Update on Peace Process: Today’s Political Developments

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.

Background Info:

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.

19 thoughts on “Update on Peace Process: Today’s Political Developments”

  1. I am of the view from the very beginning, from the end of April, that Koirala is the major problem in Nepal’s progress. I am still ready to attend his funeral if he takes Nepal forward by putting the monarchy back in the history. Honestly.

    About Mona’s belief on Maoists winning, I just say calm down girl. There is nothing to be worried about. Maoists will not win (they lack the capability to takeover the government). But their political demands must be taken seriously because the governmetn of Sher Bahadur Deuba took them lightly in 1996 and we experienced this bloody war for a decade.

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  2. Why are political leaders and maoist getting into the negotiation table immediately? Since both sides howl like dogs that they want long lasting peace. It is conforming to the saying that “Barking dogs seldom bite”.

    Nepali and Nepalese have already suffered a lot and we cannot wait any longer for peace.
    Why can’t political parties go according to the aspiration of people, when it was due to effort of Nepali people not the netas as usual “bhasan”.
    Especially if they can come to a agreement in hurry (i mean within days that also in foreign land) when they were cornered by the king, why can’t they come to negitiating table when they are in power and back in the home land?

    Well I have been saying that these are the same netas who let the country down ten years ago and seems they are heading the same way. Primary concern is getting maoist to negitiating table, not to fight on the fact that SPA’s members are not in the power.

    Beware Nepali people about the intention of political parties and the maoist. There is Thai coup this month, don’t want to see Nepali coup next month on the news.

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  3. The fundamental objective of this talk is to pave the way for the constituent assembly elections.

    The constituent assembly elections are must to write the new constitution of the country that can establish the institutions of ‘Complete Democracy’.

    What is ‘Complete Democracy’ as per the mandate of people’s movements will be a big question for the elected constitution assembly members to define in the constitution with its provisions and logistics.

    The word ‘Democracy’ can be manipulated hundred of ways for example, one party democracy, multi-party democracy, totalitarian democracy, Panchayete democracy, Islamic democracy and so on.

    But Democracy in Nepal will all depend on how far the major political parties who claim to represent democracy have understood the norm and principle of democracy that can only be sustain with its electoral process by the popular votes of the people of Nepal.

    Such constitution must gaurantee the Civil Liberty of people, right to vote and the basic human rights protection as per the Universal declaration of the Human Rights.

    Any party who wins the tussle at this point and time is temporary. To acheive a long term win win political victory for all parties is to establish the institution of the ‘Complete Democracy’ that can never be dismantled by any dictatoria or tyrannical force.

    This is our golden chance to sow the seeds of Democracy as national culture to unite all Nepali people from different walks of life, ethnicity, caste and creed.

    Report seems to be very authentic and appreciative for blog critiques to refine their perceptions of ‘Complete Democracy’ which I call it ‘Complete Electoral Democracy’.

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  4. I am 100 percent agree with Lauka. Girija is the main cause for all the problem in Nepal. He never reads news paper. He has no capacity to analyse the sutuation. He never took holidays while he become priminister. He is worried about his daughter. I always fear with Girija’s intention. Nearer people of Girija says that if he couldn’t manage his daughter in a better position in congress politics he will get mad and will handover the democracy to palace. This is very serious at the moment. I don’t worry with Maoists. They just cannot rule over the people. We also know how to throw them from their position. And in Nepal one cannot rule until there are civil society and aware population. Lets be aware from the political parties and people who afraids to believe in capacity of Nepali people.

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  5. I may be wrong but I have also heard that this postponement is not entirely the doing of the SPA, I heard that a senior member of the maoist party who was incharge of the Kathmandu political wing died I hear of liver failure (apparently a heavy drinker), therefore the maoists also wanted a day to mourn the comrade.

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  6. Rescheduling is not an issue here- there is dearth of real commitments to the nation from the both sides. The bartering that is taking place is nothing but a point to be scored in order for Maoist to secure more advantage and for SPA to remain relevant. Don’t even think this talk has any nation’s interest in the table. Its a deck of card, shuffling to see who gets the triple ace. Welcome to juwa at the expense of a nation, cheer on all you Socrates.

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  7. Mr. Bom,

    The point is not what complete democracy is but what democracy is. Complete democracy is like saying “new horlicks”, that is, only the packaging is changed. It does not matter whether we have a new constitution or not. The main issue is, whether we will have new leaders. New constitution will not miraclously change our corrupt and incompetent leaders into angels.

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  8. Mr. Prakash, wondering me that citizen of the country have been terrorized, mudured, kidnappes and extorsion etc by the maoist terrorist those few of the event reported in online news which I think, you have daily been that you would probablylog familiar with those newsite, it is unthinkable to you who lives in USA what we ordinary people are going throgh day by day at villages by maoist terrorsit atrocities, now you are talking about complete democracy? by guns and bullets, do you think with this situation you can draw road map of complete democracy.
    First terrorsit must lay down thier bullets and gun, and stop to terrorizing to ordinary people. Finally come CA election, then we think complete democracy. Do not make such baseless comments.

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  9. Pundit

    You can not blame Prakash Bom. People who live in or reach America think them superperson who knows every thing and has solution to every problem. Start from Dr.Bhekh Bahadur Thapa and Dr.Devendra Raj Pande from the thirties to Angaraj Timilsina or Dinesh Wagle himself(consider his introduction of Manisha Thapa to Prakash Bom and other AR(America Returned or Resident) in this blog). King Birendra had that mania then and DW is victim of it here. Though what PB suggesterd was a ditto of American system which should have very impressed him, it can be a book of reminder reference to our counstitution makers. So we can thank him for that. That much.

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  10. It is my personal impression that there would be no elections to CA in Nepal. Till today, there is no any steps towards that, how we can believe that there would be any elections. GPK wants to delay the process so that Maoists will be badly exposed.And they will fade away. Nobody believes in Maoists except theives, looters and killers.Actually there is no ideology like Maoists in the present day world. Today’s on ly mantra is economic development. Maoists problem also be solved with the gradual economic development.

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  11. Wagle and the UWB team,

    A Happy Bijaya Dashami and Tihar to you all!

    And of course to all the bloggers (if it is your thing) – the same to you as well and a Happy Ramadan to our muslim friends!

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  12. A thought for new hope on this festive time:

    Fight no more my friends,
    Fight no more,
    Lest it make enemies of brothers,
    And murderers of friends,
    Fight no more one and all,
    Stop before our children feel nothing to do so.

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  13. Thanks Lauka

    But it seems strange that you say to calm down in this tough situation when things have become so detoriable in this last few months.

    Simply you cannot have naive confidence in yourself that Maoist cannot rule over the people.You people know this fact better than me.

    I am not so expert in analysing the political situation. But i think.. If maoist come to power, hamro desh khattam hunccha.
    That is why i was saying they are at the winning edge and that we have to drag them out.Katai hamro pyaro desh maobadi ko sikar nahos!

    Just to give you a flavour, there is a disease condition called “Progressive bacterial synergistic gangrene”.Here are its characteristics. Now you people relate this infective condition of human body with that of our home country.
    Yes, i am positivistic and i see the glimmer of hope tara kunai din maobadile desh khayera yasto awastha pani nahola bhanera bhanna sakidaina.

    1 a CHRONIC gangrenous condition
    2 most often encountered as a post-operative COMPLICATION
    3 leads to EVISCERATION (extrusion of the internal organs of the body system).
    4 typically a MIXED infection (caused by more than one bacterial entery).
    5 No sign in superficial level but DEEPER infection inside
    6 causing necrosis( death of the cell).

    Lastly i remind the only likely (not proven) remedy for progressive bacterial synergistic gangrene is oxygen therapy.

    Koirala afoo pani oxygen mask lagayera basscha, desh lai pani oxygen mask jhundai dinchha.
    So Beware

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  14. Bottom line,
    Maoist must give up arms and there must be UN presence for the election to be fair. Without maoist giving up arms, extortion, donation, and other activities cannot stop.

    So give up arms, go for election get elected from Nepali junta fair and square rather just lingering, if maoist are really commited to peace process.

    How can there be peace with weapons around? Its like trying to get the two sides of coin as one side which is not possible.

    Netas and moabadi’s get into your gidi that with weapons there cannot be any fair and square elections.

    May Durga mata give some knowledge to these f**kers in this Dashain.

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  15. I agree with allot of what has been said, To save monarchy is crazy, What is the point in being a democracy, and having elections, and spending money on these, and allowing every person to vote, if one person has the birth right to interfere, especially is he has shown absolutely that his ideals oppose democracy. It is essential for Nepal, that it becomes a republic, as the king has shown he is a stumbling block, to what democracy is all about. To have him in the system would be like building a boat, and then saying there must always bea plug in the bottom of the boat, in case a randomly selected fool wants to sink it. With him having any role no matter how seemingly powerless, he is the randomly selected fool. As if he has a role, then he has a destructive role. To have somebody who opposes the principle of democarcy as head of state, in a state who constitution is supposed to be about democarcy is as needless a luxery as his palaces, and high wages.

    Democracy will always be unstable, and always be at risk with this rich powerful, ruthless murderous figure having any role. And that sort of democracy is not as good as a stable democracy. We need a united democracy, where the system supports the constitution, and ideals of the nations as otherwise, the anti democarts will always be there to defeat us.

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  16. Sunday, October 01, 2006
    What’s Got the Maoists on Edge?

    When jackals “roar” like lions, something is wrong. When Nepal’s Maoists start screaming “conspiracy,” something is right – that is, for everyone who rejects the idea that “power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

    Lately, the salvo of rhetoric coming from “King Prachanda” and “Queen Baburam” has subsided into inconsequential ramblings and at times, even laughable rants. Contravening the unrealistically optimistic outcome that Maoist leaders paint for their cadre, they seem increasingly aware that their days of hiding behind an anti-autocratic vanguard are quickly fading.

    The Parties, the people, the international community and even segments of civil society appear to have had the same epiphany: That the void created by the king’s abrupt removal from politics cannot be filled by an outfit, determined to qualify its rise to power through manipulation, coercion and the widespread application of gratuitous violence. Although belated, this realization is better late, than never.

    Every step that disassociates the palace from politics, is a step that erodes the utility of the Maoists for India and centrist Nepali Parties. The Maoists know this, the Parties know this, India knows this and most important of all, the Nepali population that the Maoists supposedly govern, know this.

    Dictatorial expediency vs. democratic latency

    The SPA Government is weak and fragmented. The very values that the SPA’s constituents champion – pluralism, democracy, transparency – are what incapacitate the SPA. Playing politics by adopting the high ground does not draw short term adulation or praise. In Nepal, the handful of politicians who adhere to sustainable long term visions draw venom not only from the Maoists, but from fellow leftists within the SPA coalition.

    To begin with, the mainstream Parties are no match for the dictatorial efficiency of the one-man, one leader, one party, Maoist machine. Dissent amongst the SPA’s constituents cannot be squashed like the purging of Pushpa Dahal’s opponents (within the Maoits).

    To put this point in perspective, no one hears of the Maoists who questioned the swelling in Baburam and Pushpa’s personal wealth or the fact that Maoist leaders sent their children to some of the best schools in the world (including the London School of Economics and JNU). Even the buzz about Baburam and his wife’s temporary suspension from their leadership positions (for allegedly speaking against Pushpa Dahal), was quickly sidelined. The details of neither incident were disclosed for public consumption. Internal Maoist affairs, yes. Democratic transparency? Forget about it.

    So naturally, the SPA is unable to perform at par with their expeditious adversaries and the Maoists know it. In fact, Maoist Spokesmen lead the charge in exploiting the alleged lack of efficiency which in reality, is a natural limitation of any democratic process. (Decisions simply do not foment overnight in democratic polities, the way they do in the Maoists’ world).

    The most recent example of this type of exploitation is Baburam’s claim that “they (the SPA) don’t want any progressive change. The government is dilly-dallying to continue in power.” In addition to the timing of Baburam’s rage, the content of his delivery is very telling.

    Such a callous outburst from the Maoist number two shows disregard for his political adversaries. It also demonstrates how little the Maoists truly understand about democratic decision-making and the idea of due process. For Baburam, the government’s decision to postpone peace talks is “dilly-dallying.” For everyone else who appreciates that talks for the sake of having them are meaningless, the SPA’s decision is justified.

    In spite of all the coaching Baburam has received from his thesis advisor (SD Muni) and his Indian political allay (Sitaram Yechuri), he seems to have missed the point – revolutionary “quality control” measures that have propelled the Indian economy have not yet permeated into the Indian political sphere.

    So, with each passing day, the fissures within the “made in India” SPA-M alliance are widening and are becoming more transparent. For the time being, the SPA portion of this eclectic amalgamation is holding, but only because of two exogenous factors: the intrepid and impervious characteristics of a handful of non-traditional Nepali politicians and the constant moral guidance provided by the international community.

    The movers and shakers behind the scenes

    The few unrelenting champions of the moral high ground come from different political parties and represent divergent viewpoints. They have different academic backgrounds and originate from varying personal settings. These distinctions in mind, there is one attribute that these leaders have in common – a shared conviction to not allow the Maoists to intimidate and cheat Nepal out of her rightful position as a success story of democratic innovation, self-determination and a model nation-state of exemplary resilience.

    Fighting onslaughts on three fronts – the Maoists, their supporters within the SPA and a radical portion of Nepal’s civil society – this handful of leaders, soldier on with demonstrable dedication to Nepal’s future as a liberal democratic nation state. This minority (consisting of candidates within and outside of the SPA) are doing the right thing – they are risking their own political platforms by placing the greater good ahead of personal benefit. They are taking a stand that says they will fight tyranny and injustice regardless of where it comes from.

    These leaders understand that divided, they will never be able to face the Maoist onslaught. They comprehend the Maoist game plan well and understand that continuing to ostracize the national military serves the Maoist agenda. Instead, these leaders are engaging the military, thus accelerating the army’s rate of democratization.

    These leaders are forcing the issue on non-negotiable matters such as the complete and irreversible disarmament of Maoist forces (fighters and milita), prior to constituent assembly elections. Without attracting undue attention to themselves (by voluntarily appearing in the media limelight), these leaders are driving the agenda, the democratic way. By way of example, these leaders are grooming successors within their respective parties while ensuring that the impetuous, impulsive and power-hungry are kept at bay.

    These leaders are truly a minority in Nepali politics and they know who they are. Instead of delving into the details of these individuals’ identities, let’s start simply by identifying individuals who do not belong to this elite group of visionaries – This group does not include the current Prime Minister and most definitely not the Home Minister.

    Why the Maoist leadership is in a hurry

    With each passing day, the messages put out by this minority group of politicians is gaining momentum. What each is doing individually, is fundamentally restructuring the manner in which Nepali politicians have conducted themselves, since the 1990 movement. With this restructuring, comes the evolutionary transformations in polity that Nepal so badly needs.

    With every gain that these noteworthy politicians make, the Maoist politics of hate driven violence becomes less and less appealing. Not only does the rift get wider between the Maoists and liberal democratic / centrists forces, the rift within the Maoists widens as well.

    Questions over the practical application of the Maoists’ idea of egalitarian equality will most certainly surface. It is unlikely that a Maoist who was abducted at 12, completely indoctrinated by 16 and has been roaming the countryside since, has any aspirations of educating his/her offspring in London or New Delhi.

    However, when these Maoists (those who have been doing the grunt work) wake up to such startling disparities within their organization’s manifesto (and they eventually will), they will be demanding a lot more from their leaders than monetary reparations for years of their lives spent, chasing after a lie. These cadres will be demanding justice the way they have been taught their whole lives. Not a happy ending for the Maoist leadership.

    Thus, the Maoists’ drive to get things done fast and move into cozy government positions before their cadres’ awareness exceeds the Maoist leaders’ capacity to deliver. Baburam and Prachanda’s insistence on delivering fiery speeches with dreams of grandeur and a red eclipse of South Asia are not only foolish, such acts are completely antithetical to the notion of a negotiated political solution and to peace for Nepal.

    Some view the increasing risk the Maoist leaders invite on themselves, as reasons for why the leadership should be given a softer landing than they deserve. An important distinction here is that the issue of soft landing pertains specifically to the Maoist leadership, not the cadre-base.

    If within a week, the Nepalese government found alternative and financially commensurate employment for the hardcore Maoist fighters, what’s to prevent these fighters from choosing amnesty and way of life that does not involve killing or the risk of being killed, every day? Is there any rational reason why a disarmed Maoist cadre-base could not be absorbed into a left leaning, albeit democratically committed party like the UML? In either scenario, it’s the Maoist leadership that would lose out, they know it and they’ll do everything they can to prevent such an outcome.

    Others, who think logically, disagree with the notion of unjustified leniency for the Maoist leadership, primarily on grounds of principle. In the minds of these individuals, the Maoist leadership deserves no compassion for first, stunting Nepal’s progress toward a liberal democratic state and second, for refusing to moderate its rhetoric to conform to peaceful, democratic politics. With the passage of time and the continuation of unhelpful rhetoric, the numbers in the camp who choose to see through the Maoist leadership’s deception, will most certainly rise.

    As the government-military relationship cements further and the true leaders in Nepal’s political sphere emerge victorious (over the debacle that is the collective SPA leadership), the Maoist leadership’s message will lose ground. As the international community continues to advise and buttress the efforts of Nepal’s few visionaries, the forceful attitudes of the Maoist leadership will continue to be resisted. And as the law and order situation is gradually brought back under the state’s purview, the Maoists’ tactics of fear and coercion will backfire.

    The sum of all Maoist fears

    The elements of contemporary politics presented above are all reasons as to why the Maoist leaders are on edge. And these are the same reasons why the Maoist strategy today, is directed at paralyzing the Nepalese economy through street protests, at diminishing the army’s morale, at driving faulty wedges between the army and the SPA government and at selectively criticizing “foreign interference.”

    In fact, after realizing that UN involvement in Nepal actually implies the application of consistent standards to all groups (including the Maoists), it appears the Maoist appetite to cheer on the UN has suddenly (and not so mysteriously), diminished. Maneuvering as a rebel outfit, in opposition, was perhaps a luxury the Maoist leaders had significantly underappreciated.

    Finally, if curiosity has got the better of you and you’re desperate to learn who the super star politicians implicated in this piece are, just read the news while asking the following question – Who are the Maoists and their supporters in parliament criticizing? The answers will most definitely address your curiosity and as the peace process becomes more structured, the answers will become increasingly obvious.

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