Nepal’s first ‘guerrilla’ government pledges peace, development

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : Once an armed underground party whose uprising against the state killed over 13,000 people, Nepal’s Maoists Wednesday unveiled the policies and programmes of the first government led by them, pledging peace and development.

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President Ram Baran Yadav, who replaced the former Himalayan kingdom’s powerful king Gyanendra as head of state as a result of the Maoists’ war on monarchy, presented the six-party ruling alliance’s policies and programmes for the current financial year before the constituent assembly, in which the priority is on taking “the peace process to its logical conclusion, creating socio-economic transformation and drafting a new constitution in two years”.

Unveiled four days ahead of new Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s first formal visit to India, the policies also include forming several commissions for economic revolution and social justice and opening negotiations with the warring groups in the Terai plains along the India-Nepal border.

The Maoists’ dreaded People’s Liberation Army, that has been confined to cantonments since the party ended its armed movement in 2006, will be merged with the Nepal Army in six months as per the peace agreement signed between the Maoists and the major parties, including the Nepali Congress (NC) that is now sitting in the opposition.

Prachanda, whose party once opposed capitalism, has now pledged to usher in an economic revolution through “new transitional economic policies” that will focus on “public-private partnership”.

Relinquishing his position as supreme commander of the People’s Liberation Army, Prachanda will now chair a cooperatives board. Also on the anvil are a new industrial policy, social security system, labour commission, state restructuring committee and public supplies and distribution policy.

A land reforms commission will be established to initiate land reforms while the tourism sector will be overhauled on a priority basis.

The coming decade would be the “Decade of Economic Revolution” during which the Prachanda government plans to generate 10,000 MW of electricity. All villages would get electricity connections in the next 10 years while a 40-year energy security policy will be formulated through national consensus.

Prachanda, who will be accompanied to New Delhi by his foreign minister and heads of chambers of commerce, is courting foreign investment in areas like agriculture and health and in sectors where domestic investment is not sufficient.

The National Planning Commission will be restructured in keeping with Nepal’s new identity as a federal republic and new laws will be enacted to implement basic health services and education as fundamental rights.

The Maoist-led government said it will create job opportunities in rural region to stop the flight of young people abroad.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be formed to discover the whereabouts of the over 1,000 people missing in the course of the decade-old Maoist conflict with the security forces.

The government envisions universal adult literacy within two years and plans to make education free up to the end of school.

The new government has also promised to resume talks with Bhutan for the repatriation of the nearly 100,000 Bhutanese refugees of Nepali origin who have been living in Nepal for nearly 15 years since their eviction from their homes.

The Maoists, who once destroyed bridges and infrastructure, have now pledged to rebuild the nation through better road connectivity, railways and improved drinking water supply.