The Maoists have said they will be ready to hold peace talks if the government gives clear answers to the six questions put forth by Maoist chief Prachanda. "If the government is able to answer all the questions, it will be able to prove that it is indeed in control," said spokesman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Krishna Bahadur Mahara. His comment has come one day after Prachanda made his questions public through a press release on Friday. Prachanda's questions include:
. Can the government reverse the 4 October, 2002 move of King Gyanendra?
. Can it make a trustworthy environment for talks, taking parliamentary parties into confidence against the wishes of the army generals?
. Can it take action against the killer of former UML parliamentarian Hem Narayan Yadab?
. Can it do something concrete to demonstrate that the army is under its control?
Mahara warned if the government tried to give twisted answers to these questions, it would be double-crossing, adding, "When the government has not been able to solve the problem of the parties agitating in the streets, how will it be able to address the problem we have caused for the restoration of the entire state?"
Headline in Kantipur, 25 September: 'Maoists willing for conditional talks'
Headline in Annapurna Post, 25 September: 'Maoists reject talks offer'
The rebels have also dismissed the government's proposal for secret talks. "We are not for peace talks," said Mahara. "When we are, we will inform the people and act in a transparent manner." Will the rebels declare a ceasefire before Dasai? "Our wish for a ceasefire alone will not bring any result. We did not begin the war because we wish to do so. Even if the Buddha was alive today, he would also ask us to take up arms," said Mahara.
Mahara insisted that the government should make a public commitment on a constituent assembly and give power to the people.
He is against a restoration of parliament. "This is the idea of reactionary forces to dupe the people," Mahara said. "The restoration of the parliament may solve the problems of the parliamentary parties but the national problem will remain unsolved. That is why we have been saying that the solution of the present problem is the constituent assembly and not the restoration of the parliament."
Mahara, however, said his party did not see any possibility of peace talks in the near future. "More than prospects of talks, we foresee the possibility of war." Reasoning his party's belief, he said, "There has been unprecedented rise in the movement of foreign powers in Nepal and that means we have the added responsibility of keeping the country's integrity intact."