There you’re

Maoist chairman Prachanda, in a press statement on Wednesday, let the government re-establish police posts in the Terai immediately, and in the hilly areas gradually based on consultations between the government and his party. He has told his party ranks, and also appealed to the general people, to cooperate in creating a congenial atmosphere for the VDC secretaries to do the work related to the (constituent assembly) elections and workers of the political parties for unobstructed political campaigning. This changed stance of the Maoists has ended the recent cycle of accusations and counter-accusations flying between the Maoists and government leaders, including Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. But this new Maoist position comes with a rider — it is directly linked to the three acts the government must perform: promulgation of the interim constitution and the formation of the interim government at the earliest and the holding of the CA polls in June.

Of late, Koirala and some of his subordinates had been warning that if the Maoists did not demonstrate flexibility on police posts and VDC secretaries, the CA polls would have to be delayed. The government had been giving the impression that the Maoists were solely to blame. Be that as it may, the Maoists’ argument could not be easily brushed aside. The spirit of the agreements between the two sides called for the dissolution of the Maoists’ “people’s governments” and for the state to resume its governing role in the villages along with the three interim arrangements — the interim statute, the interim legislature and interim government. The Maoists’ opposition to the government’s stance was based on this consideration. The delay on the government’s part to move fast on these three commitments on the one hand and its insistence that the Maoists concede more sowed suspicion in the latter’s minds about the former’s intentions with respect to the CA polls.

Even CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal has reiterated his doubts on this score. Therefore, Nepal on Wednesday called for a high-level meeting of the eight political parties to fix a date for promulgation of the interim statute. Indeed, further delay could necessitate postponement of the polls. The government’s condition for promulgation — commencement of the arms monitoring work — is on the point of being fully met, as UN monitors have started coming in and ex-Gurkhas have been interviewed for the task. By meeting the government’s requests, Prachanda went a step further than was absolutely necessary under the agreements in order to foster the atmosphere for the elections. By doing so, he has also shifted the onus to the PM for the CA polls in June — a task if not carried out could create serious misunderstanding and problems, as Prachanda has warned that if the interim constitution and the interim parliament are not announced in time, “the justification of this decision of ours will end and the government will be responsible for the consequences”. Now Koirala should keep his part of the bargain.