Journalist | Writer | Analyst
Kathmandu: Tens of thousands of people turn up to warn the parties against betrayal as parliament is all set to reconvene. And in another major softening of their stance, the Maoists spell out three conditions for joining ‘peaceful politics’.
28 April 2006
Parties gear up in Nepal
People’s revolution still alive
Kathmandu: King Gyanendra’s eleventh-hour climbdown may have averted a violent showdown but the people’s revolution in Nepal shows no signs of letting up. On the eve of the reconvening of Parliament, more than one lakh people crowded into the Khula Manch grounds at Ratna Park on Thursday to hear what the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) leaders intend to do once they assume power.
Holding aloft flags of the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party, they chanted slogans demanding a constituent assembly and warning their leaders not to betray the movement. Above all, they wanted assurances from Prime Minister-designate Girija Prasad Koirala, but the grand old man of the Nepali Congress (NC) was taken ill with an unspecified lung ailment. Instead, former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Communist Party of Nepal (UML) leader Madhav Kuma Nepal sought to spell out the kind of steps their all-party government would take in its first days in office.
Mr. Deuba, an establishment figure who has flirted between palace and opposition for nearly half a decade, declared: “There is no alternative to a constituent assembly.” On his part, Mr. Nepal announced that if Parliament did not take a decision on holding elections for a constituent assembly, he would resign from the House and re-launch the people’s movement. Mr. Nepal said the new government would remove the terrorist label from the Maoists, reciprocate the ceasefire declared by the insurgents on Wednesday night, and start negotiations towards a final settlement of the conflict.
In a mea culpa of sorts, Mr. Deuba admitted that he was deceived by King Gyanendra over and over again but that “this time I will not be deceived … I know the King better than most people so he may deceive the people. That is why I can’t compromise on the issue of holding elections to a constituent assembly to make people sovereign,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Maoists have taken a major step towards establishing a closer working relationship with the SPA, indicating their willingness to enter the arena of peaceful politics provided three conditions are met.
Speaking to Nepal One channel late on Thursday, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) leader Baburam Bhattarai said the SPA must announce its intention to go in for an unconditional constituent assembly, reciprocate the ceasefire and release all Maoist prisoners, and remove the terrorist tag and red corner notice from the party and its mass organisations. In response to a question, Dr. Bhattarai confirmed that the demand for the release of jailed party leaders and activists included those being held in India such as Kiran and Gourav.