Nepal – parties forge links

In the last issue of FRFI we reported on the increasing isolation of the dictatorial king Gyanendra in Nepal (FRFI 187, ‘Rebels declare ceasefire’). Since then the main social democratic parties in the country have held meetings with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M)) to discuss how to create a united front between all forces against the monarch.

The leader of the social democratic Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) (UML), Madhav Kumar Nepal, confirmed that dialogue with the Maoists had recently opened. Mr Nepal declined to give any details of the talks but said that from now on the seven-party opposition alliance and the Maoists would have a common target of ‘fighting the monarchy.’ Two weeks before the meeting the CPN(M) and UML met and signed the Rolpa Accord – an agreement pitched at a broader alliance for democracy.

This is a huge step forward and it has come about for two main, interrelated, reasons. Firstly, the refusal of the king to even heed any basic bourgeois demands, and secondly, the increasing poverty of the working class. The social democratic parties have been forced to make a move to the left and this has resulted in the meeting with the CPN(M). On 19 November there was a rally of tens of thousands (deemed illegal by the authorities since the royal takeover of 1 February) organised by the UML in the western town of Butwal in protest at the king. Addressing the meeting, UML leaders claimed such protests would continue until ‘total democracy’ is restored in the country.

In further developments the Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala confirmed that he had had a telephone conversation with the CPN(M) and asked them to join the political mainstream. The CPN(M) have released a statement that ‘the rebel leaders have put forth a stringent condition: The king should be ready to end autocratic monarchy and go for a constituent assembly election that will pave the way for a new democratic constitution in the country...Our common meeting point (with the democratic forces) would be the constituent assembly election.’

The developments are promising but there are new pitfalls for the impoverished Nepali people as they enter on this new path. Imperialism is beginning to distance itself from the king, realising that his stubbornness can no longer protect their interests. An influential member of the United States Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy, said on 18 November that the US government and the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) may have to make a choice between the monarchy and ‘the people’. Speaking on the Senate floor he asked the US government to encourage negotiations between Maoists and ‘representatives of all sectors of society who support a democratic, peaceful Nepal, as their pleas to King Gyanendra have fallen on deaf ears.’ Sounds reasonable enough. But coming from imperialism we can deduce that the US is not interested in supporting the interests of the oppressed in Nepal, but is manoeuvering to cut deals with the more opportunist elements that will become involved in the new political process. Senator Leahy, in his speech, also went on to sharply criticise the ‘ruthless Maoist insurgency’.

US ambassador to Nepal, James Moriatry, speaking in New Delhi said ‘Nepal was reaching a crossroads and that the monarch has some tough choices to make.’ He added that ‘if the monarch chooses to restore democracy it would be easier to tackle the Maoist insurgency, failing which the security situation could get worse’. It will be India that will play the broker on behalf of imperialism as far as Nepal is concerned. As well as speaking with the CPN(M), President Koirala also met with Indian Prime Minister Singh, who expressed his ‘moral’ support to the democratic forces of Nepal for the establishment of democracy.

The Nepali struggle has reached a new promising stage, one in which the working class and the peasantry are beginning to forge tentative links. Pressure will no doubt be put upon the insurgency to give up their arms, something that they have so far refused to do. Though opportunism will seek to sabotage the new political developments, the course of struggle may lead some of the more progressive social democrats to side with the most oppressed. It has long been stated by many commentators that the defeat of the RNA and the overthrow of the king can only be achieved by a unified insurgency in the countryside and in the cities. That unification is manifesting itself and the king’s days are beginning to look numbered.
Andrew Alexander

FRFI 188 December 2005 / January 2006

 

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