Monday, July 18, 2011

Maoist leaders close to striking deal

KATHMANDU, July 18: After weeks of muscle flexing, the rival factions of the UCPN (Maoist) are close to striking a deal on power sharing, making Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai the party´s prime ministerial candidate and not the leader in parliament and government as was his demand earlier.

“The leaders are yet to finalize the deal, but it is almost sure that they would settle the issues by Monday morning and announce the decisions of the central committee (CC) meeting on Monday afternoon,” said a senior Maoist leader requesting anonymity.

The alliance forged by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya and Bhattarai had demanded that Dahal share the party leadership with other leaders making Bhattarai the party leader in both parliament and government, and Baidya the chief of the party organization.

According to sources, the assurance that he would be made prime minister if the party gets a chance to lead the government is likely to satisfy Bhattarai.

“Shrestha, without whose support the alliance would not have a majority, did not back Bhattarai to immediately replace the chairman as the party leader in parliament. So he had to step back,” said the party leader.

According to sources, Dahal has, however, agreed to meet most of the demands of the alliance. Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha is likely to replace Krishna Bahadur Mahara as the party´s leader in the current coalition, while General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa may head the party´s military wing. Similarly, Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya is likely to take charge of the party organization.

The top office bearers had held a meeting at party headquarters in Paris Danda immediately after the central committee (CC) meeting was postponed for Monday, and discussed the contentious issues in earnest to end the protracted tussles for power within the party.

Leaders say Dahal looked sad during the CC meeting and at the office bearers´ meeting later in the day. “I had rarely seen him so low during my political career,” said a CC member.

Meanwhile, the taskforce headed by leader Dev Gurung, which was formed on Saturday to settle the issue of power sharing, was dissolved on Sunday following a dispute over whether they should recommend ministerial berths only for those who are CA members or others as well.

  Dahal courts Baidya in his document  
  Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal presented his political document on peace process at the party central committee (CC) on Sunday, incorporating the concerns raised by the party hard-line faction led by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya.    

In the document, Dahal has stated that the process of integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants would move ahead alongside the formulation of the national security policy and the process of “democratization” of the security forces, including the Nepal Army (NA).

The party hardliners had demanded the formulation of national security policy and democratization of the NA prior to taking the process of integration and rehabilitation of the 19,000-plus Maoist combatants forward.

Dahal has also stated that the earlier decisions to accept the integration model floated by NA and end security provided to senior party leaders by the PLA personnel would be endorsed by the CC. The PLA security personnel in the service of the party hardliners are yet to return to the cantonments as decided earlier. They have demanded that the decision be endorsed by the CC.

Similarly, “addressing” another demand of Baidya, Dahal´s document states that the party would stress the formulation of plan and timeframe to take the integration process alongside the process of constitution drafting.  

Dahal in his document has stated that the party would push for PLA leadership in the proposed separate directorate under the NA and make the PLA a “combat force”. The NA´s suggestion however was that the government set up a mixed force under its command for relief-and-rescue operations.

The paper, however, remains silent on the number of combatants to be integrated, rank-harmonization and rehabilitation-packages, and the responsibility of the proposed “mixed combat force.”

Dahal´s paper has repeated the party´s old stances on constitution drafting and reiterated that the new constitution should guarantee a forward-looking restructuring of the state.  

The document states that there is almost no possibility of the formation of a Maoist-led government, but that the party would make attempts to form a Maoist-headed coalition government. Dahal states that if the Maoist-led government could not be formed, the party would continue to support the current coalition and begin talks with other parties to forge consensus for the formation of an inclusive government. Besides, the document points out the need for the formation of a high-level political mechanism to oversee the government´s activities. 

On the intra-party contradiction, the document states that all the leaders should make self-criticism for not abiding by the rules made earlier to manage the intra-party disputes.

Besides, Dahal has also proposed to ban party factions from holding separate meetings. He has stated that it would be better to hold joint programs at all levels of the party and resolve the intra-party contradictions in the general convention. Dahal has also accepted that the power imbalance is the reason for the sorry state of affairs in the party. He has also proposed various programs to mobilize the party cadres.

Published on 2011-07-17 23:25:35

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