After reaching a landmark deal with the political parties that would essentially nullify any powers to King Gnanendra, albeit temporarily, Nepali Maoist guerrillas called for a nationwide strike to protest against the government’s nomination of new ambassadors to 13 foreign capitals. Announcing his decision to call for a strike December 31 and January 1, 2006, Maoist Chairman Prachanda said that he hoped to stop the seven-party alliance (SPA) government making “anti-people and anti-peace agreement decisions.” He said that the government should instead “move towards holding the constituent assembly elections by mid-June by endorsing” an “interim constitution.”
As a prelude in what is in store for the government, about 1000 guerillas poured out of makeshift cantonments in two eastern districts near the Indian border and terrorized the public with a display of weapons. Waving red flags, the student wing of the organization blocked capital roads, burnt tires, smashed windows of cars that dared to ply on the roads, and burnt two motorcycles during a snap 6 hour curfew.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala announced the names of ambassadors to 13 nations including the United States, India, Britain, Japan, Russia and China and Prachanda claims that this decision was “going against the agreements reached in the past” which he says are “serious in nature.” He lamented that this is despite his party showing “maximum flexibility in reaching the agreements” in order to ensure “progress, peace, and democracy” but thinks that the SPA sees their “flexibility” as “weakness” and hence they “have given the 10-day ultimatum to the government.” He says that the “envoys were nominated without consulting” the Maoists and that it was a “unilateral action” that “could jeopardize the peace process.” Apparently, the plum postings were shared between Koirala’s Nepali Congress and the second-largest partner in the alliance, the Communist party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML). Another leftist party, People’s Front Nepal, whose leader is the Deputy Prime Minister also stormed out of the cabinet meeting protesting the appointments without the Maoists joining the government. However, some skeptics who have studied divisive Nepal politics say that that is because this party’s cadre did not get any substantial postings and is using the Maoists to make a point.
The threat to resume the violence in the so-called “people’s war” that has killed 12,500 people (mostly civilians and by the Maoists), is a jolt to the SPA politicians who thought they could control the terrorists through dialogue, negotiations, and accommodation of power sharing. As has been seen everywhere, Maoists do not believe in sharing power and will not stop at anything till they assume complete power at the point of a gun. The current deal allows the Maoists 22% of the 330 seats in the Parliament in return for their placing their weapons under United Nations supervision. Even this extreme generosity for a group that has control over population only because of their weapons has not influenced them to dilute their destructive potential.
While the SPA, which is now riding the Maoist tiger, should have consulted them on the envoys, they would no doubt now realize the seriousness of their personal danger or the nature of the parties with whom they have partnered.