Maoists issue fresh warning to Nepal government
Kathmandu | January 06, 2007 3:15:05 PM IST
Angered by the government's delay in implementing a new statute, Nepal's Maoist guerrillas have given a fresh warning to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, threatening to start a fresh agitation from mid-January.
Maoist supremo Prachanda, who made a surprise visit to remote Dolakha district in northern Nepal, told a meeting Friday that unless the seven-party government implemented the new constitution by the end of the Nepali month of Poush (Jan 14), his party would start a fresh protest movement.
"The Koirala government had promised the new constitution will be implemented," the rebel chief said in Charikot town.
"If the government does not keep its word, we will start a peaceful but strong protest movement with the participation of civil society."
Although the parties and Maoists finalised a new constitution Dec 16, it is yet to be promulgated.
The new statute would further reduce the position of King Gyanendra, who would be replaced as head of state by the prime minister.
The new draft would also pave the way for a new government in which the Maoists would be included.
However, Koirala himself is perceived as trying to block the new constitution.
The veteran politician, who wants the king to remain as head of state, says the rebels would not be inducted in the government till they lay down their arms.
The Maoists have agreed to lock up their arms and soldiers in makeshift camps, which would be supervised by the UN. The monitoring would start from Monday.
But after imposing the arms condition, Koirala is now posing a new objection. He says the new constitution gives dictatorial powers to the prime minister in the new government.
With the fresh tug of war between Koirala and the rebels, it is feared that a key election, to be held by June, could be delayed, adding to Maoist anger and public disappointment.
Both the government and the rebels have already started blaming each other over the possibility that the election could be delayed.
Koirala says the Maoists should allow police posts to re-open. During the decade-old Maoist insurgency, they were shut down in areas where the guerrillas had strongholds. Unless the posts are re-opened, voters would not feel they have security.
After being warned by Koirala that the rebels would be responsible for the poll delay if they did not allow the posts to re-open, the Maoists had to relent.
Prachanda now says the posts can be re-opened in the southern Terai plains but for the hilly areas, the government should consult his party.
Last month, the rebels had shut down Kathmandu Valley for a day and threatened to enforce a two-day general strike if the new constitution was not promulgated within 10 days.
Though they later withdrew the ultimatum, Prachanda's latest warning revives the fear of fresh disruptions.
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