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Nepal's Peace Process Faltering

Maoist night protest. Image by Flickr user izahorsky. Used under a creative commons license

Maoist night protest. Image by Flickr user izahorsky. Used under a creative commons license

Nepal's fragile peace process is faltering amidst increasing clashes between the Maoists and the government. Unhappy with President Ram Baran Yadav's decision to reinstate sacked Army Chief Rookmangud Katwal (Katwal was sacked by then Maoist led government), the former rebels launched massive protest across the nation. Their main demand being “re-establishment of people's supreme authority”, where they seek to curtail the President's authority as he is not an elected official. They have just announced third round of protest activities, after the first two round failed to produce any results.

Nepali language blog Mysansar has a brief outline of the protest programs Maoists are planning to launch.

“राष्ट्रपतिको कदम सच्याउनु पर्ने माग गर्दै स‍ंसद र सडकमा आन्दोलन गरिरहेको माओवादीले आफ्नो अल्टिमेटम सकिएको भोलिपल्ट घोषणा गरेको कार्यक्रमले खुसी र चिन्ता दुवै ल्याएको छ। खुसी यस कारण कि माओवादीले सोमबार, म‌ंगलबार र बुधबार तीन दिन स‍ंसद खोल्न दिने भएको छ। बजेट पास गर्नका लागि उसले चार महिनादेखि ठप्प संसद खोल्न दिएको बताएको हो। तर उसले देश भने बन्द गर्ने कार्यक्रम पनि ल्याएको छ। त्यो पनि एक दिन हो र, तीन तीन दिन। तीन दिन बन्द हुँदा पनि माग पूरा भएन भने अनिश्चितकालका लागि बन्द गर्ने रे। तीन दिन बन्दका लागि पुस ५, ६, ७ गतेका लागि दिन तोकिएको छ।”

“Maoists who have been protesting on the streets and in the parliament demanding the President correct his decision have announced programs which have brought relief and some confusion. Relief because the Maoists will allow the parliament to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They are allowing the parliament to work so that discussions can be held on the annual budget. But they have also announced strikes across the nation. That too not for a day but for three whole days. If their demands are not met after the three days protest, they will go into indefinite strike. The three-day protest will start on Poush 5 and end on 7th (December 20-22)

United Nations has expressed concerns, writes blogger Mohan Nepali at GroundReport, over the way government and the Maoists seem to ignore the promises made when signing the peace agreement in 2006.

“UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today strongly urged Nepali political forces, including those in government, to make sure that human rights of all people are protected. It has called on both Nepal government and Maoist protesters not to resort to any violence since it may jeopardize the very peace process going on since 2006.

The OHCHR expressed its concern on the likelihood of violence in the name of Maoist protests and subsequent government actions”

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is under a lot of pressure to resolve the conflict with the Maoists but so far he has been unable to placate the former guerrillas. Maila Baje at Nepali Netbook says that Mr. Nepal's latest attempt to end the stand-off with the Maoist has failed to make any waves:

“Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal warned the other day that the constituent assembly could be dissolved. But the parliament that the elected body doubles as wouldn’t be, he was quick to clarify. If the prime conciliator was expected to attempt a middle way out of our deepening deadlock, he did not disappoint. Especially since he passed the buck to President Ram Baran Yadav.”

Krishna Hari Pushkar, who works for Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs, puts part of the blame for the faltering peace process on “foreign actors”:

“It is seen that all internal and external peace actors are visibly performing against the ethics of peace process and bouncing beyond the edge of comprehensive peace accord. So, how can Nepal's peace process go normally in such situation towards its expected end? Forlornly, it is hapless to describe that no any single direct and indirect actors found sincere and practically committed towards the success of ongoing peace process of Nepal. If the situation continues, it won't be surprising when the moist battalions decide to return jungle or government imposes special op against ethno-political combatants. It is unfortunate that some vested politicians’ declares that re-insurgency or re-warfare is held in search of peace, however it has proved blunder to impel for “breach peace for peace”.

So far the protest rallies have been peaceful, in some places colorful and musical. Here is a short video of once such protest rally.

Now that the Maoists have decided to launch second round of protests and are threatening to go on strike for an indefinite period if their demands are not fulfilled, it seems that the drama will continue for a while.

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