Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nepal:Maoists fight Maoists

Maoists fight Maoists as Nepal signs new peace pact
TNN | Nov 2, 2011, 06.28PM IST
KATHMANDU: Scores of Maoist hardliners, including members of parliament and former ministers, marched in an angry protest rally in capital city Kathmandu on Wednesday, burning copies of a newly signed peace pact that promised to give fresh momentum to the wilting peace process, and threatening to pull out of the party.

Led by Maoist deputy chief Mohan Baidya, and Maoist MPs Chandra Prakash Gajurel, Ram Bahadur Thapa Magar and Pampa Bhushal, the hardliners are asking their own comrade and prime minister, Dr Baburam Bhattarai, to scrap the new peace agreement hammered out on Tuesday night among the four major powers in parliament.

They are the Maoist party, the opposition Nepali Congress and communists, and the Maoist government's main ally, a bloc of ethnic parties from the Terai plains.

The seven-point agreement, endorsed by Maoist supremo Prachanda himself, breaks the ice after five long years of negotiations, and paves the way for the dissolution of the Maoists' guerrilla army. Prachanda finally agrees that the nearly 20,000-strong People's Liberation Army will now be discharged. While maximum 6,500 guerrilla fighters will be inducted into the national army, as per the peace accord signed in 2006, the others will be either rehabilitated or discharged if they seek voluntary retirement.

Those seeking voluntary discharge will be given a golden handshake ranging from NRS 500,000-800,000, while those opting to be rehabilitated will have the state spend NRS 600,000-900,000 on programmes to provide each of them training and support. Those chosen for induction in the army will have to fulfil army criteria which will be relaxed in case of educational and other qualifications. However, their job will be non-combatant, being part of a special directorate that will have 65 percent personnel from other state security agencies. It will be employed in sectors like forest security and infrastructure building.

This is the part that has ruffled the feathers of the Maoist hawks who are calling it a betrayal of the "glorious PLA" that fought a "People's War" for 10 years and ushered in liberation. Baidya called a press conference on Wednesday with lightning speed, condemning the pact as a revisionist plot to undermine and disband the PLA.

The hawks are demanding a national security policy before the PLA is disbanded. They had also led a protest earlier this year, soon after Bhattarai became prime minister, when the PLA formally handed over to the government the keys to the containers where their arms were stored.

The renewed dissent among the Maoists now poses a real danger of the party facing a vertical split. With the Baidya faction flexing its muscles, all eyes would be on the meeting of the Maoist central committee that starts from Thursday,

The new agreement lays down a new deadline for Nepal: Nov 23. The regrouping of the PLA has to be completed by this time. The major parties will also have to form within this deadline two major commissions: one to punish the crimes committed during the insurgency and another to find the state of the over 1,000 people missing still.

There has been a cautious response to the new pact. Nepal's two major dailies on Wednesday warned the parties that the new agreement had better work and not remain just another pretext to give a new lease of life to parliament. The 601-seat house is scheduled to unveil a new constitution by Nov 30. It failed three earlier deadlines to accomplish the task and is likely to miss the Nov deadline as well.

Each time, the defaulting government had to pay a price for the lapse by making way for a new government. So the new pact raises suspicions that it could be just a ploy to let the Bhattarai government remain in power even after Nov 30 although it would fail to ready the statute. The suspicion gets some legitimacy since the pact say the parties will begin work to get cracking on the first draft of the constitution, without however mentioning when the work will be over.

Since last month, Prachanda himself has been dropping hints that parliament would get another six months' time to complete the constitution and the pact indicates that the hint could become a reality. A vertical split among the Maoists at this juncture is likely to create new complications.

No comments:

Post a Comment