Nepal Maoist parties bury differences, announce working alliance

Kathmandu, March 13: Twenty-one months after they split, Nepal’s two Maoist parties led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Mohan Baidhya ‘Kiran’ Thursday announced a working alliance which may just be the first step towards their re-unification.

The two parties plunged into serious ideological differences some 21 months back leading to Kiran forming the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist), a break away faction of the Prachanda-led United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M).

In a joint press statement issued Thursday, Prachanda and Kiran said they have joined hands against the government’s preparations to hold local body elections and warned that they would foil this by launching strong protests across the county.

They also warned the government not to revive the war era cases and asked the government not to arrest their cadres at a time when preparations were under way to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The formation of a TRC is the larger political understanding among the political actors of Nepal and it was expected to find a common ground on how to settle the war time cases.

The decade-long civil conflict waged by the Maoist party from 1996 killed at least 13,000 people, while around 1,000 people disappeared and thousands of others were displaced.

The newly-installed Sushil Koirala-led government has prioritised conducting the local body elections within six months. Nepal last conducted elections to the local bodies in 1997. Later, millions of rupees were reportedly embezzled in these local bodies in the absence of elected representatives.

Since its formation, the Kiran-led CPN-M has been staying outside the political mainstream and had boycotted Constituent Assembly elections held last year in November.

On the other hand, the Prachanda-led UCPN-M suffered a humiliating defeat in the elections and it now fears that the same will be repeated in the upcoming local body polls.

“Though we need to go miles for party unification, the joint statement issued on Thursday is the first step toward it,” Kiran said at a press meet organized here.

“You can understand this attempt as a working alliance,” he added.

The statement says that arresting their party cadres was against the sentiment of the peace agreement of 2006 and such acts have drawn the attention of the two parties. They have demanded immediate release of their cadres arrested in such cases and called for the formation of the TRC to settle the war-era cases.

“Instead of addressing the issue of forming the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission for Disappeared as per constitutional provision, the government is taking legal actions against the party cadres. We strongly demand that the government refrain from such activities and release those who have been detained,” said the statement signed by both Prachanda and Kiran.

Regarding the local body elections, the parties have said that these elections should be conducted only after promulgating the new constitution as envisaged in Article 138 of the interim constitution. The statement urged all stakeholders concerned to participate in the local body elections only after the drafting of the constitution.

The parties have also warned that they would hit the streets if their two-point demand charter was not met.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at girianil@gmail.com)

IANS