Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Exclusive interview with Nancy powell

Exclusive interview with Nancy powell

No basis to claim better US ties with Maoists, says envoy PowellKathmandu, December 10:US Ambassador to Nepal Nancy Powell gave an exclusive interview to The Himalayan Times and discussed a wide range of issues. Excerpts:
THT: How is the US relationship with the Maoists shaping up? Is it improving as CP Gajurel claimed recently?
I am not aware of what the Maoists are referring to as a warming relationship. I have now been here for the past four months, there is very little that would inspire me to think that our relationship would get better or there was a reason for it to get better. When I arrived in August, there were five Maoist ministers and all of the parties were working towards the election in November. In the past four months, the Maoists have left their ministerial position. The Maoists got to admit the majority of the blame for the cancellation of the election with their demands and they are consistent that they could not go forward with the election.The newspapers carry listing of the various atrocities that have been committed by the Maoist group in one form or another. These happenings in the past four months certainly do not point in that direction to me. So I don’t see the foundation for what Mr Gajurel and others have described as a warming relationship until we see some progress on the other things.
THT: You appear to have taken a quieter and softer approach toward the Maoists and the King, unlike the vocal criticism practised by ambassador Moriarty.
His noting of violation of the CPA, violation of human rights were made at a time when it was very hard for Nepalis to speak out — they were perhaps fearful. His courage in speaking out was very important. Since I came in August, I have noticed that Nepalis are speaking out now, with a great deal of courage and force. I don’t want to drown out that voice with mine. I would like to continue to support the Nepalis who are speaking out. It’s not that I am not critical of violation of human rights and laws here, but I think there are voices in Nepal who are doing that and they can certainly be much more articulate than I.
THT: President Carter promised a review of US policy on the Maoists, including removal of the CPN (M) from the terrorist watch list. Is this going to happen?
President Carter did not make any comment about the terrorist list, that he did not make the recommendation that they be taken off the list. He made a recommendation that we should look at whether or not we should be meeting with them. The terrorism list is not a part of his agenda.
THT: Ambassador Moriarty said there was no space for the king, what is your position?
Ambassador Moriarty’s comments were personal. The official American position has not changed — monarchy and what is done with that institution is something for the Nepali people to decide.
THT: What are the key areas or elements that you are focusing on in Nepal’s peace process?
One element clearly is the election and the need to come to an agreement. If you are going to have an election before the beginning of the new Nepali year, you have to take a pact within the next two weeks. I am encouraging a review of the peace process.
THT: What about the integration of PLA and the Nepal Army? Should it happen?
This is a key issue in the peace process and has several dimensions. I think this is clearly a piece that has to happen. It is security sector reform, and I am talking about the police, the armed police and the army, and something that needs to be part of the new Nepal.
THT: What is the US position on electoral system, and the announcement of the republic?
Election is the number one issue in the peace process and they cannot be separated. We want to see a solution that promotes peace and democracy and stability in Nepal. The timing and methodology of the poll system and announcement of the republic is up to the Nepalis to decide.
THT: What is your assessment of the UNMIN? Do you think an expansion of their role would be appropriate?
The decision to ask the UN to come has been very helpful, particularly, when the polls go forward. They have been key to arms monitoring and the peace process. We will definitely support in the UN Security Council an extension of the mandate when that request is made formally by the government of Nepal.
THT: When will Prachanda be visiting the US — one of his greatest wishes?
As long as he is part of a terrorist organisation, individual decisions are made on visas, but it would require us to issue a waiver and I don’t think that would be forthcoming.

Nepalese Politics In The Doldrums

Nepalese Politics In The Doldrums

Three parties such as Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML), and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) are moving in a vicious circle of the Nepalese politics. These three parties represent three different forces. The NC is for preserving the monarchy, and has been making the king very active through its leaders such as Sujata Koirala, Govinda Raj Joshi and Khum Bahadur Khadka. The CPN-UML leaders say it is a moderate party. What does it means only the CPN-UML leaders know. However, it has got lost in the political confusion, as it neither follows the communist ideology nor the democratic norms. The CPN-Maoist leaders say it is the party of proletariats and fights for their rights but it has been proved that they would do whatever needed to grab the power. So, the leaders of these three major political parties have been going on in a circle to grab the power.

Speaking at a press conference held by the Kailali chapter of Nepal Press Union, NC Central Member Sujata Koirala said, "The NC adopted republic in the party policy as per the direction of the Maoists. The NC agreed whatever the Maoists suggested in the past, but now on, it will take decisions on its own. The Maoists are trying to capture power by keeping everyone in confusion; Maoist chairman Prachanda can become the president of Nepal only on the consent of the NC, but the Nepali Congress will never let this happen. In the present context, there is no alternative to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and the constituent assembly (CA) polls will be held under the premiership of Koirala. The king will still exist even if a republican order is declared from the parliament.” [1]

On Monday, December 03, 2007, the NC and the CPN-UML leaders agreed on holding the CA polls by mid April 2008. “We reached an agreement to hold the elections within this year, 2064 B.S (mid April 2008). Today's agreement between the two parties is being viewed as one of the most prominent," NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel said. “NC did not agree on the proposals of declaring the country a republic and adopt fully proportional electoral system," Standing Committee Member of CPN-UML Jhalanath Khanal said. “We asked them to declare the country republic from the parliament as republic has become a common agenda of all the parties. But they refused. Consultations on the proposal will continue," he told ‘The Rising Nepal’. [2]

On Tuesday, December 04, 2007, addressing a “National Convention On Press Freedom” held by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) in Kathmandu, CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda said that holding election without resolving issues of conflict victims and others would be meaningless. He said that his party CPN-Maoist could not go to the people and ask for votes without addressing the concerns of war victims. Chairman Prachanda also stressed on the need for activating the peace process before the election for a CA. Speaking at the same event, CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal said that the current government couldn’t hold the election given its style of functioning. However, he urged all to give the highest priority to the election. [3]

On Monday, December 03, 2007, addressing an interaction held by the United Struggle Coordination Committee, CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda said that the CA polls would be impossible until the government implemented the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by the CPN-Maoist and the Government of Nepal on November 21, 2006 ending the 10-year conflict. “It would be a gross deception, if the CPN-Maoist and its 'People's Liberation Army' (PLA) behaved as if they had surrendered to the older power," Prachanda said. “The lip service to Constituent Assembly (CA) polls would mean little if the victims of 'people's movement', disappeared people and the PLA are ignored without understanding the importance of their demands in the entire peace process," he said. [4]

Speaking at the same event, CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal reiterated that the CA polls should be held within mid-April 2008. He urged the government particularly the NC to implement the parliament’s decisions such as first setting the date for the CA polls and initiating the process for declaring Nepal a republic, and second adopting the proportional electoral system for the CA polls. General Secretary Nepal said the Nepalese people would dump those who wish to save the moribund monarchy by reviving the previous constitution. [5]

Daughter of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and NC Central Member Sujata Koirala was for reviving the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 that gave a lot of power to the king. Using its provisions suspended-King Gyanendra dismissed the elected government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba in October 2002, and killed democracy taking over the power directly in his hands on February 1, 2005. The Nepalese People’s Movement in April 2006 brought down the king. The House of Representatives reinstated by the Nepalese People’s power suspended the king until Nepal was declared a republic.

Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel assured that the NC would never stand against the republican setup. ”We should now set the date for CA polls for the republicanism," he said. He said that the republican setup would have already been established if the CA polls could have been held on November 22. “NC is against the transfer of power by inheritance," he added. [6]

However, the logically thinking Nepalis would hardly believe the statement of NC Vice-president and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel, as Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had a number of times publicly said that he was for preserving the monarchy in one form or another. His daughter Sujata Koirala has been engaged in saving the monarchy. She even said the need for reviving the Constitution of Nepal of 1990 that has the provisions for the strong monarchy.

On Monday, December 03, 2007, addressing a program held by the Joint Struggle Coordination Committee of 25 organizations for democratic federal republic and full proportional electoral system, Maoist Chairman Prachanda said that the peace process and constituent assembly election were inseparable and that the CA election could not be held without fully complying with the agreements reached in the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA). He also accused the ruling parliamentary parties of "forgetting" the spirit of the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the CPN-Maoist that has the commitment to move the peace process and political process simultaneously. "When we signed the CPA on November 21 last year, I had said we have entered a new mainstream politics. But Prime Minister GP Koirala said he brought the terrorists into a mainstream politics. His statement was the starting point of political deadlock that is yet to be resolved," Prachanda said. He also said that the peace process would not move ahead without the integration of the People's Liberation Army into the national force and democratization of the Nepali Army. He said that the CPA has stated about those issues. [7]

Addressing the same function, NC Vice-president and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel said that his party was in favor of declaring Nepal a republic but wanted to institutionalize it through a verdict of the sovereign people. On the full proportional system of election, Minister Poudel said that the ethnic communities had different understanding of the proportional representation system from the understanding of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist leaders. [8]

Speaking in the same event, CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal hoped that they would be able to reach an understanding on the issue of republic and the election system soon. He asked the NC leadership to take seriously the parliamentary directive on republic and election system. [9]

On Tuesday, December 04, 2007, addressing a function held to inaugurate the new building of the Laxmi Higher Secondary School at Dangighat in Urlabari of the Morang District, Minister for Education and Sports and CPN-UML leader Pradip Nepal said that the nation was facing embarrassment as the CPN-Maoist and the NC leaders were not in favor of holding the CA elections. He said that the CPN-UML was embarking on a nationwide federal democratic and republic campaign at a time when the nation was facing embarrassment. Minister Nepal blamed the CPN-Maoist and the NC for the disruption of the CA elections time and again. He even accused the Prime Minister of not being serious about holding the CA elections. Minister Nepal said the statement of the Prime Minister that he alone would not be the sufferer if the CA elections failed to be held had saddened the Nepalese people. He accused the CPN-Maoist of failing to acknowledge the importance of the CA elections. Minister Nepal said any party that was trying to evade the CA elections could not claim to be the party of the people. [10]

On Tuesday, December 04, 2007, addressing a two-day “National Convention On Media Freedom” held by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) in Kathmandu, CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda said that the press undoubtedly did an impressive job to reform the political outlook during the people's movement but its commercial bias has narrowed its social and moral responsibilities these days. He criticized the press for over blowing the issues linked with his party and creating unnecessary 'fear psychosis' among the general mass. He said that the media was not working responsibly as a democratic institution but was rather inclined to serve the interest of capitalist elements to make commercial gains. [11]

The NC leaders wanted to deceive the Nepalese people stating they were in favor of declaring Nepal a republic but wanted to institutionalize it through a verdict of the sovereign people. They believed that the NC could garner the majority seats in the CA if the NC-led government could hold the CA elections. Then, they could vote for saving the monarchy in the first session of the CA stating it was the people’s verdict; so, they stuck to their stance on declaring Nepal a republic in the first session of the CA; otherwise logically-thinking Nepalis did not see any reason for the NC leaders to declare Nepal a republic and then forced the CPN-Maoist to go to the CA polls immediately. Thus, they wanted to betray the people’s aspirations for making Nepal a republic and a federal state, and minimize the results of the People’s Movement in April of 2006.


[1] The Himalayan Times, December 5, 2007, “Attempt Being Made to Oust PM Koirala: Sujata”

[2] The Rising Nepal, December 4, 2007, “NC, UML agree on CA polls by mid-April”

[3] Nepalnews.com sd Dec 04 07, “Election is not a magic solution to all problems, claims Prachanda”

[4] The Rising Nepal, December 4, 2007, “Prachanda stresses pact implementation”

[5] The Rising Nepal, December 4, 2007, “Prachanda stresses pact implementation”

[6] The Rising Nepal, December 4, 2007, “Prachanda stresses pact implementation”

[7] The Himalayan Times, December 4, 2007, “Compliance with CPA Must for CA Polls: Prachanda”

[8] The Himalayan Times, December 4, 2007, “Compliance with CPA Must for CA Polls: Prachanda”

[9] The Himalayan Times, December 4, 2007, “Compliance with CPA Must for CA Polls: Prachanda”

[10] The Rising Nepal, December 5, 2007, “Maoist, NC blamed for leading nation to crisis”

[11] The Rising Nepal, December 5, 2007, “Prachanda flays press as serving capitalists”


Baton for Nepal guest

New Delhi, Dec. 10: India has decided to bestow on the visiting chief of the Nepal Army the honorary rank of general, a unique but traditional privilege that Kathmandu was unable to reciprocate for the last Indian Army chief.

General Rookmangud Katawal, Nepal’s army chief, began a seven-day tour to India today, starting with a visit to the Indian Military Academy of which he is an alumnus. The IMA is celebrating its platinum jubilee.

The Indian establishment had been worried over whether or not to confer the title on Katawal till it decided at the last minute to schedule an investiture ceremony on Wednesday in which he will be presented with a ceremonial baton.

The event highlights the unique relationship between the Indian and Nepalese armies. The tradition was broken during the tenure of General Joginder Jaswant Singh who retired in October.

For Nepal to confer the title of honorary general, the Indian Army chief is required to visit Kathmandu. Singh was the first Indian Army chief since the 1950s who did not visit Nepal after the ministry of external affairs twice shot down requests.

A visit to Nepal, till Singh’s term, was usually the first foreign tour taken by the Indian Army chief on assuming office.

Singh’s tenure also coincided with the tumult in Nepal. For much of his term, New Delhi’s Nepal policy was confused between supporting the monarchy and the democracy movement, till it resolved to back the parliamentary parties. India also suspended arms supplies to the Royal Nepal Army, whose officer cadre is almost entirely trained in Indian military institutions.

Katawal’s predecessor, General (now retired) Pyar Jung Thapa, was conferred the rank of honorary general of the Indian Army when General S. Padmanabhan was chief of army staff. Padmanabhan was also given the honour by Nepal as was his successor General Nirmal Chandra Vij.

Whether General Deepak Kapoor, who has taken over from Singh, will be going to Nepal in the short term is not yet known. One of the reasons is a perceived security threat.

During his visit, Katawal is expected to brief the Indian military top brass on the security situation in the Himalayan nation and an assessment of what the Maoists may be planning after pulling out of the government in Kathmandu.

Source: telegraphindia

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