A frolic of his own

Things appear to be moving in the right direction after the historic November 8 agreement between the SPA and the CPN-Maoist. Homework is reported to have reached advanced stages on the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement. A detailed pact on weapons management is being stressed in order to enable the UN to perform its monitoring role in an effective manner, as the UN will not have the mandate to enforce the pact but only to notify the parties concerned and the international community of any breach. A joint team of the government, Maoists and UN representatives has already started inspecting the sites proposed for determining and then stationing the People’s Liberation Army. As the deadlines for the implementation of the provisions of the deal, such as the formation of the interim legislature and the interim government, seem to be short, the peace preparations need literally to be speeded up on war footing.

These requirements have put added responsibility on the SPA, the Maoists, and other important actors, to make sure that the goal embodied in the agreement is achieved on schedule. At least till the constituent assembly (CA) polls, the eight parties would be serving their and the nation’s interests by working in unison instead of taking one another as rivals. Certainly, in a pluralistic parliamentary democracy, the parties compete. But the CA polls would not see a change of government. If on the one hand, the eight political parties would have to remain faithful to their commitments, on the other, they would be smoothing the way for constitution-making by evolving a consensus on as many areas as possible — monarchy, participatory nature of democracy, and basic features of the new polity, including the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and the security forces.

But some signs of rivalry are emerging. One is the squabble over the question of who will be heading the interim government. Soon after Maoist chairman Prachanda supported the Girirja Prasad Koirala for interim premiership, SPA leaders such as CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal and NC-D president Sher Bahadur Deuba hastened to contradict him by saying that the SPA is yet to decide on the nominee. However, the Maoists claim that an understanding on the matter has already been reached, even while signing the 12-point accord. The SPA is free to decide on the matter, or anybody who is not satisfied with Koirala may lay a claim to the post in the interim legislature. Another CPN-UML leader alleged collusion between the NC and the CPN-M, and yet another boasted of his party “not bargaining hard” for interim legislature seats while accusing the Maoists of getting more, though unelected, through haggling. It is now meaningless to brag about the electoral results of eight years ago; the ground realities are the ones that matter. Each of the eight parties signing the total political package should have a sense of history and rise above petty rivalries and jealousies to cope with the major challenges ahead to give the nation a sense of clear direction for peace, democracy and good governance.