Maoist strong arm going out of control before Nepal polls

April 7th, 2008 - 3:54 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 7 (IANS) Though Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas agreed to yet another pact not to attack rivals, there is growing indication that their strong arm, which includes former combatants, is spiralling out of control of the central leadership and could be a serious threat to Thursday’s election or its aftermath. Three communist parties were inking a pact in the capital Monday, which promises not to attack contestants from one another’s party in a bid to clamp down on the growing violence among the political parties in the run-up to the critical constituent assembly election.

Maoist supremo Prachanda, who is fighting his first election Thursday, former deputy prime minister and chief of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) Madhav Kumar Nepal, and a minor Left party close to the Maoists, Communist Party of Nepal-Unity Centre (Masal), were persuaded to sign the agreement by Nepal’s leading communist intellectuals.

The pact comes less than a week after the three dominant partners in the ruling alliance - Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Maoists signed a deal with much fanfare, agreeing to the same thing.

However, despite the pacts, reports of violence have been pouring in.

CPN-UML has filed a complaint with the election commissioner, alleging 98 incidents of attacks and intimidation by its peers.

While the Nepali Congress has been named in attacks on its poll meets in two districts, the Maoists have been held responsible for 96 attacks.

The Young Communist League (YCL), the strong arm of the Maoists, has been on the warpath soon after the guerrillas signed a peace pact. They have been known to take the law into their own hands and arbitrarily punish “miscreants”, the “corrupt” and royalists.

Even on Monday, they continued to attack UML cadres in Kavre district.

In Ramechhap, a Maoist stronghold, they were reported to have torched two vehicles belonging to CPN-UML contestant A. Sherpa and in Sindhuli prevented the public from attending CPN-UML rallies.

Various independent observers assessing the law and order situation, like the UN and Carter Center, have also come down on the former rebels, holding them responsible for most violations of the election code of conduct.

The post-election scenario is also fraught with tension.

The top Maoist leaders have been repeatedly saying that they would start another movement or storm the royal palace if their party was denied victory.

Election observers have noted that the some of the Maoist cantonments, where the guerrilla People’s Liberation Army was to have been corralled till the election, are empty.

The spectre of armed combatants roaming freely stalks the election.

The Maoists have to also convince the international community that they mean peace and will not resume arms.

While Nepal’s northern neighbour China remains inscrutable, India has already indicated it prefers Koirala and his Nepali Congress.

India’s National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan told a television station last month: “We’re unsure as to where we stand with regard to the Maoists despite professions on both sides that we can work together”.

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