Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nepal Maoists could derail peace process

Nepal’s internal matter: Pranab
Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: India has adopted a hands-off policy relating to developments in Nepal where Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) has quit the interim government over rejection of their demand for abolition of monarchy.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday described the developments as “internal issues of Nepal to be resolved by Nepal itself.”

Transition

He expressed the hope that all concerned would implement previous understandings that underpin Nepal’s peaceful transition and that differences would be resolved democratically.

The Union Home Ministry has asked all the five States bordering Nepal and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) which guards the India-Nepal border to take all preventive steps and remain alert in view of the political developments in the Himalayan nation.
Nepal Maoists could derail peace process: analysts

18 hours ago

KATHMANDU (AFP) — A dramatic move by Nepal's Maoists to storm out of the government and take their campaign to oust the Himalayan monarchy to the streets could derail the impoverished country's peace process, analysts have warned.

Although Nepal is in no immediate danger of being plunged back into all-out civil war, observers are warning that the former rebels' move could paralyse Nepal by killing off the chance of crucial elections being held in November.

"Their strong faith in absolute communism is threatening the constituent assembly elections, and it also looks like they plan to boycott the polls," said politics professor and analyst Krishna Khanal.

Under a peace accord signed 10 months ago, the future of the unpopular King Gyanendra and the 238-year-old monarchy as a whole was to have been decided after the elections for a body that would rewrite the constitution.

But the Maoists have jumped the gun, and after failing to convince their coalition partners to ditch the monarchy right away have now threatened a campaign of strikes, protests and general disruption.

"We will violate the election commission's code of conduct and disrupt all their plans for elections in November," Maoist number two Baburam Bhattarai told a public rally on Tuesday.

Khanal said the Maoists appeared to be in a "destructive" mood - a sign of their difficulties in transforming themselves from jungle insurgents into mainstream officials willing to accept compromise as part and parcel of political life.

"The Maoists have made a strong contribution to make the constituent assembly elections possible, but it now seems that they are destroying their own achievements," he said.

Ex-rebel commanders had been extremely critical of the Maoist ministers in the government, accusing them of swanning around in limousines and forgetting their duties to the people.

Even after the peace deal ended a civil war that claimed some 13,000 lives, the Maoists continue to be accused of beatings, kidnappings and extortion. They also still feature on the United States' terror list.
Tribhuvan University political science professor Lak Raj Baral called the Maoists' latest move "a very unfortunate political development" that "will encourage regressive forces to bounce back."
"The Maoists have realised that their power is diminishing and they are under tremendous pressure from their military cadres," Baral said, alluding to the widely-held view that they may not fare so well in democratic elections.

But Kunda Dixit, editor of the weekly Nepali Times, struck a more optimistic note -- highlighting the difficulties Nepalis were having in digesting and interpreting the Maoists' resignation from the government.

The Maoists "have stressed again and again it's going to be peaceful street agitation -- they are not going back to the jungle to fight," he said, underlining that the ceasefire was still intact.
"This is just a way for them to start their election campaign with a bang, they feel it will be easier in opposition to blame everything on the government," Dixit said.

The Maoists may be posturing, he said, as "it is a foregone conclusion that Nepal will dump the monarchy, the question just is when, so their slogan has been diluted -- they are just trying to show now that they are different."

The coalition government has already stripped Gyanendra, who now lives as a virtual recluse in the palace, of all political power and control of the army.

Gyanendra was vaulted to the throne in 2001 after an apparently drink-and-drug fuelled Crown Prince Dipendra killed most of his family, including the former king, and then himself.

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