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.
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.
A few dozen people were sitting on the street putting papers on their chests with different kinds of messages: SPA leave monarchy, Maoists leave weapons. Another read: [American ambassador] Moriarty go back to home. They were the members of ‘civil society’ and were there to ‘exert pressure’ on the talking sides to declare the dates of CA elections. I didn’t expect them there and I was slightly irritated by there presence. Why is all this drama necessary at this time when Maoists and the SPA are seriously engaged in talks? To make these talks success is not only necessity, but the compulsion of both sides. If these talks fail, the legitimacy of the government will be in doubt and Maoist will fall down in the eyes of the public. Are these Civil Society members trying to make their presence felt and want to share the credit? But it was their right to express whatever they feel about the talks.
It was around 4:40 a caravan of cars came honking and those sitting on the streets dispersed. Prachanda was inside one of those cars. Amik Serchen was there in another car.
Members of civil society staged sit on in front of the entrance of the PM residence to pressurize the talking sides to declare the date of the CA election.
Okay, the news is that the summit talk has been postponed till tomorrow morning. Everyone has this one question: what they might have talked about in those 5 hours this evening? Here is the answer: they didn’t talked, they quarreled. Some expressed their dissatisfaction on certain issues while others tried to convince the dissatisfied. Who are the dissatisfied? It begins with the gate of the PM residence. There were two folks: Pari Thapa and Nabaraj Subedi, the parliamentarians belonging to Jana Morcha Nepal, the breakaway faction of Deputy Prime Minister Amik Serchen. The duo was denied entry inside the residence. Both said that they were the genuine Jana Morcha, not Amik Serchen and Lilamani Pokharel who went inside the residence seated inside Serchen’s car. That was the problem outside the gate.
Where is Comrade Prachanda? It was difficult for photographers to capture Maoist Chairman Prachanda in their cameras as he arrived in Baluwatar apparently leading a caravan of cars (see the pic below). Here in the photo, a photojournalist checks whether he was able to get Prachanda in his camera.
Caravan of honking cars that brought Prachanda and others to PM residence.
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. Then there were separate complains. Madhav Nepal repeated his stand that referendum must be held to decide the fate of monarchy. Sher Bahadur Deuba reiterated his hand that double lock system must be applied in Maoist cantonment. Remember the proverb “Hatti Chhiryo, puchhar adkyo” (Elephant passed but tail stuck)? The issues rose by Madhav Nepal and Sher Bahadur Deuba are puchhar (tail). The Hatti (elephant) has already passed through. Prime Minister and Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist Chairman Prachanda has agreed on the key issues and that’s the most important thing. We all know Nepali Congress has the biggest and most influential say in the government. CPN UML and other parties are just the extras in the show. They are trying to delay the finalization of the agreement just to give the impression that they tried their best to press their agendas in the talks. That’s it.
So there wasn’t any Summit Task per se. But yes there were several rounds of bilateral and multilateral talks among the 8 sides, mostly four sides- NC, NC D, Maoists and CPN UML.
Nabaraj Subedi (pictured, talking to journalists) and Pari Thapa were desperately waiting outside the entrance of the Prime Minister’s residence to be allowed to go inside and represent Jana Morcha in the summit talks instead of Deputy PM Amik Serchan.