The Maoist slide
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The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) that heads the ruling coalition is fighting a desperate battle to save what it calls Nepal's new identity of a "republic". It has warned any move to weaken or remove caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will lead to the restoration of monarchy, and the loss of all the "achievements" of the 2006 movement.
Bhattarai said publicly any move to bring him down may result in the return of monarchy. No one knows if he was trying to scare rival political parties demanding his resignation or making an accurate political forecast. But it sends across the message that the changes brought about by the 2006 movement are neither institutionalised nor consolidated. The forecast of doom comes in the wake of President Ram Baran Yadav's clear message that Bhattarai should quit, and pave the way for a national unity government to preside over constitution-delivery. The president has also stood firmly against the move initiated by Maoist chief Prachanda to revive the Constituent Assembly instead of fresh polls. Most parties, including the Maoists, are scared of facing the people and, therefore, want the House revived.
The Maoists are largely blamed for the current political and economic mess. Now the UCPN-M faces another tough challenge. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a 233-page report, listing about 30,000 cases of human rights violation during the 1996-2006 conflict spearheaded by the Maoists. Around 9,000 of these are categorised as serious, with some fitting the "war-crimes" description, with both Prachanda and Bhattarai vulnerable to such a probe.
The government quickly "disowned" the report saying, "We were not involved in the preparation of the report". But the Maoists conveniently forgot they have welcomed such practices in the past when the UN body had identified some military and police officials as human rights violators. The table is being turned on the Maoists everywhere. Yet, they are trying to save their turf for which they need to retain power and be able to continue dictating the political agenda. So they fired the first salvo on Thursday, with a message for the president that even he will have to go if he insists on fresh elections.
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