In the end, the Maoists won their victory against the king and established parties not through battle but through democratic elections. The former rebels are the strongest faction in the constituent assembly by a long way. But they have fallen short of winning an absolute majority in the 601-seat assembly.
Maoist leader Prachanda thinks King Gyanendra (left) should live as a common citizen
Maoist leader Prachanda is now parading as the glorious victor and strongman of Nepal. He wants to turn Nepal into a republic as soon as possible and seal the fate of King Gyanendra.
“I expect that within one month we will organise the first meeting of the constituent assembly and the first meeting should abolish the monarchy,” Prachanda recently said.
“Maybe the monarch himself will try to resist the will of the masses. But if he tries, he will be punished. He can do his business as a common citizen.”
In 2005, the king fired the government, imposed emergency rule and assumed absolute power. He said the politicians had failed to tackle the Maoist insurgency. Over 13,000 people had died since 1995 in the bloody civil war between the royal Nepalese army and Maoist rebels.
Late in 2005, the mainstream parties and the Maoists made an alliance. They then orchestrated huge protests in 2006, which forced the king to relinquish power. A peace process was set on course.
The constituent assembly that has just been elected will not only give Nepal a new constitution but will also serve as an interim parliament. The Maoists will thus lead the interim government.
Maoist leader Prachanda has said he wants to maintain the alliance with other political parties, but they are still in consultation.
The former rebel leader is keen to show off his democratic credentials: “Our position is commitment to peace, to change, to a federal system, and to economic rebuilding. I will have good diplomatic relations with all the countries of the world.“
The United States still consider Nepal’s Maoists as a terrorist organisation but are currently reviewing this status.
Shortly after the April 10 polls, the former US president Jimmy Carter, who acted as an election observer, expressed his “hope that the United States would recognise and begin to do business with the Maoists.“
Shadow of doubt
But there is also some scepticism in Nepal. It is not that long since the Maoists gave up their arms and their methods are still considered unsavoury by some. In the recent election campaign, they reportedly intimidated voters and opposition candidates.
Experts such as the journalist Kanak Dixit are cautiously optimistic:
“The Maoists have been using the threat of violence over the last year and a half in the interim arrangement. But now that they have got such an overwhelming mandate from the people and they are so powerful, they must convert to a sense of responsibility.”
The Maoists are under great pressure to fulfil their promises. Promises of peace, of better living conditions for the poor in rural areas, of more democratic rights for minorities.
This Nepalese man has high hopes: "The Maoists are going to change our country. They work very hard and they want to develop our country.”
As the strongest force in the Constituent Assembly and at the head of a new cabinet, the former rebels will soon have to prove themselves. The expectations are great.