-  Friday 23 March 2018

Compromise now possible in Nepal peace process: analysts

 -  AFP

Sept 28 2007 -  A decision by Nepal's main party to end its support for the monarchy has paved the way for a compromise with former Maoist rebels that could put the peace process back on track, analysts said.

The peace deal hit a deadlock last week when the Maoists stormed out of an interim government and demanded King Gyanendra and his two-century-old dynasty be immediately axed.

But late on Wednesday, the Nepali Congress party -- the Maoists' main partner in last November's peace deal -- endorsed a republican agenda, ending a traditional position of support for some kind of royal role in the impoverished Himalayan nation.

"There is a possibility now for an opening in the political deadlock," said Narhari Acharya, a senior Nepali Congress official.

He said fresh talks between the seven mainstream parties, all of whom now want a republic sooner or later, and the Maoists would take place on Friday.

"The decision by the Nepali Congress will give a basis for Maoists to come back to the government," he said.

The problem, however, is the timing: the mainstream parties still want the question of the king's future to be decided after elections in November for a body that will rewrite the constitution.

For their part, the Maoists want to immediately call a special parliament session to abolish the monarchy, arguing the king's die-hard supporters are plotting a coup designed to save the palace and need to be stopped.

An analyst with the International Crisis Group, Rhoderick Chalmers, said a parliament vote was now a possibility.

"You can't predict whether a parliamentary recall will happen, but it's one of the more obvious ways out of the current impasse," he told AFP.

"There are quite a lot of signs that some of the politicians would like to do a deal. It's worth keeping an eye on as there are not so many other ways out."

Another possibility, he said, was for the November 22 elections to go ahead as scheduled but with the Maoists being guaranteed a certain number of seats in a new constitutional body.

This would alleviate apparent concerns within Maoist ranks that the election system may be stacked against them.

"There is no point in holding elections without the Maoists. So, for the sake of the peace process, fixing things a bit is not the worst compromise," Chalmers said.

According to political science professor Lok Raj Baral: "All the political parties have more or less committed to a republican set up, so the Maoists have no reason to make a hue and cry."

He added that the Maoists' decision to quit the government may also have been a tactic "to ensure they are allowed a certain number of seats in the election" -- something that could be now on the cards.

The developments also mean the man at the centre of the crisis, King Gyanendra, appears to be well and truly on his way out.

Since the peace deal was signed in November 2006, the unpopular king has hardly moved from a palace outside Kathmandu -- the apparent result of government advice that he keep a low profile away from politics.

Earlier this week he was also sidelined from a centuries-old festival where a child "goddess" traditionally blesses his rule.

It was the first time in the 238-year history of the Shah dynasty that a royal has not been blessed in a ceremony considered in the conservative Hindu-majority nation to be an important seal of approval for the palace.

Gyanendra has always struggled to win widespread public support.

He came to the throne in 2001 after his brother Birendra and most of his family were massacred, according to the official version, by an alcohol and drug-fuelled crown prince Dipendra, who in turn shot himself.

Source : AFP

Other articles by reporter AFP

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