Nepal: king bows to multiple pressures

In the last issue of FRFI we reported the ongoing street demonstrations against the dictatorial King Gyanendra in the cities of Nepal. The king responded to the pressure of the demonstrations and the political isolation he was under by reappointing Sher Bahadur D Color euba as prime minister. Deuba, the head of a breakaway faction of the Nepali Congress, was sacked by Gyanendra in 2002 as part of his coup against parliament.

As well as the protests forcing the king’s hand, Deuba’s reinstatement is the result of pressure from the unity of the five main parliamentary parties. A unity which Deuba’s appointment has now split, with the arch-reactionary Communist Party of Nepal joining Gyanendra’s side and others refusing to accept the new prime minister, seeing him as a continuation of ‘regression’. The Maoists, led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M)), have refused a third ceasefire and negotiations with Deuba under the present circumstances, dismissing him correctly as a puppet of the king.

However, this political manoeuvre by the king has not lessened the demonstrations against his autocratic rule, nor will it do so. For it is an attempt to spread the illusion of a multi-party government in Kathmandu and bring back to life the now defunct 1991 constitution of Nepal, an illusion that will not easily fool the oppressed Nepalese people.

Ultimately though it was the imperialists, perhaps more than anyone, that turned the king’s hand. Recently the ambassadors of Britain, France and Germany stated that the participation of all the parliamentary parties in the government is ‘essential to end the political deadlock in the country’ and urged the king to accept a political package including multi-party government and negotiation with the Maoists, with the proviso that both sides give up their arms. They stressed that the ‘multi-party government was the only solution to the present political crisis.’

‘Political deadlock’ and ‘political crisis’ show the two main contradictions in Nepal: the ‘political deadlock’ being that between the king and the parliamentary parties since 2002, and the ‘political crisis’ being the revolutionary war which the Nepalese state has failed to defeat. The pressure to deal with the first contradiction – that of finding unity between the king and the parties – has not just come from the Europeans, but from the US and India as well. India, in particular, has made the most manoeuvres of late into Nepali political life with the new Indian foreign minister, Natwar Singh, making Nepal his first foreign visit. ‘It is no coincidence that Nepal is the first country I am visiting after taking office,’ he said. The Indian ruling class is also now openly debating in the Indian media if the time is now right to make a direct military intervention in Nepal just as it did in Bangladesh in 1971 and 1987 and Sri Lanka during the tenure of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The inter-imperialist rivalries concerning Nepal are also now becoming more apparent. The French, Germans and Chinese would like to see the UN as a mediator in Nepal but the US, Britain and India are reluctant about UN involvement and would like to see the Maoist problem solved ‘internally’. By this they mean for Nepal to be under their control directly, not jointly run with other powers. This is something which has been reflected in the arms sales to Nepal, with these three countries, and India in particular again, being by far the biggest suppliers. Bush’s new ambassador to Kathmandu, Michael Malinowski, also claimed the US will add to the $40m in ‘humanitarian assistance’ it has given to Nepal and stated that ‘critics of American policy in Nepal, like France, should put their money where their mouth is’.

The continuing split between the imperialists, the ongoing power struggles between the king and the bourgeois forces and the growing urban and rural resistance by the people to tyranny can only go towards aiding the revolution further. The CPN(M)’s demand for a Constituent Assembly, a politically unacceptable idea among the monarchists and parliamentary parties until a few months ago, has now become an item of national debate. The Maoists have successfully pushed their political agenda and are clearly winning the political war. What remains now is to break the military stalemate with the newly armed Royal Nepalese Army and bring final liberation to the Nepalese people.

Victory to the Nepalese revolution!
Andrew Alexander

FRFI 180 August / September 2004


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