Analytical Monthly Review, published in Kharagpur, West Bengal, India, is a sister edition of Monthly Review. Its July-August 2006 issue features the following editorial on the current situation in Nepal. — ED.
In the year since the last monsoon, nothing has held out more hope for humanity than events in Nepal.
Last summer Nepal was divided in two, and torn by civil war. The first (primarily urban) area was in the control of the autocratic monarchy and consisted of the valley of Nepal with the central government and communications centers in Kathmandu, the few other urban areas, army bases in and near district towns, and the motorable roads that connect them.
But the great majority of the population (more than eighty percent) lived in areas in which the central government had ceased to function, where people’s governments were emerging, under the revolutionary leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
The monarchy was without popular support but was sustained by the Royal Nepal Army, equipped and advised by the United States and elements of the Indian security services with close ties to the BJP. In accordance with U.S. practice in Latin America (“Plan Colombia”), the Royal Nepal Army targeted civilians in liberated rural areas from armed helicopters and “disappeared” and tortured suspects. U.S. advisers urged the creation of death squad vigilantes in rural areas, and the first such squads were formed (notably in the Kapilvastu region in the Terai).
In the urban areas, divisions between the traditional parliamentary political leadership and the revolutionaries prevented effective opposition to the autocratic monarchy.
On August 7, 2005, the revolutionary People’s Liberation Army in a frontal assault destroyed the army base camp at Pili in Kalikot district, capturing many prisoners and a major cache of arms and ammunition. This victory proved a turning point.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in September 2005 gathered a plenary meeting of its Central Committee, successfully resolved an unhealthy internal struggle without splits or expulsions, and set out a plan of action that has led to a striking people’s victory. A unilateral three-month truce was declared on September 17, 2005, while negotiations went forward with the seven parliamentary parties (“SPA”) for a joint urban mobilization against the autocratic monarchy. The result was the “12 Point Agreement” set out in these pages in our December 2005 edition. Key was the agreement to call elections for a Constituent Assembly to decide the future of Nepal.
An attempt by the autocratic monarchy to hold elections for municipal offices in January 2006 failed in the face of a mass boycott. Candidates had to be given protection at army bases. In April 2006, urban demonstrations for the calling of a Constituent Assembly built one upon the next despite “shoot on sight” curfews. Finally, the commanders of the armed police force and army could no longer rely upon their troops to fire on the unarmed demonstrators. At this point the generals informed the palace that its time had come.
In a last desperate bid to split the revolutionaries from the parliamentary political parties, the palace called back into session the failed parliament elected in 1999. But the expired parliament could not defy the formidable mass movement. Resolutions were passed unanimously calling for elections to a Constituent Assembly, stripping the palace of its governmental role and command of the Nepal Army. A government of the SPA that had negotiated the 12 Point Agreement was formed (the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party chose to remain outside the government) to administer the urban areas that had been under the control of the monarchy.
On June 16, 2006, the political parties of this government of the urban areas and the leadership of the CPN(M), representing the governments of the rest of the nation, reached an “8 Point Agreement” setting out the conditions making possible immediate and fair elections to a Constituent Assembly as demanded by the popular movements. Its terms (in unofficial translation) are as follows:
1. Effectively and honestly implement the 12-point understanding reached between the SPA and Maoists in November last year and the 25-point Ceasefire Code of Conduct signed between the SPA government and CPN-Maoist on May 26 this year
2. Commitment to democratic norms and values including competitive multi-party system, civic liberties, fundamental rights, human rights, press freedom, and the concept of rule of law and carry out each other’s activities in a peaceful manner.
3. Request the United Nations to help in the monitoring and management of the armies and arms of both government and Maoist sides for a free and fair election to the Constituent Assembly.
4. Guarantee the democratic rights achieved through the 1990 Popular Movement and the recent historic People’s Movement; draft an interim constitution based on the 12-point understanding and the ceasefire Code of Conduct; form an interim government accordingly; announce the dates for constituent assembly elections; dissolve the House of Representatives through consensus after making alternative arrangement; dissolve the People’s Governments of CPN-Maoist.
5. Decide issues of national interests having long-term effects through consensus.
6. Guarantee the fundamental right of the Nepali people to participate in the constituent assembly elections without any fear, influence, threat and violence. Invite international observation and monitoring during the elections as per the need.
7. Bring about a forward-looking restructuring of the state so as to resolve the class-based, racial, regional and gender-based problems through constituent assembly elections. Transform the ceasefire between the Nepal Government and CPN-Maoist into permanent peace by focusing on democracy, peace, prosperity, forward-looking change and the country’s independence, sovereignty and pride, and express commitment to resolve the problem through talks
8. The government and Maoist talks teams have been directed to accomplish all tasks related to above-mentioned points without any delay.
The committee to draft an interim constitution based on the 12-point understanding and the ceasefire Code of Conduct has set to work, and its draft is expected in late July. The draft will form the basis on which the various existing governments in Nepal can be merged into a single government tasked with conducting the Constituent Assembly elections. The Nepal Army and the PLA will both be under the command of this new merged government. In short, a path to a peaceful and democratic future in Nepal has opened up as a result of exemplary revolutionary struggle. No such hopeful development has occurred anywhere in many years.
But the enemies of peace in Nepal, above all the United States, threaten these achievements. At the end of June, U.S. Ambassador Moriarty denounced the revolutionaries for not permitting the new government formed at the urban center to take control in the liberated rural areas. Moriarty attacked the agreement providing for equal treatment of the erstwhile Royal Nepal Army and the PLA in the period leading up to the Constituent Assembly elections. Moriarty demanded that the PLA disarm — but not the Nepal Army. In fact, a segment of the officer corps of the RNA remains the most significant U.S. “asset” in Nepal. This group of officers have been trained in the United States, have operated in the field torturing and killing on the “advice” of U.S. “anti-terror” specialists, and have U.S. visas and families in the United States. No peace and no democracy can be secure so long as units such as the infamous “Ranger Battalion” remain under, in effect, U.S. command.
The U.S. demand was accompanied by a threat that monetary “aid” would be withheld if, as required by the 8 Point Agreement, an interim government that includes revolutionaries is formed to conduct Constituent Assembly elections. We only wish this were true. Instead, we are certain that as the elections approach a flood of U.S. money (disguised in part as from NGO or even Nepali sources) shall be distributed in Nepal along the lines of the CIA operations in the Ukraine or Venezuela. All honest Nepalis must be on guard against these well-rehearsed forms of imperialist intervention.
This summer shall expose those who secretly wish to avoid elections for a Constituent Assembly and seek a renewed civil war. The key to identify such elements is to note those who sign on to the U.S. demands — no interim government including armed revolutionaries, no equal treatment of PLA and RNA.
This division extends to South Block. Anticipating the impending collapse of the monarchy under the mass upsurge of the Nepali people and under pressure from the Indian left parliamentary parties, the Ministry of External Affairs distanced itself from the palace. Limited assistance was permitted to the process that led to the 12 Point Agreement and peace. But elements linked to the United States and the BJP have significant influence, as shown by the U.S.-dictated Iran policy. On July 3, 2006, Pankaj Saran, joint secretary for Nepal and Bhutan, was quoted as concurring with the U.S. Ambassador Moriarty’s demand that the revolutionaries abandon their military before joining the interim government. When Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran was the BJP government’s Ambassador in Kathmandu, he boasted of (illegally!) extraditing CPN(M) leader Matrika Yadav to the tender mercies of the U.S.-advised torturers of the RNA. Today Matrika Yadav is the head of the people’s government of the Nepali Madhesi republic in the Terai. There is a lesson to be learned.
Indian communists have played a positive role in support of our Nepali comrades in this last year. The Manmohan Singh government swings between the influence of the U.S. global neoliberal imperium, to which its heart belongs, and the outraged protests of the Indian people, which it cannot ignore. We owe the brave and exemplary Nepali communists a duty of unrelenting pressure on their behalf, especially those unjustifiably still held in Indian prisons.