Plus: American ambassador returns from New Delhi trip
So the news of the day is pretty much surprising. Not so surprising perhaps. Prachanda, the leader of the Maoist ‘revolution’ in Nepal, went to see the Indian ambassador in Lainchaur. Reactions given to media by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, second in command after Prachanda, are also interesting. According to Dr. Bhattarai, the ambassador told the Maoist leaders: ‘[The peace process] is your internal matter. We have nothing to say except that we are always eager to help” Nepal in its bid to establish peace in society. Ha, ha. It’s actually waste of words to talk about the Indian intervention in Nepali politics. We all know where Prachanda operated his movement against feudal force of Nepal. And here Dr. Bhattarai claims that Indian ambassador feels whatever happening in Npela is ‘it’s interal matter.’
A few months ago Dr. Baburam Bhattarai had met the Indian envoy. Some observers in Kathmandu were a bit surprised about how Prachanda maintained protocol! Yes, that’s not an important issue but it would have been better, same folks believe, if the meeting was held in location other than the Indian embassy itself. We have seen ambassadors, most recently James F Moriarty of America, visiting CPN UML General Secretary in the Balkhu headquarters of UML. Talking about Moriarity, the American envoy returned to Kathmandu today visiting New Delhi and, news reports say, discussing Nepal peace process with Indian leadership. There are no details of this visit but it has already been publicized that both India and the US want Maoists to be ‘disarmed’ before the rebels join an interim government that will hold the election of Constituent Assembly.
Just in case if you have forgotten, Maoists are still ‘terrorists’ for the Indian government and it will be interesting to see how India will react, officially that is, when Prachanda goes New Delhi to address Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in November. Leave that for future. What happened in today’s darshan bhet (audience)? We are not told what the Maoists duo ‘briefed’ the Indian ambassador today but we know about the assurance they got from Shiv Shankar Mukharjee: Maoist leader CP Gajurel ‘Gaurav’, who is in a jail in Chennai, southern India, will be released soon.
Update (Nov 5) Maoist Chairman Prachanda today hinted that his party has reached an agreement with the government on the modality of arms management. According to Prachanda, the agreement is that the Maoist arms will be kept and locked in (at a place decided by the Maoists) with a UN seal and keys under Maoist control. Touching the lock would set an alarm bell in the UN office, Lalitpur. Same amount of arms of the government army under the same system. After revealing this info to reporter in Pokhara this afternoon, Prachanda flew to Kathmandu to meet Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in Baluwataar where UN special envoy Ian Martin already inside. Prime Minister Koirala hasn’t confirmed what Prachanda told reporters but a high level meeting is scheduled for 4 PM Monday (Nov. 6). Prachanda also said that the issue of monarchy will be decided in the Constituent Assembly.
Arms Management Formula
1. All of the rebels’ weapons will be stored and locked up in the respective cantonments where the combatants are cantoned before the Maoists join the interim government.
2. The Maoist leadership will keep the keys to the stores.
3. The UN will install fixed cameras to monitor the storage and will have the right to make inspections whenever it desires.
By Ameet Dhakal
KATHMANDU, Oct 31 – The government and the Maoists have made a breakthrough on the issue of arms management. “A breakthrough acceptable to the government, the Maoists and also the international community has been reached,” said a leader involved in the negotiations. According to the understanding, all of the rebels’ weapons will be stored and locked up in the respective cantonments where the combatants are cantoned, before the Maoists join the interim government. The Maoist leadership will keep the keys to the stores. But the UN will install fixed cameras to monitor the storage and will have the right to make inspections whenever it desires.
But Emale playing villain?
Meanwhile, Balaram Baniya and Rajendra Phuyal report in Kantipur newspaper that the CPN UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal has put forward three different stands regarding three most important issues (citizenship, referendum and CA election) in his meeting with Prime Minister Koirala yesterday. Nepali Congress, the newspaper writes, has expressed concerns over latest UML stands alleging the second largest party in the governing alliance of trying to create problem in the peace process. UML’s stands come at a time when all parties have almost reached consensus on major issues. UML stands are following:
1. The voting list of the referendum of 2037 BS should be the basis of distributing citizenship. [A bill with the provision of providing citizenship to all people born before or in 2046 is under consideration in the parliament. Earlier, UML agreed on the bill. When the cabinet passed the bill, no UML ministers raised voice against that.]
2. A referendum must be held to decide the fate of monarchy. [The summit talks on Bhadra 24 had decided that the first meeting of the CA would decide the fate of monarchy: to continue it or not. Nepali Congres is strictly against the referendum arguing that going for voting will give opportunity for the king to play the game. Even Maoists are now against the referendum saying that April Uprising was the biggest referendum in which people expressed their vote against monarchy. The party thinks that to have voting again on the same issue will be ‘regressive’.]
3. The whole country must be taken as one constituency and proportionate voting procedure must be opted. UML thinks that with this procedure, the agendas of parties will get importance than the individual contestants. This will, UML thinks, will strengthen political parties’ representation in CA. [Parties in the last summit had almost agreed on holding elections via mixed voting method. That means 205 (out of 425) members will be elected from current constituencies and parties will nominate other 204 in proportion to the popular vote they get. The Prime Minister will nominate the remaining 16 members.]
The deal also has an element of reciprocity: Equal number of weapons belonging to the Nepali Army will be stored and locked up at the barracks and the UN will inspect these as well. Until the constituent assembly elections takes place, both the Maoist combatants and Nepali Army personnel will be confined within their respective cantonments and barracks. Continue reading Nepal Peace Process: Breakthrough On Arms Issue, UML Has New Stands