To mark the first anniversary of his direct rule, His Majesty King Gyanendra summed up the situation: terrorist activities have been largely controlled and are limited to stray incidents, the nation has been saved from becoming a failed state, the peoples' strongest desire is for peace, democracy and development, to strengthen meaningful democracy, the government would hold elections at all levels within 15 months, the crown's interest was only to uphold the glorious tradition of our history and to work in the interest of the people and finally an appeal to all to forget the bitter past and to reconcile in the national interest.
If the king's analysis had been correct and if he was sincere in delivering on his promises, we would soon achieve peace and be on the road to democracy.
Unfortunately, even as he addressed the nation and in these two weeks after, the Maoists have intensified their attacks on security forces extending the death and destruction. The regime feels that the Maoists must surrender their arms before it will begin to negotiate, which is a very wrong appreciation of the ground reality.
The king is trying to consolidate his hold by blaming and sidelining the parties, the parties are blaming the king for his unconstitutional and regressive acts and signing the 12 point agreement with the Maoists to fight against the king's authoritarian rule and for the establishment of total democracy, the Maoists are engaged in their hopeless quest for the forceful overthrow of the old order and replacing it with a 'democratic republic'.
Although the regime gave itself the task of controlling corruption, implementing good governance and de-politicisation of the civil service, its main agenda seems to be holding elections at any cost, even if the political parties do not agree to participate in them.
As the uncertainty and delays continue, there are some self-evident truths about the past 10 years of conflict:
l The nation and its people can no longer sustain this conflict and thus the urgency of a peace process
l There is no military solution. (In recent interviews even Prachanda gives indications of the Maoists' willingness to resolve the conflict through dialogue if minimum demands are met).
l The international community and civil society are more than willing to help mediate or facilitate.
l There is a need to evolve a new paradigm to address state restructuring for the devolution of power.
l Also for inclusive political participation of all people through proportional representation in parliament on the basis of total electoral votes secured.
l All actors must seek a solution: the king gracefully accepting a genuine constitutional role as befits a monarch in the 21st century, the political parties atoning for past mistakes and committing themselves to internal democracy and the Maoists demonstrating a willingness to renounce violence and accept
the verdict of constituent assembly polls.
It has now fallen upon His Majesty to make a bold and historic decision to accept the verdict of the people for peace, democracy and development. He should immediately abandon his current road map, restore press freedom and invite political parties, the Maoists and members of civil society to a national conference that would chart out the direction to peace and the return to constitutional rule.
Ajit N S Thapa is a NC-D Central Committee member.