Nepal: Maoists in accord with democratic opposition
In a surprising shift of strategy, Nepal's Maoist guerillas have reached a 12-point common agenda with the top parliamentary parties, subsequently endorsed by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. The new pact between the armed rebels and political opposition does not seek abolition of the monarchy, but envisages a limited monarchy where the king's powers are well-defined and constitutional. It calls for elections for a constituent assembly, prior to which Maoists will desist from violence and place their arms under the supervision of the UN or other international agency.
King Gyanendra's assumption of absolute power on Feb. 1—followed by arrests of hundreds of political activists and the curbing of civil liberties and media—has led many Nepalis to view the monarchy itself as the principal obstacle to resolving Nepal's crisis. (Times of India, Nov, 26) The shift from a guerilla to civil struggle will be met with disappointment by those who have been making a mint selling arms to King Gyanendra for his grisly counterinsurgency war. Ironically, given the rebels' veneration of Mao Zedong, China appears to be a top supplier—especially since the US, UK and India, under pressure from human rights groups, have limited arms sales. In reponse to growing reports that it has received weapons from China, Royal Nepalese Army spokesman Umesh Bhattarai said the kingdom would continue receiving arms from "friendly nations." He also described the unilateral truce declared by the Maoists as a "strategic ploy" to recoup their strength, and claimed the rebels have killed 19 people after their Sept. 3 ceasefire. (Press Trust of India, Nov. 27)
If peace breaks out, it will also doubtless upset the fanatical Maoists of the US Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), who have been avidly glorifying the Nepalese Maoists and holding out for a bloody "People's War" such as that of their last cause celebre, Peru's Shining Path. One "Comrade Parvati," writing in the November edition of Monthly Review, provides a detailed insider's view of the system of parallel power which has been established in much of the country by the guerillas, formally known as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or CPN(M). If the king is forced to capitulate—or if democratic dissidents are forced to take refuge with rural guerillas, as in Burma—how will this system of parallel power evolve, or become institutionalized?
See our last post on Nepal.