Amidst much speculation associated with the frequent shuttling of some of the leaders of the seven-party alliance between Kathmandu and New Delhi and also the diplomatic manoeuvering of some members of the international community, the truth has finally been revealed. The alliance and Maoist leaders have signed a 12-point agreement, which may lead to the restoration of peace and democracy. The salient features are: All democratic forces should unite and fight against authoritarian monarchy by creating a storm through the people’s movement and forcibly sweep it away. The strength of the movement should be utilised to restore the House of Representatives, which will form an all-party government to negotiate with the Maoists and hold elections to the constituent assembly.

The Maoists still believe that the best way to resolve the conflict is to hold a political conference of democratic forces and, based on its outcome, to form an interim government, which would hold elections for the constituent assembly. Election will be held under UN observation, which will also monitor the activities of the military wing of the Maoists and also that of the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA). The Maoists commit themselves to the upholding of the values of human rights, multiparty democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law and also pledge to create a conducive environment for the safe return of all the political workers and those displaced during the 10-year period.

Both express a deep sense of remorse and are contrite for their past mistakes and undertake not to repeat the same in future. While pursing the objective of peace, full accord will be given to human rights and press freedom. Both parties will boycott the municipal and general elections announced by the present regime made with the sole purpose of claiming legitimacy to govern. The two parties feel that it is their common duty to maintain friendly relations with the entire international community, especially with neighbouring countries like India and China based on the principles of peaceful coexistence. Through this agreement the two parties also appeal to all democracy and freedom loving citizens to actively support their struggle.

Given that the nation is fighting for its life in the quagmire of the present triangular conflict, this peace accord could be the light under the tunnel. This agreement has, in effect, reduced the current triangular power tussle to a two-way contest, which should be easier to resolve. Everyone should welcome it, as it is silent on the much-vaunted slogan of supplanting monarchy by a republican state. It seems to have accepted the potential existence of constitutional monarchy by default.

As Nepal is a nation of unity in diversity among its various ethnic and religious groupings and also our chequered exercise in democracy in the last 15 years, it is clear that we will need to continue with monarchy as a symbol of unity and stability. Overall, this agreement provides enough grounds to move ahead to achieve our cherished goal of attaining durable peace and functioning democracy. Nevertheless, it seems to contain two contentious elements: the supervision of the RNA and the Maoist militia by the UN during the elections and the holding of assembly elections. We should recall that the RNA was initially mobilised to contain the destructive and terrorist activities. It is illogical to put the Maoist militia and the RNA on the same footing since one is a rebellious rag-tag outfit working to oust a democratic regime in terrorist style and the other an authorised custodian of national security. As regards the assembly poll, which seems to be a meeting point, it is important that this should be acceptable to the King as well. Given the silent acceptance of constitutional monarchy, it would be reasonable to expect that the King would also be amenable to the prospects of a constituent assembly that would draft the new constitution if constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy were contained as its fundamental and inalienable elements.

The resolution of the conflict, in the words of Pradip Giri, a political ideologue, will depend upon the willingness of the King to remain genuinely constitutional, the Maoists’ willingness to put down their arms and the parties’ willingness to atone for their past blunders and their capacity to exercise internal democracy. Much will also depend on how sincerely and effectively the Maoists and the parties will implement this agreement and how the King perceives this new development. At this critical juncture in history, the King should exhibit great sagacity by keeping national interest uppermost and work in accordance with the will of the people to have permanent peace and security. Towards this end, it would be wise to hold a national political conference which will include the Maoists to chart out a road map that would lead us to lasting peace, democracy and prosperity and implement its recommendations.

Thapa is a Mahasamiti member, NC(D)