No change in Nepal Maoists’ status for now: USMay 7th, 2008 - 10:14 am ICT by admin
By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 7 (IANS) The United States says there is no change in the status of Nepal’s Maoist party even as the once underground party is poised to lead the new government after its victory in the elections last month. “I don’t think there’s any change - there’s no change in their status,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Tuesday when asked if the Communist Party of Nepal Maoist (CPN-Maoist) would now be removed from the terrorist list.
Asked if this meant that the party would remain on Washington’s list of terrorist organisations, he said: “Well, there’s a particular listing, and I don’t have in front of me exactly what it is. But there’s not - at this point, there’s no change in their status.”
McCormack offered no comment on a meeting May 1 between US Ambassador to Nepal Nancy Powell and Maoist chief Prachanda in the first formal US contact with a party it still considers as a terrorist organisation.
Though the US accepted the April poll verdict that favoured the Maoists, Washington remains doubtful about the former guerrillas.
However, a senior US official did indicate last week that Washington would seek “legitimate reconciliation and reintegration politically” in Nepal after the Maoists’ election victory.
“In any terrorist organisation or any terrorist situation, if there is a way for reconciliation legally and lawfully through the political system, obviously, we prefer that,” Dell L. Dailey, coordinator of the Office for Counter-terrorism said.
“And there are places where that’s taking place already,” he said briefing reporters on the State Department’s annual terrorism report. “It is taking place in Nepal, although it’s had some ups and downs.”
“But we prefer a legitimate reconciliation and reintegration politically long before we go after and try and do a coordinated, integrated, with host nation military action,” he said when asked how the US planned to deal with the new situation in Nepal.
Dailey’s remarks were the first indication of a US rethink of its Nepal policy following the Maoists’ election victory. Other officials too have hinted at the possibility of a review, but have declined to spell it out in so many words.
Washington still regards the CPN-Maoist as a terrorist group although the group formally laid down weapons in 2006 and joined Nepal’s interim coalition government last year. Officials have pointed to “legal hurdles” in taking the Maoists off the list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organisations.
After the Maoist victory, the State Department chose to merely congratulate “the people of Nepal on their historic Constituent Assembly election” with no reference to the outcome.
The bland first reaction made no reference at all to the Maoist party, leave alone giving any indication of a rethink of the country’s Nepal policy, which has for long considered preventing a Maoist takeover a key to achieving US regional goals.
The new terrorism report acknowledged Nepal experienced no significant acts of international terrorism in 2007, but said “several incidents of domestic terrorism and politically-motivated violence occurred in urban areas and in the Terai.”
The report alleged “Despite ending their ten-year insurgency by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in November 2006, and entering into the interim government in April 2007, the Maoists, the only US-designated terrorist organization in Nepal, continued to engage in violence, extortion, and abductions.”