ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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At the Crossroads

Will the prolonged political deadlock in Nepal thrust the Maoists to regain the revolutionary road?

Nepal’s prolonged political deadlock continues even as the United Nations’ Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) – monitoring the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that has yet to be implemented – ceased operations on 15 January and the 28 May deadline for the Constituent Assembly to produce a draft constitution approaches with little progress made. Indeed, there is no prospect of a new constitution being agreed upon by that date. But more ominous is the fact that despite the efforts of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN(M)] to implement the CPA, especially the integration of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the Nepal Army, all the other parties are opposed to the merger of the two armies.

Integration is at the core of the CPA. Under the CPA, the combatants of the PLA were placed in cantonments monitored by the UNMIN pending the merger of the two armies. The Nepal Army – formerly the Royal Nepal Army – was, before 2006, under the control of the king (the monarchy was abolished only in 2008). Its officer corps is high caste, some at the apex intermarried with royalty, and given their indoctrination, many of them still owe loyalty to the former monarch. They hold a grudge at having to yield control to an elected executive (and legislature) composed of civilians. More importantly, they are fiercely opposed to the politically “indoctrinated” and “unprofessional” troops of the PLA “polluting” their disciplined national force. The top brass of the Army violated the terms of the CPA, ignoring the objections of the UNMIN and its complaints to the Nepalese government. It refused to take orders from the defence minister in the Prachanda government (August 2008-May 2009). Indeed, Prachanda tried to sack the army chief for violating the terms of the CPA, but the president intervened to back the general. Thereupon, Prachanda resigned as prime minister, and his party has since stepped up its efforts at popular protests, both tactics more Gandhian than Maoist.

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