American graffiti

Several leaders of the seven-party pro-democracy alliance on Saturday clarified that the alliance’s parleys with the Maoists should not be misconstrued as an attempt to forge an alliance with them. This followed the American embassy’s November 4 press release saying that it has “noted with alarm the emerging potential for an ‘alliance’ between one or more of the political parties and the Maoist rebels”. The release has reminded the parties of their past statements that they would ‘not enter into any formal relationship with the Maoists’ until the rebels firmly renounced violence. The embassy alleged that the Maoists have ‘done nothing to indicate that they are prepared to abandon violence in the long term…’. It reiterated that the US supports the prevention of a Maoist takeover and that the monarchy and the political parties should ‘re-establish an effective working relationship’ for crisis resolution, for democracy and peace.

However, one is surprised by the fact that the press release has not at the same time reminded the other side to the triangular conflict of its obligations to democracy under the Constitution and to take concrete initiative for peace. The press release hopes the Maoists will enter into peace negotiations, surrender arms and join the political mainstream. But the non-reciprocation of the unilateral ceasefire hardly gives enough grounds for blaming the rebels alone for the lack of interest in finding a peaceful solution. It would be unrealistic too to expect the abandonment of weapons by the rebels until the talks produced positive results. As for joining the political mainstream, almost everybody seems to be confused about what it is supposed to mean in the present circumstances. The signals coming from those in power hardly inspire much hope.

The US seems to have overreacted to the political parties’ decision to start talks with the rebels. Their talks may produce results or they may fail. The seven-party alliance has indeed laid down certain conditions for starting a ‘working alliance’ with the Maoists. This has been their official position; whatever individual leaders may say does not matter much. The US has been clear on its stand on the Maoists, but, sadly, it has been less so on the full reactivation of the 1990 Constitution, and even less so on the broader future political road map for the country, which has generated a lot of interest and debate in the country. Therefore, many in Nepal take the US prescription with a certain degree of circumspection, as US interests and those of the Nepalis do not necessarily coincide.