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Nepal Maoists call stir to coerce government

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu : Undeterred by mounting concern over the postponement of a crucial November ballot and accusations that their strong-arm tactics were to blame, Nepal’s Maoists have vowed to start a “people’s movement” when parliament sits for a special session to put pressure on politicians to vote for them.

On Thursday, when parliament convenes to decide if King Gyanendra should be made a commoner and a new method chosen for the stalled election, the Maoists will begin protests and pickets nationwide. Singh Durbar, where the session is to be held, will be encircled to coerce the legislators to vote for their proposal.

After the Maoists forced Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to call off the Nov 22 election and call a special house session, top leaders of the party met to chalk out their strategy.

Failing to make Koirala abolish monarchy before the election and adopt a fully proportional election system, the guerrillas demanded a special parliamentary session where MPs would be asked to vote on the two demands.

According to Nepal’s constitution, if two-third of the current 327 MPs approve of the proposals, the government would have to implement them.

While the Maoists are the second largest party with 84 members, so far they have the known support of only three more legislators from two fringe communist parties.

To get the required 218 votes, they need to get the support of Koirala’s Nepali Congress, the largest party with 132 MPS, and the Communist party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), which has 83 MPs.

Unless a miracle occurs, the Nepali Congress, which has been all along opposing the two demands, will vote against them in the house. To get the required number, the rebels have begun lobbying with the other parties.

Maoist leaders have decided that cadres will fan out to villages and begin a “people’s awareness” movement to educate them about the blessings of a republic.

The party will also expand its base, said Janadisha daily, the Maoist mouthpiece.

If the parties still refuse to agree to the demand by October-end, the rebels will launch a new “potent people’s movement”, it said

The decision indicates that Koirala has only been able to buy some time and prolong the impasse by calling the house session. He has not moved any closer to a solution with both he and the Maoists refusing to budge from their demands.

Koirala began fresh consultations with Maoist chief Prachanda and UML chief Madhav Kumar Nepal Sunday morning to try reach an understanding.

However, going by the past performance of such consultations, it is doubtful if there would be any breakthrough.

Nepal’s major donors, India, the US and European Union, have expressed disappointment at the poll postponement and expressed hope that the parliament session would be able to come up with a fresh date for the election.

If that fails to happen, Nepal’s image is going to be further tarnished before the international community.

India has already said that repeated postponement of the polls was eroding the legitimacy of the government as well as the peace process.