INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WAR – blogging naxalism.

Nepal Plunging Back Into War? (5)

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The peace process looks increasingly moribund as Nepal spirals further back into war (The Economist has a solid peace on the current crisis here).

In recent days the Maoists have resigned their ministerial posts, effectively leaving the country without a functioning government. The other large parties, notably the UML and the NCP, are in the process of forming a new cabinet which will almost certainly exclude the CPN(M). All of this is happening in the context of heightened tensions with Maoist street violence and threats to indefinitely disrupt parliamentary functioning.

Where is this leading? It is clear, given both the popular and parliamentary support enjoyed by the CPN(Maoist), as well as its ability and willingness to deploy violence, the Nepalese republic cannot and will not be able to function without their involvement. From VoA:

Political analyst Yubaraj Ghimire, says any new government formed without the backing of the Maoists is unlikely to survive for long.

“Maoist strategy would be to rule if they can, and not let anyone rule if they can’t form the government. As simple as that,” said Ghimire. “This will make the peace process and the move to institutionalize democracy a casualty.”

No Maoist governmental participation no peace. No peace, no republic. Another South Asian failed state may emerge. The key questions are: to what extent are the Maoists in engaging in posturing; how able is their leadership to compromise in the face of dissension by internal ‘hardline’ factions; and are the Maoists, as their critics allege, really interested in seizing total control of all the major organs of the state?

The sincerity of the Maoists has been severely undermined by the leaking of a video, purportedly made in 2008 (just before the election that gave the CPN(M) a plurality of parliamentary seats), that shows Prachanda telling People’s Liberation Army (PLA) commanders that he intended to disregard the conditions of the peace process and gain control over the state and the army (no English version available yet… trying to find a transcript).

On the surface this is a pretty damning indictment of the party’s sincerity and commitment to post-conflict transformation in Nepal. The only caveat might be (and it’s not a terribly convincing one) that Prachanda was simply telling the PLA leadership what it needed to hear in order to prevent them from rejecting the peace process. Prachanda has clearly had to delicately navigate between the militant factions of the party and those who have been willing to compromise. Without the support of the hardliners in the PLA, peace would have been impossible. Prachanda needed (and still needs) their support. Perhaps he was allaying their fears.

The blame for the current crisis cannot be placed exclusively on the Maoists. The second major actor in this unfolding drama, the army, is as guilty of violating both the spirit and the letter of the peace accords as are the Maoists. They have increasingly played a political role and have actively sought to undermine the elected government. According to The Economist:

In recent months Nepal’s generals have been engaging in politics nakedly, briefing foreign diplomats on alleged Maoist intentions and producing constitutional and policy proposals on issues far beyond security and military matters. The army’s political activism is backed by India, which supported the peace process but now wants a limit on Maoist power.

The current crisis is simply a culmination of the simmering antagonism between the two, large, armed groups which exist in Nepa- the army and the PLA. The other political parties have simply demonstrated their bankruptcy and rank opportunism.

It’s difficult to see how this crisis will end without either a resumption of civil war, a military coup or a slow collapse of the state. The only chance of preventing any of these outcomes is through significant and rapid diplomatic intervention from outside actors. The UN has already expressed it’s concern with the situation and both India and the United States have been engaged with both the army and the Maoists. Both countries have tarnished their credibility as honest brokers in recent weeks and another outside power must become involved.

Both the premise and the mechanisms of the peace process have been revealed as dyfunctional. Whoever does get involved would have their work cut out for them.

(Image:  Prakash Mathema/AFP)

Written by Michael

May 6, 2009 at 6:03 pm

One Response

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  1. This article is inspired by all those anti maoist journalist of nepal.
    In nepal journalist don’t cover new but always make news.

    Had anybody seen that a nepali journalist speaking to cnn ibn not as journalist but a part’s spoke person…

    nepal citizen

    May 7, 2009 at 2:27 am

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