Peace Before Constitution


Sept. 8, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 05 No.-06 Sept. 09-2011 (Bhadra 23,2068)<br>

This government has been formed under the parliamentary process and procedure. Thus, we take this in a usual way. Our party has already made it clear that we will play the role of a constructive opposition. We want consensus on the main agenda but not on particular issues. There must be an agreement on peace process and constitution making.

The process of handing over the keys of Maoist containers is just an initial process. In the past, when Maoist leader Prachanda was the prime minister, he even invited all the foreign dignitaries and declared that Maoist combatants and weapons were no longer with his party. In practice, he continued to play a political role. We want the process of integration in a package. It includes management, rehabilitation, retirement, rank determination and numbers of combatants.  As long as Maoists do not agree on this whole process in a package, I don’t think the peace process will be completed. We hope that Maoists will complete the present peace process within 45 days.

Our party has already welcomed it. So far as peace process is concerned, it must be done under the agreed agendas of past. From twelve points agreement to comprehensive peace agreement and agreement of armed management and interim constitution, we have signed several agreements regarding the peace process. What is lacking in Maoist leadership is the will power. We firmly believe that the peace process must complete before the promulgation of the new constitution.

We are ready to support the Maoist-led government on its every move to logically end the peace process. We will not take any step that will harm the stability of this government. We wish even Maoists can unite to give stability to the government.

The constitution should be based on basic constitutional principles and there must be democracy in context. It is unacceptable for us if the constitution violates the basic principles of democracy. We cannot compromise on fundamental contents of democracy. As all the parties have accepted the content of interim constitution, we can agree if the new constitution is made following the principles laid down in the interim constitution. We firmly believe that parliamentary form is the best form of government in a heterogonous society like ours. If Maoists accept the basic process of liberalism, we will be flexible on the forms of government. So far as state restructuring is concerned, any restructuring must be based on national unity, national integration and harmony. We want provinces not only on the basis of identity but they must have capabilities. We can declare special administrative region, and special autonomous region for various ethnic groups.

Handing over the keys to the Integration Committee is a positive step. However, it is not alone enough to say that Nepal’s peace process is heading towards the process of completion. The key issues like modality for integration, regrouping and numbers are yet to be settled.  Comprehensive Peace Agreement has clearly mentioned that Maoist combatants will be integrated in security agencies as it is clear that Maoist combatants will be integrated in various security agencies including Nepal Police, Nepal Armed Police or any new security agency created by the government.

Nepali Congress has already made its stand clear on the number of combatants to be integrated in the security agencies. Our bottom-line is 5,000. We also have a clear stand that the combatants need to fulfill basic requirements to enter Nepal’s security agencies. We cannot accept mass entry without fulfilling any criteria. The mass entry of politically indoctrinated Maoist combatants will affect the neutrality of Nepali Army and other security agencies. Nepali Congress has also its own stand regarding the compensation for those who want to leave the camps. There are several issues needing to be addressed before integration. 

The process of integration is one of the major components of the peace process.  It is also very tricky. Had Maoist leadership honestly supported the process, it would have been completed a long time back. However, they half heartedly supported it in the past. I don’t think they are honestly working this time also. Since the Maoists have already betrayed twice in the past, I am not sure they will honestly follow this time. The example is so-called differences in the party. This is just an orchestrated design of Maoist to fool the people. Kiran Vaidya and Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai have been harping the same political line.

Nepali Congress will always support any move taken by any party to carry the peace process to a logical end. In this context, Nepali Congress will support the move of Dr. Baburam Bhattarai led government in this regard. We will play a role of responsible opposition and our support to the government will be issue based.  In the last three years, the constitution writing process and peace process could not move because of the insistence of Maoist party. Nepali Congress even supported the first Maoist government led by Dr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. Nepali Congress also supported the previous CPN-UML and Maoist government when it took steps to conclude the peace process.

As the Maoists have betrayed several times in the past, I don’t think the Maoist-led government will sincerely work to conclude the peace process. The five point agreement signed between Madheshi Front and Maoists is against the spirit of peace process as they agreed to release all the prisoners in criminal cases. Nepali Congress has already expressed its own opinion against the pact. Similarly, Nepali Congress has already opposed the Maoist and Madheshi agreement to form the expert committee to decide the issue of state restructuring. Nepali Congress wants to constitute a state restructuring commission as propounded by the Interim Constitution. Our party firmly believes that only such constitutional commission can settle the issue of state restructuring. We want to see meaningful and sustainable federal structure in Nepal and that is possible only through the constitution of the commission.
(KC is Nepali Congress leader. As told to New Spotlight.) 

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