DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA
Despite the delay, the handover of the Maoist ex-combatants to the Special Committee has opened up the road towards their integration and rehabilitation. Now we can take the peace process ahead based on this understanding. It has been unanimously agreed that the UCPN (Maoist) should separate itself from its army and weapons. The Maoists themselves have been repeating their commitment towards finalising the peace process and have raised the need to prepare norms and standards for integration. Chairman Dahal did say the Maoists were ready for integration during the talks in Hattiban and Gokarna, but said nothing about the numbers, norms or modalities to be employed. Now we are working to give this a final shape. I have proposed a regrouping of those interested in integration and rehabilitation, and Maoist, NC and UML leaders sound positive. For this we should settle on standards based on consensus.
If we are still hoping for a majority system to elect a prime minister, it will take us nowhere. In the last meeting of the main parties, both NC and UML made it clear to the Maoists that they will not accept a Maoist-led government until they renounce their army and weapons. If the Maoists are willing to address this issue, we can have results in a couple of days.
There are two streams in the political scene right now. One believes the Maoists should not be supported till they completely give up their arms. The other is willing to support the Maoists as long as they provide enough evidence that they will work towards this goal. There is scope for consensus if we can settle on a basis of power sharing between these two sides.
It is not enough to present the modality of peace process on paper. There should be concrete steps taken to build an environment of trust. Dahal implemented the points of the October agreement four months later, in Shaktikhor. I believe there were two reasons for this delay: one, it was a ploy to engage parties by making agreements without implementing them and two, because of internal fissures within the Maoists. I think the Maoists have finally implemented the agreements because they felt that keeping an army was hurting their credibility. But the problem is the Maoists are trying to earn trust in instalments, which in fact is not helping reduce the trust deficit among parties at all. The Maoists should understand this: if they are going to walk the path of peace and trust, why talk of revolt? It is only proving to be counterproductive for them. Either the Maoists have not understood this or don't want to. The uncertainty and extreme leftism in the party has also contributed to the delay.
We need to at least start regrouping the combatants this week and then proceed to determining numbers, standards and processes for integration. Several modalities are under discussion about how and where to integrate the Maoists, but now the real work should begin.
We don't need foreign help to do this. We don't need to think about the interests of other countries to plan our actions. The only interest we should be looking out for is that of Nepal and its people. There are those who say that India will not accept a Maoist government in Nepal. But I think it should not make a difference.
There is widespread fear and speculation among people about what will happen after 28 May, the extended deadline for drafting the constitution. If the parties reach a consensus, there will be a constitution. But if the current atmosphere of mistrust and uncertainty persists, it is hard to say. We won't have to wait long to see if the statute will be written by this date; this will be clear by the end of March. And if the constitution is not written, the first one to be held responsible will be the Maoists, as the chief stakeholder and actor of the peace process.
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Shaktikhor waits, DAMBAR K SHRESTHA in CHITWAN