Excepts rom the latest Green Left Weekly
On June 16, Nepal’s governing Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the rebel Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which has been waging an anti-monarchy, anti-landlord guerrilla war since 1996, reached agreement to form an interim government that would include the CPN(M), and to declare soon the date for the election of a constituent assembly to discuss and draft a new constitution.
As part of the deal, the CPN(M) has agreed to dissolve the rural “people’s governments” that it leads and through which it controls some 80% of the Himalayan kingdom of 27 million people…
The parties that make up the SPA won 194 out of 205 seats in Nepal’s last parliamentary election, held in 1999. The SPA’s main components are the liberal monarchist Nepali Congress party and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist). Up until May 2002, the Nepali Congress held 113 seats, but lost 40 MPs when a group split away to form the Nepali Congress (Democratic), which is also part of the SPA.
The CPN(UML), which was formed in 1991 out of the 1990 urban-based mass movement that forced King Birendra to allow the formation of a parliamentary government, won 68 seats in the 1999 elections.
Election of a constituent assembly was a major demand of the April mass movement that forced King Gyanendra to abandon 14 months of dictatorial rule and to allow the SPA to form a government. But election’s timing and preparatory steps are still under intense contention, with differences among the major political forces in the democracy movement that were set aside earlier re-emerging.
One key issue of contention is whether the monarchy will be completely abolished or kept in a ceremonial capacity. The other is to what extent the CPN(M)-led forces should disarm before leaders of the party can be accepted as part of the new government.
In an apparent bid to display its independent mobilising power, on June 2 the peasant-based CPN(M) organised a rally of hundreds of thousands of people in the capital Kathmandu that demanded the disbanding of any parliament that doesn’t carry out the “people’s aspirations”.
This set the scene for the far-reaching eight-point understanding on June 16.
On June 24-25, the CPN(M)’s two key leaders — Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai— travelled to Kathmandu to have meetings with at least two of the constituent parties of the SPA — the CPN(UML) and the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party — to “address suspicions and differences”.
The next day, a six-member interim constitution drafting committee was formed, tasked to present a draft of a new interim constitution not later than within 15 days.
The June 26 edition of South Korea’s Ohmy News website quoted Nepali home minister Krishna Prasad Sitoula, who is also the SPA’s chief negotiator with the CPN(M), as saying “the Maoists will join the government as soon as the UN starts monitoring the weapons of the Nepal Army and the Maoists”. Sitoula added the date of the constituent assembly election would only be announced after the interim government ensures that “people will not have to feel insecure from either” the Nepalese Army or the Maoist guerrillas during the election.