American Diplomatic Cable: On General Rukmangat Katawal

2006-01-26 10:11

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FM AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 3524
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 9096
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RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L KATHMANDU 000255

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2016
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL NP
SUBJECT: RNA WORRIED THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO CONSENSUS ON HOW
TO TACKLE INSURGENCY

REF: A. KATHMANDU 172

¶B. KATHMANDU 199

Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Civilian Leadership Should Explain Counter-Insurgency Plan
———————————-

¶1. (C) On January 20, Lt. General Katawal, Royal Nepalese
Army (RNA) Chief of General Staff, told the Ambassador he
was worried that the government did not have a unified
strategy for tackling the Maoist insurgency. Katawal
reiterated that there was no purely military solution to the
insurgency; the RNA could only work to create space for a
negotiated political solution. He noted that the civilian
government should lead the effort to inform its citizens
about Nepal’s overall plan to tackle the insurgency. Katawal
stressed that a civilian government needed to explain to the
people what the military was doing and why, especially why
the government needed to restrict civil liberties.

¶2. (C) Katawal explained that Home Minister Kamal Thapa had
tried to work with the political parties on January 19 to
avert the need for a day long curfew on January 20, the day
Parties planned to hold mass demonstrations in Kathmandu.
Katawal noted that the government had clear evidence that the
Maoists intended to infiltrate the Parties’ demonstration;
the Maoists had already brought automatic weapons into the
Kathmandu Valley, and had attacked police stations here (ref
A). He pointed out that, during their rule, the Parties had
placed restrictions on citizens for security reasons but now
were unwilling to accept the need for such restrictions. The
Ambassador agreed that Nepal needed a national consensus on
how to address the insurgency. The Ambassador told Katawal
that he had met with the Foreign Minister, Home Minister and
Vice Chairman (ref B) to urge the government to postpone
elections, reach out to the parties, and declare a cease-fire
to create space for the legitimate democratic forces to
discuss a counter-insurgency plan.

Parties Worried
—————

¶3. (C) Katawal asserted that the Maoists skillfully exploited
the lack of government vision by using the political parties
themselves to create tension among the legitimate democratic
forces. Katawal admitted that the Maoists’ strategy had been
“successful to an extent,” but added that the political
parties should soon see their mistake in aligning with the
Maoists through the 12-point understanding. He noted the
irony of the Parties linking with the Maoists: it was the
Parties themselves who first labeled the Maoists as
“terrorists” when the Parties were in power. Katawal
believed the Parties had entered into the understanding with
the Maoists to pressure the King and the RNA. He stressed
that the RNA had no political aims, saying that the RNA would
“obey any constitutional government.” Katawal opined that
the parties, especially the Nepali Congress party, were
beginning to feel trapped, but acknowledged that it was “hard
for the Parties to back down publicly.” He added it was
“time for the state to take steps so political parties could
come to the negotiating table.” Katawal hoped that the
international community could urge the leaders of the
political parties “to understand the gravity of the
situation” and to understand that the RNA was not the enemy
of democracy.

Comment
——-

¶4. (C) Nepal’s monarchy and political parties have, over the
past ten years, viewed the Maoist insurgency primarily as a
chip to be played in their political games; at various times,
each of the major Parties and the King have used the Maoists
to advance their own interests vis-a-vis the other legitimate
political actors. Thus, there has been no broad agreement on
a counter-insurgency strategy. They have now reached the
stage where, if the legitimate democratic forces do not stand
together, there is a very real risk that the Maoists will
succeed in their goal of a totalitarian state. Katawal’s
readiness to assure the Ambassador that the RNA had no
political ambition might be an indication that some in the military understand that the King must reach out to the political parties in order to ensure implementation of an effective counter-insurgency plan.

MORIARTY

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