organisation, the Samyukta Ganatantrik Dalit Mukti Morcha (United Democratic Dalit Liberation Front), comprising members of the dalit (lower caste Hindus) community, is demanding proportional representation for dalits in the impending election, and a republic.

 

Apart from the overwhelming Maoist threat, conducting elections in the Terai region will be a major challenge for the Government, even if the Maoists extend fullest support to the electoral process. Though the Government has been able to strike a 22-point agreement with the Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) on August 30, other groups like the factions of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) led by Jaya Krishna Goit (JTMM-G) and by Nagendra Kumar Paswan aka Jwala Singh (JTMM-J) have openly challenged the Government by declaring their intention to interrupt the CA elections in Terai. In fact, Jwala Singh has already declared Terai an independent state and asked the Government officials posted there to leave or face adverse action. Similarly, Goit has warned the Government of the consequences of holding elections in the Terai. The Koirala regime, however, remains gripped by apathy. Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula claimed on August 6 that no agitating group in the Terai poses any threat to national integrity. He added, further, that none of the agitating groups in the Terai, including both the JTMM factions, were separatists and that the Government can find a negotiated settlement with all of them.

 

While the Terai’s non-MJF groups are still not on board, much depends on how the treaty with the MJF can be implemented. The important points of the pact are:

  • The Government will provide compensation to the families of all those killed during the recent Madhesh movement.

  • The Government will withdraw cases filed against the MJF cadres.

  • The Madheshi language and culture is to be accorded national recognition.

  • The state is to ensure balanced and proportional representation of marginalised communities, including the Madheshis, in all state structures.

  • The Government agrees to autonomy in a federal system of governance while restructuring the state, keeping the country’s sovereignty, unity and regional integrity intact.

  • The state agrees to send teams to the Terai to distribute citizenship certificates to those who remain deprived of these.

  • Return of properties and personal arms seized by the Maoists to their respective owners.

The situation has, however, been rendered more complex after the pact with the MJF. Expressing dissatisfaction with the agreement, four senior leaders of the MJF dissented and ‘ousted’ their chief Upendra Yadav, who had been instrumental in clinching the deal. Yadav, of course, insists that the party’s ‘secretariat’ has no right to take such action against anyone. In response, the dissidents formed a four-member body under the convenorship of Bhagyanath Prasad Gupta to mobilise and coordinate a fresh Madheshi movement. The body includes other senior leaders such as Kishor Kumar Biswas, Ram Kumar Sharma and Jitendra Sonal. Factionalism also affects other Madheshi groups. For instance, a central committee meeting of the JTMM-G on September 2 suspended its co-ordinator Jaya Krishna Goit from the group's general membership, alleging that he was engaged in embezzlement, and unanimously elected another leader, Pawan to the post.

 

Intermittent violence continues to afflict the Terai and, according to Institute for Conflict Management data, 14 incidents involving various armed groups were reported in June 2007, 23 in July and 12 in August. Fatalities included one civilian and four Maoists killed in June, eight civilians and three Maoists in July and six civilians killed in August. Apart from the killings and a large number of abductions, the Madheshi groups have been involved in capturing land and disturbing day to day life by calling for frequent strikes in the region.

 

With several armed groups already active and new groups emerging, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Government to deal with the situation. Armed groups like the Terai Army (which, incidentally, claimed responsibility for the September 2 serial blasts in Kathmandu along with the Terai Utthan Sangat), the Terai Cobra, JTMM (Bisfot Singh faction), Madheshi Mukti Tigers, Terai Baagi, Madheshi Virus Killers Party and the Royal Defence Army, reportedly possess enough capacities to create disturbances during the polls.

 

The Government is also under pressure from various indigenous communities. Their major demands include a federal restructuring of the state based on ethnic lines, the ‘right to self determination’ and a proportional representation-based election system. All the major groups representing the indigenous communities have united for a common struggle on these demands. Groups like the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities Students, Indigenous Nationalities Joint Struggle Committee, National Indigenous Nationalities Women’s Federation and Nepal Indigenous Nationalities Youth Association have joined hands to pressurise the Government, resorting to strikes and agitations across the country. They have also indulged in some occasional violence, including the destruction of public property during demonstrations. The leader of the Government talks’ team, Ram Chandra Poudel, expressed the Government’s inability to entertain all such demands by ethnic groups, stating: "There are over 100 ethnic groups in the country and if all of them are to be represented, the Constituent Assembly will be more of an ethnic assembly and less of a political assembly."

 

The two agitating ethnic groups, the Limbuwans and Khumbuwans, have been organising strikes in the eastern Districts, demanding an autonomous federal state based on ethnicity. Their avowed goal is the creation of autonomous regions along the boundaries of the traditional areas of their ethnic groups. They have resorted to sporadic violence and organized strikes in many Districts where these communities are in a majority. The Sanghiya Limbuwan Rajyaparisad [Federal Limbuwan State Council (FLSC)] has demanded that nine Districts lying east of the Arun River – Panchthar, Taplejung, Terhathum, Sankhusabha, Ilam, Jhapa, Dhankuta, Sunsari and Morang – be declared the Limbuwan State. Similarly, the Khumbuwan Rastriya Morcha (Khumbuwan National Front) is demanding a ‘Khumbuwan State’ comprising seven Districts – Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Udayapur, Bhojpur, Khotang, Siraha and Saptari. In response to a talks offer by the Government, both these outfits have decided to suspend their agitation and have also formed negotiating teams to hold a dialogue.

Chure Bhawar Ekta Samaj–Nepal (CBES-N, Chure Bhawar Unity Society) is another group which has been demanding security and protection of rights of people of hill origin living in the Terai region, seeking autonomous status for the Chure-Bhawar region. This group is a direct response to the activities of the Terai armed groups and represents the interests of the Tamang, Magar and some other hill-ethnic groups. They demand that the Government ban the Terai armed groups that are killing pahades in the Terai, and declare as martyrs the CBES-N cadres who are killed.

 

Similarly, the dalits are calling for the fulfillment of their demands, which includes 20 percent reservation for people from their community in the Constituent Assembly, scholarships and free education for dalit students.

 

All these above organisations have significant potential to disrupt the electoral process by resorting to strikes, threatening voters and officials and/or directly engaging in violence. A recent meeting held between the heads of the Nepal Army for five ‘development regions’ in the country is reported to have indicated that if the CA election was conducted in the prevailing security situation, "then the likelihood of violence could not be ruled out to a maximum and also that the political parties themselves possibly might be involved in violent activities with the competing parties." The Government at present is short of armed forces to conduct a free and fair nation- wide election. It needs a well-armed and well-trained force to secure the polls, keeping in view the number of active armed groups. Till now, the Government has included only the Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force in the election security plan. However, some parliamentarians from the NC and the Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist Leninist consider this insufficient and have reportedly proposed that the Nepal Army can be deployed if a consensus is reached on the issue among the eight parties. The Maoists oppose the idea of deploying the Nepal Army and, instead, want their People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to be given the responsibility of election security. PLA Deputy Commander, Janardan Sharma aka Prabhakar, has declared that, "If there is a decision to deploy the Nepal Army, the PLA should also be deployed for security in the elections." While the decision to deploy the Army is still pending, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula has hinted that the Government is planning to recruit an additional 30,000 security officials on a short-term contract for election security.

 

With a multiplicity of spoilers pressing on Kathmandu from all quarters, most players are hedging their bets on the outcome, indeed, even the possibility, of the scheduled CA elections. On the other hand, any further deferment of the elections can only worsen the potential for violence in the country. Nepal remains trapped in a dynamic unleashed by the violent and protracted Maoist ‘people’s war’; it is a dynamic, however, that has acquired a life of its own, no longer within the control of its Maoist progenitors.

 

[Source: South Asian Intelligence Review]

No Surprises Here

BY AJAI SAHNI
Editor, SAIR; Executive Director, Institute for Conflict Management

The Maoists have manoeuvred themselves to the centre of the democratic and political processes in Nepal, paralysed the Army, neutralized the King; and they have done this without the slightest dilution in their own capacities for violence, and with a significant expansion – including a dominant presence in the Kathmandu Valley – in their capacities for mass mobilization… The Maoist objective in Nepal is not the sharing of power. It is the seizure of power. This is the reality that will crystallize over the coming months and years.
- "The Seduction of Process", SAIR, Volume 5, No. 18, November 13, 2006"

 

For the past nearly six months since the Maoists joined the Government in Kathmandu – indeed, progressively since their 12-Point Understanding with the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) in November 2005 – a discourse of utter delusion has dominated analysis of Nepal’s politics. A number of ‘Nepal experts’ claiming direct access, variously, to the King, to the Army Command, to the Maoist party bosses and (the unfortunate stragglers) to the decrepit leaders of the SPA, have been painting rosy pictures, staking their reputations on the imminence of elections in November 2007, and a consequent permanent resolution of Nepal’s protracted troubles, furiously brushing every bit of contrary evidence under a carpet of verbiage. Diplomats and international organisations – ‘peacebuilders’, all – have joined in the make-believe with great enthusiasm, The less privileged among commentators scavenge the daily news for leavings, discovering nuance and suggestion in the sundry public statements, postures and pretensions of various political factions and leaders.

 

Behind all this – bare, obvious and assiduously ignored – are the ponderously shifting realities and imperatives of power. Never concealed, but widely neglected, was the simple truth that the Maoist engagement with democracy is tactical, not ideological – and could not be otherwise.

 

The Maoist withdrawal from the Interim Government on September 18, 2007, (the Party had four Ministers in the Cabinet, while one had resigned earlier, on August 2, over ‘differences’ with his Cabinet colleagues), and their announcement of an escalating campaign of protests and demonstrations, reflects their changing assessments of the equation of power within the country. Their ‘mass movement’ commenced a day after the Maoist withdrawal from the Government with a ‘door-to-door public awareness campaign’, but will intensify progressively with rallies and protests organised by ‘our sister organisations’, to culminate in a gherao (sit in) at all District Administration offices on September 30, and eventually a General Strike from October 4 to October 6, 2007. The final strike coincides with the Election Commission’s October 5 deadline for nominations to be filed for the scheduled November 22 Constituent Assembly (CA) Elections.

 

On leaving the Interim Government, the Maoists have clarified that they have not exited the ‘peace process’ and remain committed to the 12-Point Agreement with the SPA. They have, nevertheless, made it equally clear that the scheduled November elections are unacceptable, and will be disrupted. Among others, Ananta, a ‘deputy commander’ of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and a member of the Maoist Central Committee, reportedly declared: "All our sister organizations will be mobilized… to ensure the Constituent Assembly elections are unsuccessful."

 

It is interesting, in this context, to examine the dramatic shifts the Maoist position has undergone over the past months. The CA Elections were originally scheduled for June 20, 2007, on the basis of a "breathless timetable that creates the illusion of great and irreversible advances", and prior to this date, the Maoists were unqualified and enthusiastic advocates of early elections – the earlier the better. Their armed strength, their ‘influence’ in rural areas, their capacities to exclude and intimidate cadres of other political formations across wide areas of the country, and consequently, their ability to rig an overwhelming electoral outcome in their own favour, were undiluted. The King had been emasculated, the Army confined to barracks, the restoration of Police Stations and Police Posts – withdrawn over the years under the fury of the Maoist armed onslaught – had been effectively obstructed, the countryside belonged to them, and the deal with the SPA had given them renewed entry into and sway across the Kathmandu Valley and other urban centres – from which they had been excluded by harsh counter-terrorism measures under preceding regimes. The legitimacy of an electoral process appeared attainable, without the attendant risks of the ‘untidiness’ democratic processes bring with them. In effect, the authoritarian ideal of ‘one man, one vote, one time’, seemed within reach.

 

All that, however, changed very rapidly after the EC declared that it was impossible to complete the "technical processes" for the CA Elections on the June schedule. The Maoists were abruptly confronted with the uncertainties of a real election in November 2007, with a progressive challenge to their armed thuggery by competing armed thuggeries – particularly in the Terai region in Southern Nepal, along India’s borders , a significant dilution of their influence in rural Nepal, incipient political activity by other parties, and growing discontent and dissent within the Maoist cadres and leadership. Most observers now agree that the scheduled elections would have made the Maoists just one – and not necessarily the dominant one – of many parties in the Constituent Assembly, a position that would deny them the possibility of hammering through a Constitution that would secure their objectives of absolute or near-absolute authority.

 

Unsurprisingly, there was a rising chorus within the Maoist leadership for a postponement of Elections to the Summer of 2008, and increasing emphasis on a number of ‘grievances’, including, particularly, the conditions in the newly established Maoist ‘cantonments’ to which an estimated 30,000 People’s Liberation Army ‘cadres’ are currently restricted ( there are 28 camps across the country; most sources suggest that barely a third of the cadres in these are, in fact, members of the PLA, and the Maoists had ‘agreed’, on April 18, 2007, to bring down their number to 17,000); and the absorption of the PLA ‘soldiers’ into the national Nepali Army (formerly the Royal Nepalese Army, RNA). A 22-point ‘Charter of Demands’ was defined on August 20, 2007, including the demands for immediate abolition of the Monarchy and the declaration of a Republic in Nepal as a precondition to the CA Elections, and it was these two ‘prerequisites’ for continuing in the Government that were used as the principal justification for the eventual Maoist withdrawal. Maoist front organisations have argued that "The Maoists were left with no option but to launch a programme of strong protests to establish a Republic because Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala hesitated to express his commitment towards republicanism." It is, however, useful to see how the Maoist position has shifted on this count from its fundamental commitments in the various agreements with the SPA.

 

The 12-Point Understanding between the SPA and the Maoists (November 22, 2005) noted unambiguously:

 

It is our clear view that without establishing absolute democracy by ending autocratic monarchy, there is no possibility of peace, progress and prosperity in the country. Therefore, an understanding has been reached to establish absolute democracy by ending autocratic monarchy… (Emphasis added)

 

Thereafter, the Eight-point Agreement of June 16, 2006, resolved, inter alia, to:

  • Decide issues of national interest having long-term effects through consensus.

  • Guarantee the fundamental right of the Nepali people to participate in the Constituent Assembly elections without any fear, influence, threat and violence…

Finally and crucially, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of November 21, 2006, which formed the basis of the Interim Constitution and Government, and defined the arrangements for the management of Armed Forces, weapons and the terms of the peace and relationships between the Maoists and various other political formations in the country, noted explicitly:

 

No rights of state administration shall remain with the King. Bring the properties of late King Birendra, late Queen Aishwarya and their family members under the control of the Nepal Government and use it for the welfare purposes through a trust. All properties acquired by King Gyanendra by the virtue of him being the King (like palaces of various places, forests and conservation areas, heritage having historical and archaeological importance) shall be nationalised. Determine the fate of the institution of monarchy by the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly through simple majority vote. (Emphasis added)

It is useful to note, here, that the King has been stripped of all administrative powers and his command over the Army. His assets have been frozen, and, while he continues to reside at the Nagarjuna Palace, five kilometres Northwest of his earlier residence, the Narayanhiti Royal Palace, all palaces, properties and assets, other than the wealth or property he had acquired before he became King, have been nationalised. Indeed, the King’s isolation and impotence are complete – though Maoist advocates and leaders continue to drum up the bogey of his potential to ‘distort’ political and electoral processes in the country. To the extent that the fate of the monarchy, and hence, the creation of a Republic, were left to the authority of the ‘first meeting of the Constituent Assembly’ (and rightly so, since the Interim Government and Constitution have no electoral or constitutional mandate), the rising insistence, since mid-April 2007, on an immediate declaration of a Republic in Nepal is irreconcilable with the commitments accepted by the Maoists, including the commitment to consensual resolution of issues of national interest, and to the right of the Nepali people to participate in the CA elections without fear, influence, threat or violence.

 

To understand, consequently, why the Maoists have taken the extreme steps of withdrawal from the Government, and threatened the disruption of the electoral process, it is necessary to ‘rewind’ somewhat, to the circumstances within which the opportunistic alliance with the SPA was forged.

 

At the time when King Gyanendra seized power in February 2005, the Maoists had successfully imposed an ‘ugly equilibrium’ in which Kathmandu had lost its powers to govern in vast areas virtually across the country, but where the Maoists lacked the capacity to quickly neutralize Kathmandu’s residual power. Two principal poles of power existed at this time – the Maoists, with their PLA, on the one hand; and the King and his RNA, on the other. The political parties, fractious, marginalised and discredited, were utterly irrelevant to developments in the country. With no easy victory in sight, the Maoist purpose was to disempower the King and to paralyse or undermine the RNA. This was the objective of the collaboration in the Loktantra Andolan (Democracy Movement) of April 2006, which ended King Gyanendra’s ‘direct rule’, and of the succession of agreements with the SPA.

 

The gains of this strategy have now been exhausted. The King and the monarchy have been comprehensively discredited, and no political entity could seek their restoration within the system. The Army, confined to barracks, demoralised and directionless, is less a threat to the Maoists now than was the case before the Interim Government took charge. The Maoist power, while it appears to have been diluted in the Terai, has, in fact, grown, with many parts of the country earlier outside their armed sway – including the Kathmandu Valley – having been targeted for mobilisation and recruitment over the past months. As for the Terai, the ‘weakness’ of the Maoists springs essentially from the imperatives arising out of their engagements in the ‘peace process’, and the necessity of at least appearing not to engage in organised violence – the occasional (deniable) tactical strike notwithstanding. In a situation of a return to armed conflict, however, the riffraff of Madheshi groups, which is currently at the centre of all attention, will easily be neutralised by the better organised and armed Maoist forces.

 

If this is, indeed, the Maoist calculus, the possibilities of their return to the Interim Government and their endorsement of the current electoral process are remote, and contingent upon absolute capitulation by the G.P. Koirala Government – something that has been made the more difficult by the personal denigration of the ailing Prime Minister by a number of top Maoist leaders, and a proposed signature campaign on a demand for his removal on grounds of ‘failure’.

 

Absent such an outcome, the Maoists can be expected to intensify a mass mobilisation that would seek to replicate the passions of the Loktantra Andolan in the streets, but, this time, led squarely by the Maoists, resulting in escalating disorders designed to engineer an eventual collapse of the present regime and, ideally, a transition of power to a Maoist regime or another unstable equilibrium with some political formations, more to the Maoist advantage that the present arrangement. In the absence of one of these scenarios, a return to arms would be inevitable, this time around under a weaker regime in Kathmandu, and an Army increasingly uncertain of its own role and of the country’s future. It is useful to note that several officers and personnel are currently being investigated for ‘excesses’ against the Democracy Movement, and demands for further inquiries into deaths and disappearances over the entire period of the conflict have already resulted in the drafting of a Bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to enquire into allegations of Human Rights violations by both the Army and the Maoists. Given the new legitimacy that has been conferred on the Maoists by their brief participation in the Government at Kathmandu, the Army will hesitate to take strong action against a group which may well be part of, or the entirety of, a future national government.

 

The Maoist gameplan is simple. Everything that enhances their power will be embraced; everything that undermines or constrains their influence must be destroyed. It is only the astonishing strategic blindness that afflicts the global analysis of contemporary conflicts, and the enveloping proclivity to wishful thinking, that shrouds their intentions and allows the Maoists to exploit the ambiguities of a discourse that is altogether alien to their own totalitarian ways of thinking.

News Briefs

Security situation poor ahead of polls', says parliamentary panel: A top parliamentary panel tasked to review the security situation in Nepal ahead of the November 22 elections expressed concern at the prevailing law and order situation on September 30, terming it "poor" and inadequate for the successful conduct of the democratic exercise. The interim parliament's Constituent Assembly Elections Management and Monitoring Special Committee (CAEMMSC) advised the Government to increase the deployment of Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force throughout the country as the security situation was poor in the district for the elections. The monitoring panel's report stated that politicians were afraid to conduct their political activities outside the district headquarters due to the frail security situation in the country. Stating that law and order remains the main challenge ahead of the elections, the report urged the Government to pay special attention to control cross-border criminal activities in the districts in the Terai plains bordering India. Separate parliamentary panels had recently assessed the security situation in the country. After compiling the findings of the parliamentary teams, the special House committee chaired by Speaker Subash Nemwang held a meeting on September 30 to release its report. The special parliamentary team, led by the chief whips of the ruling parties, has been monitoring the security situation in all the five regions of Nepal. www.hindu.com, September 30, 2007. Hindu, September 30, 2007.

Maoists quit government: The Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (CPN-M) quit the Government as the eight-party leaders failed to create a consensus on its demands on September 18. Four senior Maoist ministers submitted their resignation letters to the Prime Minister (PM) Girija Prasad Koirala, soon after the meeting ended in a deadlock. The PM had rejected two key demands of the Maoists: the announcement of Republic before the elections and a proportional representation election system. Addressing a mass rally, the Maoist ‘second-in-command’, Baburam Bhattarai, said, "Our efforts to declare republic from the Parliament has failed. Now we will declare republic from the streets. Therefore, we have decided to come in the midst of the people." He also rejected the code of ethics and election schedule announced by the Election Commission and said "We will struggle for the purpose of having real elections, not this hypocritical drama." Subsequently, Maoists announced a nationwide protest movement which includes a door-to-door public awareness campaign, rallies, demonstrations and strikes. The street agitations, according to Bhattarai, will be peaceful, and the People's Liberation Army will remain in cantonments. Nepal News, September 19, 2007.

Be ready for fresh revolution, Prachanda tells Maoists: The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) chairman, Prachanda, on September 8, directed party cadres to be ready for another revolution. Addressing a workshop in the Bardiya District, he said revolution was necessary as the Government had still not laid the foundation for the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections. "The CA can’t be set up under pressure. Therefore, be ready for another revolution," he stated, adding, "The Government has not laid the foundation for the CA polls. Therefore, I have directed my party to be ready for another revolution." Prachanda said that within 10 days the Maoists would try and arrive at a fresh pact with the seven political parties. Failing this, the Maoists will start their revolution from September 18. The CA polls can be held only after the Government concedes the 22-point charter of demands put forward by his party, he noted. The Himalayan Times, September 9, 2007.

Government and Madheshi Janaadhikar Forum reach a 22-point agreement: On August 30, 2007, the Government and Madheshi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF) reached a 22-point agreement and the MJF, consequently, agreed to call off a planned strike. The Government agreed to the MJF’s demand for autonomy in a federal system of governance and restructuring the state keeping the country’s sovereignty, unity and regional integrity intact. The rights, nature and limitation of the autonomous federal state would be determined by the Constituent Assembly. The Government also agreed to immediately constitute a commission on restructuring the state, to immediately provide compensation to the families of those killed during the Madhesh movement and to provide relief and medical treatment to the injured. All the cases filed against the MJF leaders and cadres would be withdrawn. The state would ensure "balanced" and "proportional representation" of marginalised communities, Madheshi, indigenous nationalities, dalits (lower caste Hindus), women, backward communities, disabled, minorities and Muslims in all state structures. The Government has also agreed to give national recognition to the Madheshi language, culture and customs. The Himalayan Times; August 31, 2007.

[Source: South Asian Intelligence Review]


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