Update: Thursday, Sept 28: The much-awaited “summit talks” between the top leaders of the ruling seven-party alliance (SPA) and Maoists, earlier said to be held today but postponed for tomorrow (Friday), has been put off until the conclusion of the Dashain festival. (Here is more.)
Based on a report by Balaram Baniya and Ujjir Magar
Written by Wagle
After it was announced today that the high-level talks between the ruling Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists have been rescheduled by as much as 24 hours for Friday, the question many wanted to raise was: Will the Alliance be able to come up with concrete agreement to face the rebels on the talks table? If so, no problem, take another week, why just a day. Forest minister Gopal Rai’s state funeral to be held tomorrow is being cited as the reason for this deferment though there are very few reasons to be hopeful about SPA coming in one voice regarding the most crucial issue: the monarchy. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is hell bent on giving space to monarchy, that is, saving the institution that the popular and historic April uprising clearly wanted to be abolished.
Today’s central committee meeting of Nepali Congress party, of which Prime Minister Koirala is the all-powerful president, discussed on its possible stand on interim constitution, formation of interim parliament and interim government, and to which extent the government and the party can be flexible in the talks with the Maoists. In the informal meeting that took place in the residence of the Prime Minister in Baluwataar, Koirala directed Home Minister and chief government negotiator and Shekhar Koirala, a central committee member of Nepali Congress, to talk to the Maoists and prepare for the high level talks. Both Sitalula and Shekhar met Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, one of the top Maoist leaders and Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the chief Maoist negotiator, this afternoon and talked about They talked about reaching agreement on political package (interim constitution, interim parliament and interim government) along with arms management.
According to a source that didn’t want to be named, both sides gave thoughts on managing armies of both sides in three steps: First, both armies will be confined on barracks, second, verification and separation of Maoists armies from weapons and, third, integration of Maoist armies into Nepali Army, Nepal Police and Development Army. Both sides have already agreed on the first point where as the latter two points are yet to be agreed upon. The government side believes, according to a source, that once both sides agree on the third point, second would be agreed upon easily. Once there is agreement on arms management, the source said, political issues would be solved. The Maoists in today’s meeting asked for the proposal on the management of armies from the government. The prime minister has given the responsibility of preparing such proposal to home minister Sitaula and Nepali Congress General Secretary Ram Chandra Poudel. Both Situala and Poudel have started preparations and, according to source, they will prepare the proposal after the consultation with government and seven parties.
In the informal talks, both Maoists and the government have reached near to agreeing on how many seats to be allocated for the parties and the Maoists in the interim constitution. The source has claimed that the Maoists have loosen their stand on the number by which they should be represented in the interim parliament. The rebels are insisting that they must get one third seats. Both sides couldn’t agree on the king’s position in the interim constitution and how to decide on the future of monarchy. Nepali Congress is firm on its rhetoric that the monarchy must be given ceremonial role as per the declaration of parliament and the future of monarchy should be decided by the Constituent Assembly. Maoists have been insisting that the king should be suspended in the interim constitution and the future of monarchy should be decided via the referendum.
Meanwhile, Mahara, the chief Maoist negotiator has blamed that the government wasn’t serious enough in holding talks in time where as Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel emphasized that the Maoists were not respecting earlier agreements and delaying the implementation. And the CPN UML, second largest party in the ruling SPA, has said that high level talks must come up with a single voice regarding interim constitution.
1. A meeting of top leaders of Seven Party Alliance (SPA) had decided to hold high level talks with the rebels on Thursday (tomorrow).
2. The government negotiation team held talks with Prime Minister Koirala on Tuesday (Sept. 27). The cabinet briefly discussed on the government’s stands to be put forward in talks with the rebels.
3. A Maoist leader Dinanath Sharma said that Thursday’s meeting was uncertain as “SPA hasn’t reached on consensus” on several issues.