He was portrayed as a hero following Janaandolan II. His critic would be portrayed as a villain. In three years, there has been an image reversal. General Secretary of Nepali Congress KRISHNA PRASAD SITAULA was an influential leader in late Girija Prasad Koirala camp. Sitaula bagged the ticket from a Jhapa Constituency in 1994 with support from late Krishna Prasad Bhattarai. Later he joined Girija Prasad Koirala camp. A lawyer-turned-politician, Sitaula started his political career from a communist-affiliated student group. Now he is in a controversy related to a major corruption scandal, known as Darfur scam. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has filed cases against three former chiefs of police and scores of senior police officers by giving clean chits to three home ministers. Negotiator between the government and Maoists during the conflict period, Sitaula spoke to KESHAB POUDEL on various issues, including the Darfur controversy, peace process and Nepali Congress politics.
What will it be like in the post-August 31 political scenario?
The situation will be like that of May 28 when we extended the tenure of the Constituent Assembly on grounds that we would promulgate the draft of the constitution by August 31.
Political leaders are saying that they will produce the constitution by August 31. Don’t you think they have the capacity to do such a miracle?
Everyone is willing to see the new constitution and shorten the present transition. Leaders are no exception in this regard. The promulgation of a new constitution is not a big deal either. Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and other mainstream parties can write the new constitution within a week.
If that is the case, why do they not promulgate the new constitution?
The problem is not about writing the new constitution. It is the integration of Maoist combatants. Although we have fulfilled all the demands of Maoists, they have not shown any flexibility regarding combatants’ integration. Even nine months after the exit of UNMIN-Maoists are yet to hand over the key of containers to the prime minister. Once the Maoists agree to the modality, numbers, and ranking, we can write the new constitution within a matter of days. Our bottom line is that the integration issue should be settled in a package. Given the present political stalemate on the issue of integration, I don’t think, the new constitution will be promulgated by August 31.
Why do you want to settle it in a package?
We want to maintain professionalism and neutrality of Nepal Army. If we agree on the bulk entry of Maoist combatants, Nepal Army will be politicized. As per the CPA, we cannot do it. We have serious disputes with Maoists on the integration issue.
Do you think Maoists are trying to politicize Nepal Army?
They have already shown that they want to send their combatants in bulk in the army. If there is a bulk entry of 5,000, it will destroy the present structure of Nepal Army. It is unacceptable for us.Maoists need to abide by the recruitment procedures of the security agencies and ranking system. The recent reaction of Maoist leader Prachanda regarding promotion of General Gaurav Sumsher Rana and Nepal Bhushan Chand is also motivated to divide the army.
Why does Prachanda want the promotion of two generals on the same day?
It is clear that they want to play politics in Nepal Army. Maoists have already made efforts to politicize Nepal Army by illegally sacking General Katawal when they led the government.
What is the crux of the problem?
The crux of the problem is that Maoist wants to conclude the peace process by misinterpreting the CPA and the Interim Constitution and we want the conclusion of peace process in accordance with the CPA and the constitution.
You are said to be against the extension of tenure of the CA. Is that true?
It is not true at all. The country’s leading media portrayed me wrongly. My stand is that parties need to fulfill their commitment before extension of the tenure of CA. The tenure of CA has already been extended by 15 months but nothing has taken place. This indicates that we cannot promulgate the new constitution by just extending the tenure all the time.
How do you look at the current conflict in the Maoist party? Will it have any implications to the peace process?
Definitely, the on-going conflict within Maoists will hamper the peace process. At a time when there is a growing pressure on Maoist leader Prachanda, Maoists will harden their stand on integration. Prachandaji is very sincere to the peace process but his weakness is failure to impose the agreement. Maoists have yet to return the confiscated property to the owners. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Disappearance Commission are yet to be set up. Such commissions are required to heal the atrocities taken place during the years of conflict.
Nepal government and Maoist party have made several agreements. Why are not they implemented?
It is unfortunate that Maoist leaders have not shown any sincerity to implement them. Maoist leader Prachanda signed all these agreements but he failed to implement them.
As one of the negotiators of the peace process, how do you look at the present state in the process?
I have to admit the fact that Nepal’s peace process has not moved even a single step throughout the last four years. The last three years’ period following the elections of CA is the worst spent time. Although the tenure of the CA has already been extended twice in the last three years, there is yet to see a progress.
What are the major areas hindering the peace process?
Integration of Maoist combatants is the major stumbling block to thepeace process. Had Maoists abided by the clauses of the Comprehensive Peace Accord, and the 12-point agreement, the peace process would have completed a long time back and the new constitution would have been promulgated a long time back.
What are the demands of Maoists?
Maoists are misinterpreting the CPA and the 12-point agreement. CPAhas clearly mentioned that the Maoist combatants shall be integrated in security agencies of the government of Nepal. This means Maoist combatants are integrated in all security agencies, including Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepal Army. However, Maoists are demanding a bulk entry of their combatants in Nepal Army. Their interpretation is that security agencies mean Nepal Army. This is where we have major differences.
If the integration process remains incomplete, what would be the consequences?
It will delay the promulgation of the new constitution by the Constituent Assembly and logical conclusion of the peace process. The more the process of integration will be delayed; the more possibility will be there for derailment of the peace process. By signing the 12-point agreement, Maoists have already expressed their commitment to liberal, peaceful and competitive democratic system.
Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda signed several agreements, but UCPN-Maoist rarely endorsed it. Do you think this is the problem in the peace process?
This is the problem with the Maoists. It shows that Prachanda’s position is gradually weakening in the party. Instead of signing the agreement individually with Maoist leader Prachanda, now the time has come to sign agreements in an institutional manner with Maoists.
What is the state of the five-point agreement?
Except the extension of the tenure of Constituent Assembly, four points are not implemented. It seems that Maoist leaders are not bothered about integration and the prime minister does not bother about resignation (laugh).
What is your conclusion about the situation?
As reluctance of Maoist party in the integration is delaying everything, I don’t think we will be able to promulgate the new constitution. The ball is in the court of Maoists. If they abide by the agreement and work accordingly on the integration issue, I don’t think writing the new constitution is going to create any problem.
How do you look at the media reporting involving you in Sudan Scam?
I have not been involved in any such scandal or Sudan scam. There is a conspiracy going on to tarnish my image. Nepal Police took the decision in accordance with Nepal Police Welfare Fund regulations of 2052. The matter relating to the release of funds is purely a purview of Nepal Police. The decision was not taken by the ministry and the cabinet.
But there are rumors that political leaders were involved in the scam?
As I have told you that the cabinet and the ministry had nothing to do with the purchasing of reported goods. Nepal Police Welfare Funds does not give any role to them in its internal affairs.