Nepal - The collapse of the "Peace Talks" and the impasse facing the workers and peasants

Friday, 03 October 2003
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Last month we witnessed mass protests against the self-appointed Nepalese government and the collapse of the "Peace Talks" that had started back in January of this year.On August 28 security forces in Nepal were on alert after Maoist rebels announced they were withdrawing from the ceasefire and after a senior army officer had been shot dead by the guerrillas. This was the first casualty in the new wave of clashes.

Last month we witnessed mass protests against the self-appointed Nepalese government and the collapse of the "Peace Talks" that had started back in January of this year.

On August 28 security forces in Nepal were on alert after Maoist rebels announced they were withdrawing from the ceasefire and after a senior army officer had been shot dead by the guerrillas. This was the first casualty in the new wave of clashes.

Now, one month later the total number of Maoists that have been killed has reached the three hundred mark, together with another three hundred or so injured in clashes with the security forces after the rebels had broken the ceasefire. The armed conflict which has been going on for more than six years has claimed about 500 deaths a year. This in a nation of 24 million people. But last year, the war between the Maoist guerrillas and the royalist troops exploded tenfold, claiming 4,655 lives.

An Army Spokesman, Col. Dipak Gurung, claims that the Army has made major gains while the rebels have suffered big setbacks. He also added that the Maoists have targeted innocent civilians in their attacks after having suffered these setbacks.

According to the government, altogether 29 soldiers have been killed and 58 others have been injured in the clashes. The government death toll figures do not include civilian and armed police casualties.

What it is clear is that the breakdown in the talks has helped the Government, which has been under heavy pressure from a massive wave of protests, to hang on a little longer.

Just after the collapse of the talks, both the Government and the Maoist Guerrilla leaders were expressing their sorrow as if neither side had anything to do with it. "A statement issued by government spokesperson and Minister for Information and Communications Kamal Thapa termed the rebel decision a ‘serious blow’ to the peace process and an unfortunate development. At the same time, Thapa expressed the government's preparedness to face any eventuality while criticising the Maoists for [their] ‘evil intention’ in resuming murder and violence." It is also mentioned that the Maoist Chairman Prachanda also reiterated his party's willingness to resume the dialogue "to protect people's sovereignty and their fundamental interests", and appealed to people both within and outside the country to help create an atmosphere conducive for the talks. (From the Nepal News, August 27).

On the other hand the Communist Party (UML) continued its campaign against the anti-democratic and self-appointed Government. Leading the "Democratic Forces", the CPN (UML) at the beginning of September started a four-day national campaign against the Government with the other parliamentary parties. Political parties are demanding that the monarch, who ascended the throne after a 2001 palace massacre, reinstate the parliament dissolved last year or appoint their nominee as prime minister.

After the mobilisations about 400 supporters of Nepal's five main political parties were detained, most of them militant activists of the CPN (UML) which has a majority in the anti-government movement, as they defied a ban and rallied to demand King Gyanendra sack a royalist prime minister and appoint a new government. The CPN (UML) has been trying to persuade the international community of the rightness of their "cause" against the anti-democratic Government, with little success so far.

The situation in Nepal is worsening as each day goes by and the Government feels confident that it can both smash the guerrillas and also suppress the demonstrators. The fact is that the economic situation is as bad as ever. The extremely pessimistic economic forecasts of the IMF are blaming the collapse of the talks for the worsening economic crisis. What they ignore is that the Nepalese economy, under the yoke of imperialism, has not been able to develop for the last 50 years or so. It is precisely this social and economic situation that provides a good recruiting ground for the guerrillas.

The Nepalese situation is a tragic one. The Maoist guerrillas are in a blind alley. They survive but cannot overthrow the rotten semi-feudal, semi-capitalist regime. They cannot offer any real solution to the Nepalese masses, to the workers and the youth. Neither are they proving capable of solving the problems of the peasants. However, the CPN (UML) based in the cities is also in an impasse. It clings to the failed policy of two-stages, of backing some imaginary "progressive" wing of the national bourgeoisie. By so doing they are putting a brake on the mass movement. They should break with the bourgeois opposition and build a united front of workers’ organisations based on a genuine socialist programme. This is the only way of attracting the overwhelming majority of the mass of workers and peasants to their banner, and thus gather the forces for the overthrow of the current corrupt government, and lay the basis for a genuine workers’ government to come to power. There is no middle road.