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Glitch In Peace Process And Constitution Writing

issue 03, January 15, 2012

Siddhi B Ranjitkar

The peace process and the constitution writing have been going on smoothly for some time after Dr. Baburam Bhattarai became a prime minister on August 28, 2011, the Dispute Resolution Sub-committee beaded by Chairman of UCPN-Maoist Prachanda has been resolving many disputed issues except for the governance system and the state restructuring. However, the conflict in the UCPN-Maoist has been lately the real glitch the peace process and the constitution writing have encountered.

The Dispute Resolution Sub-committee has been doing absolutely good job in resolving so many disputed issues. Chairman of UCPN-Maoist has been really negotiating with the leaders of NC and CPN-UML and other small parties to reach compromises on various disputed issues concerning the constitution writing.

At the same time the peace process has been moving, too. The Army Integration Special Committee headed by the prime minister has regrouped the Maoist combatants into three groups such as the combatants wishing to be integrated into the Nepal Army, taking voluntary retirement, and taking an especial package for the professional skill development. The integration of the Maoist combatants is so important that other political leaders have been unwilling to complete the constitution writing without the integration of the combatants and submitting their weapons to the government.

As if everything has been going smoothly to complete the peace process and the constitution writing until the so-called Vaidya group in the UCPN-Maoist seriously challenged the compromises made by Chairman Prachanda on various issues concerning the constitution writing on the Dispute Resolution Sub-committee, and the peace process Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has been pushing ahead. Members of the Vaidya group on the Constitutional Committee have disagreed the issues agreed on the Dispute Resolution Sub-committee challenging the mandate given to Prachanda by their party to negotiate with other political leaders. They have said that they would not backtrack from the presidential system of governance. They have been asking the party leadership to recall the Prime Minister Bhattarai, and even went further to saying they were for the NC leaders taking the helm of the government rather than accepting the government of Prime Minister Bhattarai.

Thereafter, Prachanda has skipped a number of the meeting of the Dispute Resolution Sub-committee, and has spent most of his time on managing the dissident group in his party. His party held a central committee meeting. Prachanda as a Chairman of the party put forward the party policy at the central committee meeting, then his deputy Mohan Vaidya Kiran submitted a counter policy. At the end of the day, both sides of the party agreed on setting aside the two versions of the party policy and go along with each other to complete the peace process and the constitution writing.

The Vaidya group says that they want to keep the people’s revolution alive as the remnants of the past regime are still active and the people have not achieve the goals of the revolution whereas Prachanda and his followers say that most of the objectives of the people’s revolution have been achieved and they need to go along with the parliamentary political parties such as NC and CPN-UML to consolidate the achievements made by the revolution completing the peace process and the constitution writing, as the current political situation in the country in particular and in the world in general is not favorable to launch a people’ revolution and win the political game.

Then, other political leaders particularly the leaders of NC have lost the trust in the UCPN-Maoist and have started publicly telling that they also would not back step even an inch from the parliamentary system of governance. They have even seen the chance of tearing down the coalition government of the UCPN-Maoist and UDMF, and have even succeeded to bring the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum-Nepal from the governing coalition to the opposition.

NC senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba has said that the parliamentary system of governance has a zero chance of giving the way to dictatorship. However, Mr. Deuba has either different definition of dictatorship or has totally forgotten how Mr. Gyanendra Shah had removed him from the elected position of prime minister and became an absolute ruler in 2005, and how Mahendra had removed the elected government of NC leader BP Koirala and dissolved the elected parliament in December 1960 and imposed the no-party system called ‘Panchayat’ that lasted for 30 years. Both Gyanendra and Mahendra had been the killer of the parliamentary system of governance. Is there any chance of someone emerging as a dictator from a parliamentary system of governance again?

NC and CPN-UML leaders have held a series of meeting with the small political parties starting on January 7, 2012 ostensibly to put pressure on the UCPN-Maoist to honor the deals they have signed off in the past but sounding to see whether they could garner a majority in the parliament to push a no-confidence vote on the current coalition government. Second level leader of NC Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat has publicly said that his party would bring a no-confidence motion against the current government if his party could garner a majority in the parliament.

However, leaders of the small parties in the series of meeting attended by leaders of 16 political parties have said that it is not time to engage in tearing down one government and forming another but it is the time to complete the peace process and the constitution writing, and ask the leaders of NC and CPN-UML for building a common understanding of these two parties on the governance system and other matters of concerns about the constitution writing and the peace process so that they could jointly negotiate with the UCPN-Maoist leaders.

The peace process has been stalled because the commanders of the Maoist combatants want the integration of all the combatants that have wished for the joining the Nepal Army, and they also have demanded several high ranking positions in the Nepal Army. The seven-point deal the four political power centers such as UCPN-Maoist, NC, CPN-UML and UDMF reached a few weeks ago has stated that the maximum number of the combatants to be integrated would not exceed 6,500. However, the number of combatants wishing to join the Nepal Army reached 9,800 arising the question of what to do with the balance number of combatants 3,300 that want to join the Nepal Army. Prachanda has assured the combatants of talking to the leaders of NC and CPN-UML for increasing the number of the combatants to join the Nepal Army but the NC and CPN-UML leaders have simple wanted to enforce the number of combatants they have agreed on the seven-point deal, and concerning the various high ranking positions for the Maoist commanders the seven-point agreement has said that they would receive the ranking following the standard and the norms of the Nepal Army.

The Vaidya group of the UCPN-Maoist has been insisting on recalling Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai from the government as he has been doing everything possible going against the decisions of the party. Members of the Vaidya group have been against how Prime Minister Bhattarai has been negotiating with other political party leaders concerning the integration of the Maoist combatants. The Vaidya group has even labeled the compromises on the integration of the Maoist combatants as the surrender to other political parties. Similarly, they have been against the BIPPA Prime Minister Bhattarai had reached with the Indian government during his India visit in October 2011. The Vaidya group also believes that the UCPN-Maoist has either surrendered or lost many things it has achieved during and after the people’s war.

Nepalis in general have been tired of the revolution, shutdowns, chaos and criminalization of politics. Majority of Nepalis are for peace and political stability and the rule of law in the country. Any political group or a party might launch a movement or a revolution but Nepalis will surely not support such political instability rather they will be ready to counter such a movement or revolution any party or group launches. So, the political leaders that have been dreaming of capturing the state power in one way or another on both sides means the left and the right of the politics need to take into account of the current mindset of Nepalis and act accordingly to save themselves and the country, too. Nepalis would not forgive the leaders and parties that go against the people’s aspirations for peace and stability that are possible only through completing the peace process and the constitution writing.

The issues concerned for both the Vaidya group of the UCPN-Maoist and some leaders of NC and CPN-UML seem to be not so serious for the common folks but they have been a real glitch for completing the peace process and the constitution writing. We believe that these are not serious issues in comparison to what they have agreed on so many contentious issues concerning the peace process and the constitution writing, only a small group in both sides wants to take these issues as an excuse for taking an opportunity of disrupting the peace process and the constitution writing. These guys want to push the country back to some sorts of conflict. So, both the leaders of UCPN-Maoist and of other political parties together need to make a compromise on the things that would be acceptable to all parties concerned and resolve the issues immediately not giving any excuse to the dissident group and the opportunists to destabilize the political situation in the country, and to continue the peace process and the constitution writing in view of the short time available for completing these nationally important issues. The term of the Constituent Assembly elected for writing a new constitution and promulgating it is expiring on May 28, 2012. The Constituent Assembly needs to complete the constitution writing and promulgate it within this period otherwise the country might fall back to political chaos and even conflict that is not in the interest of anybody.

January 12, 2012

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