Nepal Peace Process: Leaders Bargain Inside, Brisk Business (and Intense Debate) Outside

By Dinesh Wagle in Baluwatar (Outside the Prime Minister’s residence)
Wagle Street Journal (All pics by Wagle)

Nepal fifth round summit talks day 2

Mission Republic: Lokraj Pandey, 22, is in a mission to spread the message of democratic republicanism in Nepal.

While leaders inside the official residence of the Prime Minister in Baulwatar were busy in the past two days bargaining on issues that will decide the future of the country, Shankar Chaudhari, 55, was putting pressure on the stove with the same intensity. There were people from the various walks of the life in front of the Gate No. 3 (east) of the PM residence on Monday and Tuesday as the high level talks kicked off. There were people, with wide range of political affiliation, who full of curiosity about everything going inside. There were people, from the civil society, who said they were there to pressurize the talking sides for the declaration of the Constituent Assembly elections. And there were scoop hungry journalists who were desperate for the headlines. While the Gate No. 3 remained closed to all these people, the wide entrance of Shankar’s place was open to all. Shankar not only fed samosa and other eatables to tired reporters who were standing all day expecting information from inside but also got a glimpse of how do they really function. Continue reading Nepal Peace Process: Leaders Bargain Inside, Brisk Business (and Intense Debate) Outside

Summit Talk? No. Convincing Madhav Nepal and Sher Bdr Deuba? Yes

Inside the gate, problem was represented by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Sher Bahadur Deuba. Both had this common complain: We were kept in dark about the understanding reached between the Prime Minister and Maoist Chairman.

fifth summit talks

Police were mobilized, you can say, to keep the Maoist cadres away from overtaking the main entrance of the Prime Minister’s official residence. Last time, several reporters recalled, arrogant Maoist cadres had overtaken the security of the gate and restricted the movement of journalist. There were very few Maoist cadres in sight today.

Dinesh Wagle (after moving around the PM residence for about an hour and half)
Wagle Street Journal

After that press conference, our destination was the residence of Prime Minister in Baluwatar where summit talks between the Seven Party Alliance and the CPN Maoist were about to start in an hour. A plate of Mo Mo in Everest Mo Mo, Naxal was necessary to keep us standing in front of the PM residence! The Mo Mo season has begun in Kathmandu (advance obituaries to buffaloes) and there was a big queue in front of the popular Mo Mo franchise in the valley. When we reached Baluwataar, we saw a bigger crowd in front of the PM residence. There was one similarity between those crowds: both were waiting for something. In Naxal, people were eagerly waiting for the Mo Mo to be cooked properly where as in Baluwatar, people were curious to know what was cooking inside the Nepali version of the 10 Downing Street. (The story continues after the box item)

Look, what they are fighting for:

By Ghanashyam Ojha

1. Interim Parliament : Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary of the CPN-UML demanded his party should get at least one more berth than the Maoists in the interim parliament. Nepali Congress has 75 parliamentarians (including Upper House), UML 73 and NC (D) 42, besides other smaller parties in the parliament. Earlier, the leaders had agreed to give 73 berths to the Maoists in the upcoming interim parliament. “But UML insisted it should get 74 berths and if that does not happen the Maoists should get only 72 berths,” said Deputy Commander of the Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) Ananta. Today’s meeting also decided to add 10 more seats for NC, UML and the Maoists, and 8 seats for the NC (D), putting the total number of seats for them at 85, 83, 83 and 52 respectively. However, NC (D) President Sher Bahadur Deuba disagreed and demanded an equal number of extra seats for his party. A leader at today’ meeting preferring anonymity said Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala told the meeting that the NC was ready to share equal number of seats with UML and Maoists if other parties in the alliance agreed on its agendas.

Constituent assembly elections: Nepali Congress, NC (D) and the Maoists agreed to go for a mixed system for the constituent assembly elections (proportional and geographical), while the UML insisted on the proportional system. According to a leader at today’s meeting UML General Secretary Nepal said his party would not be obstacle if all other parties went for a mixed election system.

On the monarchy: Although Nepali Congress, NC (D) and the Maoists have already agreed to decide the fate of the monarchy through the first meeting of the constituent assembly elections, UML General Secretary Nepal pressed for referendum. The UML Standing Committee meeting held on Monday morning, however had decided that the party would not play spoilsport should all other parties agree that the fate of the monarchy be decided through constituent assembly.

Arms management and Maoist combatants: The seven parties and the Maoists expressed differences over the language to be used in the final draft while mentioning the issue of the arms management and the Maoist combatants. The seven parties said the draft should mention that the Maoist arms would be locked in storages within the designated cantonments. The UN will monitor the locks through close circuit camera, besides setting up sensor devices, which will sound the siren (or ring an alarm). Prachanda said the Maoists agree with the monitoring system but insisted the draft should not mention it in such a manner.

Similarly, the seven parties said the Maoist activities like extortion, display of arms in public and intimidation should be mentioned in the draft as punishable crimes. But Prachanda objected. The leaders couldn’t reach an agreement over the language to be used regarding arms management and the Maoist combatants.

Continue reading Summit Talk? No. Convincing Madhav Nepal and Sher Bdr Deuba? Yes