Instead of joining the mainstream the Maoists intend to define the mainstream.
By Neil Horning (Updates on Peace Process- inside)
A Maoist guerilla plays with children in a village in Myagdi. Pic by Neil Horning
About a year ago, while trekking in Nepal I took a photo of the distant Annapurna mountains framing a precariously perched, tin-roofed shack, scrawled on the side in bright blue English read, “Political power flows out of the barrel of a gun. -Mao Tse Tung.”
A year later, the graphite is reality.
The recent “April Uprising” has been lauded by the international community as a triumph for democracy and “people power.” The 19 day strike and protest program defied all conventional expectations and forced the increasingly dictatorial king Gyanendra to give up nearly all of his power. Most likely, the rest of it will be striped away as a result of Constituent Assembly elections in the weeks and months to come.
Elections to a constituent assembly with the authority to draft a new constitution are the basis of a Twelve point agreement the ruling Seven Party Alliance (SPA) reached with the Maoists in order to form a joint struggle against the king. At this point the SPA-Maoist alliance was offering a way out and peace, and all the palace had to offer was war and dictatorship. The demand for CA was so popular that after the reinstatement of Parliament, protests continued outside to make sure it would be implemented quickly. These elections have even been hailed by the U.S. state department as an acceptable way to bring the Maoists into the main stream.
But, according to Maoist ideology joining the mainstream is considered revisionism. Revisionism is a huge No-No. In what has become my favorite Maoist quote, Prachanda said in a 1999 interview: “My main thrust is that I hate revisionism. I seriously hate revisionism. And I never compromise with revisionism. I fought and fought again with revisionism. And the party’s correct line is based on the process of fighting revisionism. I hate revisionism. I seriously hate revisionism.”
Prachanda clearly hates revisionism. So, how can the Maoists reconcile their ideology with a compromise that has them joining the mainstream. Simple, it isn’t a compromise, and they aren’t joining the mainstream.
The constituent assembly has been the consistent minimum demand of the Maoists since they first agreed to talks in 2001. Their initial proposal was dismissed with the disingenuous counter proposal that they disarm (read: surrender) in order to continue talks. The only thing that has changed in the Maoist position since then is that it has grown significantly stronger. While before they held 2/3 of the country now they control 80%. Where before they had a combination of flint lock and World War II era rifles, now they have modern assault rifles, and where before they used to strike the army and run, now they can stand and fight. A state, according to Max Weber is nothing but a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. by challenging the monarchies monopoly on force, and providing space for their own political work, the Maoists have achieved a political power so substantial that they no longer need force to take the capital. Instead of joining the mainstream the Maoists intend to define the mainstream.
The Parliament is going to need to acknowledge this reality rather quickly. The Maoists are not going to give up their arms before they are included in the government, and when they do give up their arms it will be because their army has been incorporated into the state. Calls for the Maoists to give up their arms in order to “join the mainstream” both from domestic sources and abroad are the height of disingenuousness. All parties making these claims have had no ideological conflicts in the past using violence to achieve their own political aims. Many parties in the SPA have their roots in a violent struggle against the Ranas and Mahendra. These efforts were supported by India. The Dali Lama himself helped channel funds from the United States CIA in order to wage a Guerrilla war out of Mustang District.
The call of the hour is a timely and fair path for the Nepalese people to decide their own future without intimidation or coercion from either side. This is what the Maoists have offered in order to avoid a violent takeover of the capitol. It would be best for Nepal’s democratic forces to remember that is what the alternative is. While it is imperative that both sides agree on how to manage arms during the election, attempts to extend the sovereignty of the Parliament such as returning local Village Development Committiee (VDC) representatives and other political games designed to influence the outcome of the constituent assembly will do nothing but delay the inevitable at best, and restart the bloodshed at worst.
Neil Horning is an American currently living in Nepal. He interviewed the District commander of Myagdi and other Maoists in June of 2005 and holds a BA in International Relations from San Francisco State University.
Peace Talks Round Two: Govt, rebels reach 4-point agreement
By Gaurav Tiwari in eKantipur
KATHMANDU, June 15 – The second round of government-Maoist talks concluded in Lalitpur on Thursday with a four-point agreement between the two sides.
After the talks which started at around 2 pm at Hotel Himalaya in Kupondole, the government and the Maoist rebels agreed to hold summit talks between PM Koirala and Maoist Chairman Prachanda; form a truce monitoring team (Ceasefire Code of Conduct National Monitoring Committee); request the UN to assist the truce monitoring team and to monitor human rights; and to hold further talks under observers.
Addressing the media after the talks, Home Minister and the coordinator of the government talks team, Krishna Prasad Sitaula said that the talks have advanced positively. “Both the government and the Maoist talks teams have decided to hold summit talks between the PM and Maoist Chairman in presence of the leaders of the Seven Party Alliance as soon as possible,” Sitaula said. Home Minister Sitaula also said that a 31-member Ceasefire Code of Conduct National Monitoring Committee headed by civil society leader Dr. Devendra Raj Pandey has been formed. The Committee will monitor the implementation of the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists in November last year, and the 25-point Ceasefire Code of Conduct signed between the government and the Maoists during the first round of talks held on May 26 this year.
The members of the Committee are Dr. Arjun Karki, Dr. Om Gurung, Prof. Kapil Shrestha, Dr. K.B. Rokaya, Keshav Bhattarai, Krishna Pahadi, Gauri Pradhan, Chandi Raj Dhakal, Charan Prasain, Taranath Dahal, Nilambar Acharya, Padma Lal B.K., Prof. Dr. Bhupati Dhakal, Malla K. Sundar and Dr. Mahesh Maskey. Similarly, other members of the Committee are Madhav Banskota, Raman Shrestha, Dr. Ramman Shrestha, Wangchhe Sherpa, Bishnu Nisthuri, Dr. Birendra Mishra, Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, Shanta Shrestha, Shyam Shrestha, Shiva Gaunle, Sushil Pyakurel, Er. Saroj Devkota, Sudha Sharma, Subodh Pyakurel and Sushil Chandra Amatya.
“We have also decided to request the Nepal-based United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Nepal) to assist the truce monitoring committee and to monitor human rights,” Sitaula added. Likewise, Sitaula also said any further government-Maoist talks will be held under the observation of civil society leaders Laxman Prasad Aryal, Padmaratna Tuladhar, Dr Devendra Raj Pandey, Damannath Dhungana and Dr Mathura Prasad Shrestha.
Talking to journalists, Sitaula also expressed his view that the success of the talks was essential for sustained peace and prosperity in the country. “The summit talks will be held sooner than expected,” coordinator of the Maoist talks team Krishna Bahadur Mahara told reporters further calling for all the citizens to contribute to make the government-Maoist talks a success. “While we are approaching the historic Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, we are not going to hinder the process by focusing only on our party’s agenda,” Maoist spokesperson Mahara said, expressing the Maoists’ approach towards the talks and the country’s future.
Mahara also said that his party was against PM Koirala’s stand for a ceremonial king but “would let the people decide in the CA.” Earlier, in the first round of peace talks held on May 26 in Gokarna Resort, the two sides had announced a 25-point Code of Conduct governing the cease-fire announcement so as to ensure a violence-free environment. They had also agreed to invite credible national and international monitoring teams to oversee the ceasefire and compliance to the Code of Conduct.
PM, Prachanda to meet today
Second round of talks forms ceasefire monitoring committee, diologue observation team, and decides to request OHCHR to assist monitoring
BY BIKASH SANGRAULA in the Kathmandu Post
LALITPUR, June 15 – Following the second round of talks between the government and the Maoists Thursday, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist Supremo Prachanda will hold “supreme talks” on Friday. At the second round of talks led by Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Krishna Bahadur Mahara at Hotel Himalaya at Kupondole Thursday a four-point agreement was signed. The agreements include conducting talks “very soon between the Nepal government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) with the participation of top leaders from the seven political parties and the CPN (Maoist)”. (continue reading)