Dissident parties eye a broader alliance
KATHMANDU, JUN 21 – The 33-party alliance led by the CPN-Maoist is eyeing to form a common front with the other parties who are also opposing the Constituent Assembly elections. A five-member talks team headed by CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung has started dialogues with disgruntled parties, including Ashok Rai-led Federal Socialist Party Nepal (FSPN) and the Federal Democratic Front chaired by Upendra Yadav. Despite joining hands with the 33-party alliance, both Rai and Yadav have been protesting under separate banners.
A broader alliance is likely to strengthen their protests. “Launching protests under different banners has created confusion among the public. It has taken the protesting parties nowhere,” said Pampha Bhusal, CPN-Maoist spokesperson. She said a joint protest will embolden the protesters The talks team is trying to sort out differences, Bhusal said. Although their official demands seem difficult to be met, Yadav and Rai have shown flexibility to a certain extent.
The FSPN chairman said his party could consider participating in the elections if the government okays 60 percent seats under the proportional representation system and 40 percent seats under the direct election. “We don’t have a problem even if the government scraps the provision to nominate 11 members by the Cabinet,” said Rai. “Nothing has been decided so far except feeling the need of a broader cooperation and coordination among all the dissident forces. Everything will be settled very soon.” Pasang Sherpa, a member of the talks panel, said discussions are moving towards a positive direction.
He said even many other fringe parties have been approached to bring them under the Front. “They are also convinced that a joint protest is the only option. The decision to launch a joint agitation is a positive sign. We are concentrating on consolidating our divergent opinions,” said Sherpa. A proposal to that effect is likely to be tabled in a meeting of 42 parties scheduled to be held soon. The 33 parties have been demanding a political government instead of the present non-partisan one as well as annulment of the 11-point and 25-point agreements reached among the four major parties. The alliance is holding a broader interaction on June 23.
Pressure piles on parties to join elections
KATHMANDU: The international community has been pressuring all disgruntled political forces to participate in the next Constituent Assembly election scheduled for November 19. European Union, Japan, United States, Norway, and Switzerland are not only encouraging CPN-Maoist and MJF-N to join the election process, but also piling pressure on them.
Though their language has remained diplomatic, it is not without a warning. “CPN-Maoist might face isolation if they do not take part in the election,” one European envoy recently told THT. Former US President Jimmy Carter was the first international figure to warn the disgruntled parties, mainly the CPN-M about having to face ‘legal action’ if it disrupts the election, during his visit in April. In their meetings with Baidhya and Yadav, European envoys have tried to convince them that election is the only way to do away with the protracted political transition. Indirectly, they have even warned of “consequences” and “isolation” if they disrupt or boycott the democratic process.
“Our message is clear and loud — election is the only democratic process,” a diplomatic source quoted EU envoys as telling the CPN-M leadership. “We call upon you to take part in this process and ensure people’s mandate.” The envoys also made it clear that CPN-M might have the right to boycott the election, but should not campaign against it. Of late, foreign delegates and envoys have made it a point to call on Baidhya. Envoys of EU countries have already met Baidhya thrice in less than three months.
China has observed that CPN-M has no genuine ground to wage another armed insurgency in Nepal, and the party’s only alternative is to start peaceful politics. “The Chinese have conveyed this message very clearly,” said a diplomatic source. In their recent visits to India, UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba were asked by top Indian leaders to put efforts to bring all stakeholders on board the election. Immediately after returning, Deuba met Baidhya and assured he was ready to initiate dialogue on all demands of the CPN-M except dissolution of the election government.
CPN-M, has objected to formation of election government under the chief justice, calling it a severe breach of basic principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. It has held that a party-led-government should hold elections, and for that, a round-table conference is necessary. Yadav-led MJF-N has been demanding that Regmi resign either from the post of Council of Ministers or chief justice. Pampha Bhusal, spokesperson of CPN-M, accepted that the international community had made a clarion call on her party to join the election process.
“But, we asked them whether in their countries, a chief justice simultaneously held the post of prime minister,” she told THT. She also said that foreign envoys or agencies have no right to ask Nepali political parties “to do this or that”. Madhav Ghimire, Minister for Home and Foreign Affairs, told THT that the government was doing its best to ensure the participation of all political forces in the election. “We have been in close contact with CPN-M leadership,” said Ghimire, adding that currently talks are going on to bring them to the negotiation table. “If they come for talks, they will participate in the election as well.”