Nepal at crossroads
Himal (1-15 December) said that Nepal has been at the crossroads because the ideas of the King, political parties and the Maoists for a way out of the present crisis have only complicated matters. Expressing difficulties in achieving direct rule, it suggested, "The King had to gear down his ambitions in order to remain a power centre." Even the coalition partners are divided about the idea of peace talks and the elections, the rebels have rejected the peace talks offer completely. As far as the Maoists' demand for constituent assembly is concerned, there needs to be a consensus among all the forces, which is not possible as long as the present political equation remains. It says, "Either the rebels have to win or they will have to reach an agreement with one of the remaining two forces. But the Maoists have neither emerged winners nor have they been so weakened as to surrender or reach an agreement. To go for constituent assembly, the stalemate will have to drag on into a prolonged phase of violence." On reinstatement of Parliament, it said, "our constitution has not envisaged a situation with no parliament for more than six months. The argument that the reinstatement of the house would violate the spirit of the constitution, therefore, is not valid."
Democracy in shambles
Debendra Raj Pandey (Kantipur, 3 December) condemned the political parties' behaviour as royals once they come into the power, and suppression of progressive voices and the zeal of their younger cadres. In Nepal, we haven't experienced the reign of a softened king since 1950. In conclusion, the author says, "we did not make mistakes with multi-party democracy; it is just that we have to learn from our mistakes. The leaders should stop treating the people like their personal property as the kings do." The baton should be handed over to the real representatives of the people who show commitment to the people's welfare. Only a democracy that is not subservient to the monarchy can defeat the Maoists.
Rajdhani (13 December) in its editorial highlighted the people's initiatives and government's negligence in developmental works and says, "besides, the violent Maoist conflict, other factors like political instability, central government negligence and dysfunctional local government bodies are responsible for lack of development." While the situation is depressing, it has also given citizens a chance to be self-reliant and recognize their strengths by getting involved in local development activities. People in Sankhuwasabha and in Makwanpur's Palung valley are constructing road facilities through collecting their own funds and their own man power resources. In Girkhutar of Nuwakot, villagers are working together to promote rural tourism, where the government has neglected this historically and culturally significant district.
Insurgents' political violence
In Dristi (14 December), a report elucidated the feud between the two communist parties Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists and the Unity Centre-Masal, once close allies. Explaining the Maoists violent acts against the Janamorcha Party activists, the report said, "The rebels have crossed the limits of unjustifiable acts, bringing themselves down to the level of Adolf Hitler". Despite torture and killings of the Janamorcha activists, they have bravely mobilized the masses against the rebels in Baglung and Dailekh districts. When all the major political parties are scared to face the Maoists atrocities, the small parties Janamorcha and Unity Centre-Masal had retaliated to protect its party and defend their workers. It said, "no regime can be forever protected by guns" and said the Maoists were aware that even the most powerful regime has bowed down to the power of people. It concluded, "the Maoists can ignore the people's voice if they want to go underground foreverÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ if they want to lead the people in a civilized and law-abiding country, they have to give up their violent, anarchical and anti-people ways."
In an interview in Nepal Samacharpatra (20 December), Maoist chief, Prachanda stated his party's stand on proposed peace talks with the Government and said, "We have never said we will hold talks with the king only. What we meant was that it only makes sense to talk to the one who is in control of the army and the old regime." But he firmly said, "the king will either have to give up his control over the old regime and the army or we won't allow him to remain behind the curtain." Further he added, "we see no point sitting for talks with any one's representativeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ and no use of talks with the feudal government that is there to increase the budget of the royal palace and to bring black law for the royal army, where none of them has people's base." On the demand for external mediation, Prachanda said, "international mediation will result in foreign interference is a fallacious argument of the brokers of imperialists and expansionists." Prachanda suggested, "by the time elections for the constituent assembly are held, the arms of both the sides have to be stopped and in line with the results, the army and arms of both the sides will have to be managedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ and we are confident that the result of the elections of the constituent assembly will be in favour of the republican system."