Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Only interrupted, not over


Have the talks stalled?
There are so many issues to resolve, it is only normal that the talks are taking this long. The interim constitution drafting committee left a lot of things open, like the king's role in the interim constitution, constituent assembly (CA) elections, setting up the interim parliament and council of ministers, the correct way to set up an interim constitution, arms management and how to canton the Maoist army, etc.

The Maoists say the latest talks ended inconclusively due to disagreement on arms management.
Both sides agree to the policy issues related to it. The five-point agreement says it is imperative to discuss the procedure of army and arms management with the UN, and that is what we are doing.

The Maoists say that the seven parties didn't agree to any of the three alternative solutions they put forward.
The government has one alternative-build a consensus, form an interim government with the Maoists and conduct the CA polls. Both sides agree that the priority is to manage the army and weapons and form an interim government simultaneously. Things must be finalised by November for next June's elections.

How will arms management happen?
The procedure for weapons management has already been agreed upon. Maoists will remain in cantonment with arms and the Nepal Army will move to the barracks.

Did Prime Minister Koirala backtrack during Sunday's talks?
He remains committed to peace talks and is in fact moving ahead paying attention to the changing situation. The prime minister's main concern is how to conduct the CA polls soon.

Interview with Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai in Himal Khabarpatrika, 18 October-1 November


Are the talks interrupted or stalled?

Just interrupted. The prime minister has been under pressure after the king's principal secretary Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan talked with Chief of Army Staff Rukmangat Katuwal. Apparently he and the NC were pressured by royalists within the party, the palace, and international powers. The parliamentary powers also do not have a strong stance on monarchy and military transformation. We had agreed on the UN monitoring both armies, and were near a bigger agreement, but then Koirala came under pressure from an invisible source to disagree with us on monarchy and arms management.

What do you mean by arms management?
Moving our army to camps and the Nepal Army to barracks before constituent assembly elections, and monitor them under UN supervision. Those generals who oppose loktantra need to be sacked. The new, integrated national army should be 30-40,000 strong.

You have some new proposals?
If the NC is ready to go for a republic, we agreed to lock away our weapons. If not, we call for a referendum to end the monarchy, nationalise the king's property, and lock up both the army's weapons. If a deal is still difficult, we agree to participate peacefully in CA elections, but won't join the government.

So you want to join the interim government with weapons?
The royal army's weapons have been used repeatedly against loktantra. That's why we proposed transforming the royal army and managing its arms first, after that we'll agree to the same. We don't want two armies in Nepal either, that is why we want a loktantrik military. If talks fail, we will go for an urban uprising.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)