Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nepal in the Eye of the Hurricane

Report by Mukit N. Kattel. This report covers the developments until noon May 11 Nepal  time.

Nepal appears slow today as the Maoist Party does not have any protest program until Jestha 11 (by Nepali calendar or May 25). The Maoists have a vigorous stir planned from that date onward and have said that  preparations are currently underway and so is the case with their rivals. Bloodshed is likely after this date if the current stalemate continues. The Maoists refused to respond to a letter by the Prime Minister that requested that the Maoists sit down for talks. The Maoists have said that they would not sit for talks until the Prime Minster resigns.

The proposed deadline for the promulgation of a new constitution is May 28. Based on developments so far, no new constitution is likely by that deadline and a constitutional vacuum is likely. The Maoist Party is saying that the people themselves will promulgate a new constitution from the street on or after May 28.  The current ruling parties seem ready to respond with a declaration of a state of emergency so that they do not need any parliamentary approval for the extension of their tenure for another six months. The monarch and his camp are also waiting for that vacuum. The monarch last month said that he has not been constitutionally ousted yet as the existing constitution remains valid unless it is replaced by the new one.  They are provoking people with anti-secularist and anti-federalist slogans (and this slogan is being backed by Hindu orthodox groups in India).  There are many commonalities in interest between the current ruling parties and the monarch on army issues, land issues, etc. and the biggest partner of the ruling coalition, the Nepali Congress, is against federalism.

The process of polarization between the Maoists and their rivals has sharpened. Many (74) young cadres of the ruling party CPN-UML have filed a case against some of their top leaders for breaching the spirit of the Peace Agreement.  The ruling group of that party are trying to take action against the leaders who favoured the lines of the Maoists.  The ruling party (UML) has decided that the party does not feel it necessary to ask for the prime minister's resignation. Yesterday, BBC Nepali radio interviewed representatives from each of the main parties (UML, NC, Maoist) and the interviews revealed that the issues of difference was the integration of the Maoist’s Peoples' Liberation Army.

The current government is also facing pressures from foreign diplomatic missions and businessmen at home for a consensus government and consensus for the new constitution. Today a ruling group-inclined FM radio (Radio Sagarmatha) said people were happy to hear that the Maoists were open  to any leader from the Maoist party other than the present chaiman for the potential Prime Ministerial position, but the Maoist-inclined radios (like Radio Mirmire) have not mentioned this.  The Maoists' rivals do not like the current chairman of the Maoist party for the Prime Ministerial position; time and again they have expressed that if Dr. Baruram Bhattarai, one of the top maoist leaders, was proposed they would accept him. Many speculations exist regarding why the rivals are highlighting this issue.

Ten parties in the parliament have favored the Maoist party today for replacing the current government; with this Maoists have claimed that the current government has lost the majority support of the parliament and this meets the technical ground to call back the government.   The Maoist have boycotted the parliamentary session today, so the sessions were postponed. Reports say that backdoor negotiations are underway between the major parties for a national consensus government. Observers are curious how the maoist party would balance between the acquisition of leadership in the government and its immediate new democratic goals.

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