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Maoists in Nepal Remain Force to Reckon With

In one of the deadliest attacks since the beginning of their insurgency in 1996, Maoist rebels in Nepal killed 141 people, mostly soldiers and police last weekend.

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Scene of mayhem

The attack was an attempt to wipe out the Nepal's constitutional monarchy and establish a communist state. Nepal has now vowed to fight terrorism and crack down on the Maoist guerrillas.

The violence comes just days before parliament is set to ratify the emergency rule imposed on the Himalayan kingdom on November 26 last year. The main opposition party CPN-UML wants to support the emergency conditionally.

Just a week ago, on Feb 10; the winter session of parliament (Pratinidhi Sabha), was to decide the fate of the state of emergency imposed in the country.

Though vehemently criticised by opposition party leaders for his "failure" to broker peace with the Maoist negotiators, a calm Prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba appealed to all political parties and his countrymen to help the government fight "terrorism".

Nepali PM ready to make concessions

The Prime Minister even expressed his readiness to make changes in the constitution and form an interim electoral government.

"If dialogue fails, force is necessary, emergency is unavoidable," Deuba told the House of Representatives, justifying the state of emergency that was clamped after the three rounds of talks between the government and the Maoists failed in late November.

"Emergency was the only option left...But now, if you think that making changes in the constitution and forging a national government could be a solution, I am ready for that. Let’s sit and discuss (the possibilities)."

Opposition for conditional support

His reactions came after the Main Opposition CPN-UML leader, Madhav Kumar Nepal, indicated that his party, which has 68 seats in Parliament, could support the government "if they are ready for changes in the constitution".

Rejecting the Maoist proposal to form a constituent assembly—which would mean drafting a new constitution—Nepal said, "Such a move would only dampen the achievements of the popular movement of 1990. So the need of the hour is to amend the constitution. This could also be the solution to the political problem."

The state of emergency, declared on November 26 ,1999 to quell the six-year-old insurgency, needs to be ratified with a two thirds majority of the House of Representatives by February 23, 2002. That is within three months of its declaration, as per Article 115 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal.

Maoists: a formidable force

The Maoist cadres still consider Communist party chairman Prachanda as the second most powerful leader after Baburam Bhattarai, who is said to be in favour of the peace talks with the government. Earlier there were rumours that the two leaders are losing their grip on the Maoist armed force.

The armed rebels now seem to have switched support towards a man called R.B.Thapa.

Thapa played a crucial role in recruiting cadres for political and combat training in Sisne Himal of Rukum and Jaljala of Rolpa districts, the birthplace of maoism in Nepal.

This was known as the "Seize Campaign" in the party, before the CPN (Unity Centre) split up into the CPN (Maoist) and CPN (4th Congress) in 1993.

The Maoists launched a "People’s War" in February, 1996. Out of 75 districts of Nepal, they took control of 46 districts.. After emergency & military operations, their control dwindled to around 20 districts of Nepal.

Violence changes politics of power

After the Saturday night incident, the situation has changed in the landlocked Himalayan kingdom. Opposition CPN-UML leader, Madhav Kumar Nepal, has to reconsider his party stand. His party might have to support the re-imposition of emergency unconditionally.

The emergency meeting of the government might also discuss ways to present its point of view in the parliament. The government might decide to hold talks with the CPN-UML to gain their unconditional support in ratifying the state of emergency declared by the King on November 26.

  • Date 18.02.2002
  • Author Pushp Ranjan
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/1rjc
  • Date 18.02.2002
  • Author Pushp Ranjan
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/1rjc