Kiss me Kate

It is not surprising that the United States has warned the mainstream political parties against joining forces with the Maoists. This is not the first time US ambassador James F Moriarty has issued such a warning. At a talk programme in the capital on Wednesday, he repeated the American position that the King and the parties should come together and together they should counter the Maoists. This is the best way of dealing with the Maoists and strengthening democracy in Nepal, according to Moriarty. This the Americans have been urging for the past three and a half years, ever since the King dismissed the elected government and took over all executive power. This lies at the root of the collision between the palace and the parties.

But, sadly, the US has remained vague on what exactly it means by ‘reconciliation’. For the Nepalis, it is acceptable only if it means the full restoration of the sanctity of the 1990 Constitution, and it, in turn, means that the political parties should be governing the country on behalf of the sovereign people. The recent Supreme Court verdict on the anti-corruption royal commission has left no doubt about where sovereignty and the source of all state powers lie. We hope Moriarty’s prescription for reconciliation is not meant to weaken these fundamental provisions of the Constitution, an epitome of the 1990 pro-democracy movement. Besides, the political parties, bitten more than once over the past half-century, are not agreeable to unconditionally share Moriarty’s feeling towards the palace.

As for the Maoists, they have made clear their bottom line of constituent assembly, so have the political parties, as reflected in their 12-point agreement. Many people still entertain doubts about the ultimate intentions of the Maoists, so the rebels are yet to prove their bona fides in full. That is why it is time to call their bluff by offering them talks aimed at a political settlement within a universally accepted democratic framework. The Maoists themselves have called for an international role, preferably of the UN, for the purpose, but, unfortunately, the US, a country that wields a veto at the UN, does not favour such an idea. This and other American positions have raised doubts in the public mind about American foreign policy intentions in Nepal. The Nepalis know the pre-October 4 (2002) palace-parties unity could not bring about peace. Therefore, a broader democratic solution appears to be the only sensible way. The international community can easily ensure, if it wants, that the Maoists play the game.