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14.03.2009 Feature Article

Conflict in Nepal: Where is the end?

Nepal, the founding member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), presently facing problems as conflict has been raised between the National Army (NA) and Maoist Guerilla i.e. the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Currently Maoist politicians are leading the government, who were engaged in an armed conflict for 12 years.

Recently, military wing of CPN-Maoist, the party in power, stands against party high command and government leadership.

CPN-Maoist has come into state power after decade-long guerilla warfare against the royal rule through a popular vote. Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, the sitting prime minister of the country, was the political leader of CPN-Maoist and military commander of PLA, led the war against the monarchy. As of a peace agreement, PLA was rounded up in few camps and parliamentary election was held in due course. Maoist got the majority in six hundred plus Nepal Parliament.

As of accord signed among the parties, the then government and Maoists, PLA members were been committed to absorb in NA or any other law enforcing armed agencies, though the issue remained unaddressed yet.

By the time National Army started recruiting, the process agitated PLA members living in different camps. This crisis is not only a politico-military issue of the nation, but also a socio-political and economic issue that deeply rooted in the social structure.

This sticky situation was surfaced while Chief of NA started recruiting new troops, this initiative was being fiercely opposed by the PLA Chief and Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal, who threatened to sack the NA chief if the recruitment continued. PLA said that if the army can recruit, they too will do so.

There are over 19,000 fighters listed as PLA troops besides an unlisted number of supporters. Prachanda, who survived a challenge to his leadership in the party last year, now is now facing a grave threat from the rebellious PLA, who are getting increasingly frustrated. They have been living in primitive cantonments for three years with a promise that they would find a berth in the NA. However, almost three years later, their future remains uncertain with the army as major parties are opposing their induction into the NA.

As said, the issue has a strong root in the age-old structure of Nepali society. In terms of differences in wealth and access to political power, Nepalese society could be divided into a small ruling elite; a growing, intermediate-sized group of government officials, large landholders, and merchants; and the vast majority of the population, consisting of a peasant base. The NA represents the ruling elites and landholders and also supported by the government officials. But PLA members are mainly came out from the peasants of vast rural Nepal. A few of them are from educated youths, who are politically and philosophically convinced that Maoism is only the philosophy of emancipation and armed struggle is only the way to establish Maoism. Participation in general election and holding the chair of prime minister by the chief of party in a capitalist State structure is contradictory to the political stand of CPN-M. Most of the grassroots leaders of CPN-M feel that bi-standard position is also making the young stars agitated.

It has been learnt that Prachanda reached an undisclosed agreement with the NA and announced that the state army will stop additional recruitment but keep the new appointments it has already made.

This crisis in Nepal drives us to remember the grouping and regrouping of Indian communist party and communist parties in Bangladesh. This process of grouping-regrouping caused many lives especially from the young flock. Nepal experienced a 12-years long bloodshed. Now the situation is heading to an intra-party bloody conflict in CPN-M, we should say. So, question is that is Nepal has the capability to tolerate any bloodshed again?

Mohoshin Abbas
Mohoshin Abbas, © 2009

This author has authored 26 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MohoshinAbbas

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