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Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands? International Crisis Group 2009-08-13

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Asia Report N° 173 - 13 August 2009
Crisis Group
A. Riding for a Fall 3
B. Outflanked and Outgunned 4
C. Constitutional Coup de Grace 5
D. Adieu or Au Revoir? 6
A. Maoist Rule: More Ragged than Ruthless 7
B. The Video Nasty 9
C. The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning? 11
A. War by Other Means 13
B. State Army or Army State? 15
C. Straining at the Bit 16
D. The Sacred and the Profane 17
A. Chinese Whispers 19
B. Fears and Frustrations 21
C. Delhi's Disarray 22
D. Regaining Direction 23
A. New Regime, Old Problems 24
B. Parties beyond Parody 26
C. UNMIN: Unloved but Essential 28
A. Cope with Change on All Fronts 31
B. Strengthen the State's Capacity and Legitimacy 32
C. Halt Mlitarisation 34
D. Work on Demilitarisation 35
E. Stop Spoiling the Spoilers 36
A. Map of Nepal 39
B. Glossary of Acronyms 40
C. About the International Crisis Group 41
D. Crisis Group Reports and Briefings on Asia Since 2006 42
E. Crisis Group Board of Trustees 45
 Crisis Group
Asia Report N°173
13 August 2009
Nepal's peace process is in danger of collapse. The fall
of the Maoist-led government, a mess largely of the
Maoists' own making, was a symptom ofthe deeper
malaise underlying the political settlement. Consensus
has steadily given way to a polarisation which has fed
the more militaristic elements on both sides. While all
moderate politicians still publicly insist that there is
no alternative to pursuing the process, private talk of a
return to war - led by generals ofthe Nepalese Army
who have never reconciled themselves to peace - has
grown louder. Outright resumption of hostilities remains
unlikely in the short term but only concerted efforts to
re-establish a minimal working consensus and a national
unity government including the Maoists can avert the
likelihood of a more dangerous erosion of trust. Strong
international backing, with India eschewing short-term
interference in favour of longer-term guardianship of
the process it itself initiated, will be essential.
The immediate cause ofthe Maoists' departure from
government on 4 May 2009 was their bungled attempt
to dismiss the army chief. As the consent for action
that they had secured from coalition partners unravelled
under external pressure, they pushed ahead unilaterally. Their legally dubious sacking order prompted an
even more contentious intervention by the ceremonial
president to countermand it. Maoist leader Prachanda
quit on grounds of principle; the question of the balance of power between prime minister and president
remains in dispute.
The Maoist resignation made the formation of a new
administration an urgent necessity and, by Nepal's standards, the transition was relatively prompt and smooth.
However, the new government, led by the centrist
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist),
UML, is inherently unstable and incapable of addressing the most pressing challenges. Backed by 22 parties,
it is yet to take full form and its major constituents are
internally riven. Many UML leaders are openly sceptical ofthe new government, while the Madhesi lana-
dhikar Forum (MIF) is now formally split. Between
them, they have achieved the unlikely feat of making
the Nepali Congress (NC) look the most cohesive and
internally democratic ofthe non-Maoist parties.
The Maoists had not proved as effective in power as
many had hoped. Moreover, they alienated two important constituencies: India (both by appearing to make
overtures towards China and by refusing to become
a pliant, moderate force) and the Kathmandu upper
middle classes (by making them pay taxes and failing
to deliver basic services, in particular electricity). Yet
their main problem is their own refusal to give clear
and credible assurances on their commitment to political pluralism and non-violence. Prominent ideologues
within the party have given added credence to the
argument that they will never alter their strategic goal
of state capture and de facto totalitarian rule. In response, the leadership's insistence that the party has
embraced multiparty democracy has been less than
fully convincing.
On the other side, the army has adopted a more overt,
assertive political role. It is encouraged and supported
by many who see it as the only credible opposition to
the Maoists. It not only survived the republican transition but has thrived. Helped by timorous parties, it has
successfully pushed for a substantial budgetary increase, protected its de facto autonomy, retained its
full strength and pressed for new lethal arms imports -
in breach ofthe ceasefire.
Behind much of the recent instability lies an Indian
change of course. New Delhi framed the peace deal
and acted as its de facto guarantor, pressing all parties
to comply with its terms. Never able to digest the
Maoist victory and uncomfortable with popular demands
for change, it has pursued increasingly interventionist
tactics through proxies in Nepali political parties while
continuing its policy of ring-fencing the army as the
most reliable bastion against Maoist takeover or anarchy.
Its resolute opposition to all but token People's Liberation Army (PLA) integration has unbalanced the
peace equation without offering any alternative.
The background against which Kathmandu's incestuous intrigues are played out is neither stable nor unchanging. Public security remains weak, alarmingly so
in several areas. Local governance remains patchy at best
and non-existent in places. Peace committees bringing
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page ii
together parties and civil society representatives are
functional in some districts but lack a coherent agenda.
Identity-based and other newer political movements
are impatient with a constitutional process that, while
not stalled, looks less and less likely to deliver a
broadly acceptable new constitution on schedule. Civil
society, a crucial force in the early stages ofthe peace
process, is divided and demoralised.
India's perceived partisanship has not helped international cohesion. From being the leader of the pack,
successfully lining up other international players behind its strategy, it has become something of a lone
wolf. It continues to criticise the UN mission, whose
credibility was dented by a videotape showing Maoist
leader Prachanda boasting that he had duped them into
accepting vastly inflated PLA numbers. The UN would
like to claim success and get out but cannot refuse requests to monitor arms as long as the situation - over
which it has no direct influence - remains unresolved.
In the meantime its role in preserving a fragile peace
and affording Nepal some shelter from total Indian
domination is under-appreciated.
Donors are keen to return to normal development activities and have been willing to fund the peace process. But their patience is wearing thin, conditions for
business as usual are yet to materialise and international funding is subsidising a bloated and unafford-
able security sector. The army alone far outnumbers
the national civil service; it, cantoned PLA combatants and the paramilitary armed police are of no use in
addressing the basic need for law and order.
It is true that all parties are still talking and there is a
tradition of last-minute deals to stave off disaster. The
same could happen again. But that should not obscure
the fact that the rifts between the major players have
grown wider and the grounds for compromise narrower. Averting a slide back to conflict will require a
clear-sighted recognition ofthe dangers, genuine cooperation between Nepal's parties to address them and
much more solid international backing for the process,
starting with a decisive lead from India.
To All Political Actors Party to the Peace and
Constitutional Processes:
1.   Recognising that political consensus and a broad-
based government are essential to the peace process,
a) work without delay to form a national unity government, acknowledging that the democratic
mandate to lead it still rests with the Maoists;
b) give shape to the proposed high-level political
coordination committee for purely peace process-
related issues, ensuring it has a clear agenda,
regular meetings and the necessary support to
monitor and implement decisions;
c) prioritise cooperation at the local level, in particular by working together to make local peace
committees effective bodies for dispute resolution and pursuit of reconciliation;
d) work urgently towards a deal on the long overdue re-establishment of local government bodies
or all-party mechanisms alongside formation of
a national government; and
e) put in place an overall peace process monitoring mechanism.
2. Build confidence by:
a) adhering to the principle of consultation and
consensus, focusing on practical measures to
monitor and implement existing agreements;
b) recognising that unfulfilled commitments on all
sides have contributed to a loss of trust and
agreeing that reciprocity will be needed to
move forward;
c) addressing the serious and substantive concerns
over the president's role by agreeing a clarification of his powers and ensuring his ceremonial office does not become a competing political power centre;
d) dealing with critical areas unaddressed by past
agreements, in particular by developing plans
for broader demilitarisation of armed groups,
criminal mafias and party youth militias, not
just the PLA; and
e) keeping the constitutional process on track and
minimising the knock-on effects of delays that
have already occurred.
3. Support the Army Integration Special Committee
(AISC) in its task of determining options for the
integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants by:
a) cooperating in reconstituting the AISC, recognising the need to offer balanced representation
to major parties and to move promptly to substantive discussion ofthe major sticking points;
b) encouraging the technical subcommittee to continue its work while recognising that it is not in
a position to resolve major political questions;
c) clarifying requests for international support to the
AISC and its technical subcommittee, in particular by fully exploiting the capacity ofthe United
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page iii
Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) to channel
technical assistance; and
d) tackling the most contentious questions, in particular by discussing the numbers of combatants
that could be integrated into the Nepalese Army
or other forces, seriously considering benchmarks and timetables for substantive progress
and being realistic about the near impossibility
of meeting the latest six-month deadline.
4. Make the most of international assistance, bearing
in mind the risks of fading patience, by:
a) making full use ofthe UN and other international
actors' good offices as well as facilitating the
work of UNMIN and ensuring it can complete
its role in Nepal as soon as possible;
b) setting and adhering to benchmarks to achieve
this, offering international backers evidence of
progress and more solid indications that remaining elements ofthe peace deal are moving
towards implementation; and
c) demonstrating in practice that unity across parties is the best way of preventing external intervention and prolonged, potentially intrusive,
political engagement.
5. Cooperate in boosting the legitimacy of the state
and political parties by:
a) increasing internal democracy, building on successful examples such as the internal elections
carried out by the UML's general convention
and the Nepali Congress's parliamentary party;
b) bringing an end to party youth wings' illegal
activities, developing local mechanisms to ensure inter-party disputes do not lead to violent
clashes and denouncing the use of violence for
political ends;
c) without barring constructive debate, using party
disciplinary measures to rein in senior leaders
who make destabilising public comments that
undermine the peace process; and
d) putting repeated commitments to greater inclu-
siveness and socio-economic transformation into
practice, paying particular attention to the prospects for establishing new standards for implementing the goals of UN Security Council
resolution 1325 on women's participation in
To the Government of Nepal:
6. Abide by the constitutional requirement to take important decisions on the basis of consensus among
the major parties, including those not in government.
7. Address public security concerns by recognising
that political consensus is essential to restoring law
and order and using all appropriate mechanisms,
national and local, to build all-party support for
effective policing and ending of political interference in operational matters.
8. Address critical questions of justice and impunity
by pursuing investigations and prosecutions, responding substantively to the most serious documented allegations of war crimes and basing new
legislation on disappearances and the truth and
reconciliation commission on wide consultation
and international standards.
9. Demonstrate commitment to establishing effective
democratic control over the Nepalese Army (NA)
and respecting the provisions of the November
2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and
Interim Constitution (IC) by:
a) bringing the NA under meaningful democratic
control, including establishing parliamentary
oversight, fully auditing expenditure and developing the constitutionally mandated work plan
for democratisation and right-sizing ofthe army;
b) respecting the unambiguous ceasefire commitment to refrain from recruitment and weapons
c) carefully considering the conflict and development risks of increasing security budgets and
focusing instead on fulfilling the constitutional
commitment to determining the appropriate size
of the NA and devising a sensible plan for
reaching it;
d) issuing and enforcing clear orders to the NA to
advise on national security policy when requested but refrain from expressing opinions on
broader constitutional and political issues; and
e) making a first step towards full human rights
vetting by refusing promotion to those accused
of grave violations unless and until credible independent investigations have been carried out.
To the Unified Communist Party of Nepal
10. Recognise that concerns over Maoist strategic intent are genuine and well founded and can only be
addressed by concrete steps such as:
a) giving more solid guarantees of commitment to
political pluralism both in theory (for example
by reconsidering the proposal to ban political
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page iv
parties accused of supporting feudalism and imperialism) and in practice (for example by taking stern action against cadres who threaten,
assault or obstruct members of other parties);
b) clarifying the specific questions raised by the
Shaktikhor video, which appeared to substantiate charges of deception over combatant numbers and plans to use "democratisation" to politicise the national army; and
c) reaffirming the ceasefire and CPA conditions
on ceasing all political violence, in word and
11. Convince other parties and the people at large of
genuine intent to abide by the peace process, for
example by:
a) ending the militarised structure and paramilitary
activities of the Young Communist League
(YCL), including its occupation of public buildings as de facto barracks;
b) promptly discharging ineligible personnel in the
cantonments in line with repeated public promises, cooperating with government and international efforts to design and successfully deliver
appropriate rehabilitation packages;
c) implementing other unfulfilled past commitments
such as the return of seized property; and
d) cooperating with investigations and prosecutions
of crimes committed during the conflict and
ceasefire periods.
To the International Community, in particular
India, China, the U.S., EU, UN and Donors:
12. Publicly support the peace process and underline
international expectations for its successful conclusion by:
a) emphasising the need for all parties to adhere
to all aspects of the CPA, IC and other agreements;
b) supporting effective governance, while recognising that this will only be possible under a
broad-based national government and urging
all parties to make the compromises necessary
to achieve this;
c) underlining that significant development and
budgetary assistance is at risk should stable
governance not be established;
d) pressuring all parties to use only non-violent
methods to pursue protests and to avoid excessively disruptive tactics such as blocking the
functioning ofthe CA; and
e) continuing to urge investigations into the worst
alleged conflict abuses and offering technical
support as appropriate.
13. Strengthen international consensus and coordination by:
a) addressing the rift between India, which appears
to have revised its interpretation of the peace
deal, and other major players, who still support
the agreements initiated and endorsed by New
b) dispelling impressions of waste and confusion
by getting a grip on the multiple, overlapping
programs supporting critical areas like the constitutional process and security sector reform;
c) maintaining a common strong emphasis on
human rights, political pluralism and conflict
resolution at the heart of all policies, including
development aid and military cooperation.
14. Recognising that delay in reforming the security
sector is continuing to compromise all development
efforts by draining resources and undermining political progress:
a) seek unambiguous assurances that affordability
and accountability will be key criteria in any
consideration of security sector budgets and policy, and that development funds will not be used
in effect to subsidise an unsustainably large
b) push for democratic control ofthe security sector and discuss detailed plans for appropriate
c) urge prompt measures to address the pressing
need for improved public security and offer
support to such steps; and
d) explore ways to help train integrated NA and
other security forces, in particular by offering
conversion training for former PLA combatants,
including at officer level if requested, and joint
training to integrated units on working under
democratic control, respect for human rights, etc.
To the Government of India:
15. Given the enduring tradition of intimate Indo-Nepal
links, use the special relationship constructively to
secure both Nepal and India's core interests without attempting to dictate, for example by:
a) making a clear, public recommitment to the
fundamentals ofthe peace process;
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page v
b) offering public endorsement of the principle of
PLA integration into the NA and other security
forces, if agreed by Nepal's parties and in the
manner oftheir choosing;
c) building on India's leading example of successful
civilian control ofthe military and unique army
to army links to offer support in areas such as
building a functional defence ministry and training army officers and civil servants to work
effectively alongside one another;
d) sending firm messages to the Indian army to
support government policy on Nepal and communicate appropriate messages to counterparts
in the NA;
e) considering positive steps to support security
sector reform, including training for former
Maoist combatants joining the security forces
and assistance in reshaping policing to meet
the needs of federalism and improved public
accountability; and
f) supporting the UN's role and using Indian influence constructively to assist in creating the
conditions for the winding up Security Council-mandated operations.
To Members of the United Nations
Security Council:
16. The Security Council should underline its commitment to supporting the peace process but also
its concern about weakening consensus and delays
in addressing key steps by:
a) considering a Security Council visit to Nepal to
understand the complex situation and hear directly from the main political actors how they
propose to address challenges;
b) encouraging member states represented in Kathmandu to scrutinise progress, offer support as
necessary and report publicly on progress or
c) making stronger public messages of support for
UNMIN's mission and for Nepal's parties in
taking prompt steps to conclude the peace process and restructure UN involvement to reflect
the longer term needs of a successful post-
conflict transition; and
d) engaging more closely with India to narrow
differences in perspective and build more solid
common ground on outside support for the
peace process.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 13 August 2009
Crisis Group
Asia Report N°173
13 August 2009
Nepal's peace process rests on a cleverly constructed
settlement crafted through difficult negotiations.1 But
the deal was predicated on a fragile consensus; it depended on interlocking commitments which neither side
entered into wholeheartedly. The parties to the talks
were not the same as the parties to the conflict. The
mainstream seven-party alliance that represented the
state had already allied with the Maoists to topple King
Gyanendra who, with absolute control of the army,
had formed the third point of a triangular conflict.2
The November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA) was not as comprehensive as its name implied.3
It was vague on the future ofthe two armies and, just
as damaging, silent on the question of militias and
demilitarisation.4 Meanwhile, there was little in the
way of sustained process. Inter-party committees met
only sporadically; there were no effective mechanisms
to monitor the many commitments that held the deal
The process may be unique but its travails are not.
Holding parties to commitments is a tough task in any
post-conflict transition, especially as they perceive the
balance of power altering in the course of a lengthy
1 On the process so far see past Crisis Group reporting: on
the CA election, Crisis Group Asia Report N°149, Nepal's
Election and Beyond, 2 April 2008 and the companion postelection Asia Reports N°155, Nepal's Election: A Peaceful
Revolution? and N°156, Nepal's New Political Landscape,
3 July 2008; on the strains following the Maoists' first six
months in government Asia Report N°163, Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, 19 February 2009. Full Nepali translations of all reports and briefings from 2007 onwards are
available at
2See Crisis Group Asia Report N°106, Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists, 28 November 2005.
3See Crisis Group Asia Report N°126, Nepal's Peace
Agreement: Making it Work, 15 December 2006.
4 See in particular Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Peace
Agreement, op. cit., pp. 25-27: "From Arms Management to
process. As a leading expert cautions, "An important
and frequent reason why civil war negotiations fail is
because it is almost impossible for the combatants
themselves to arrange credible guarantees on the terms
ofthe settlement".5 While adversaries can reach compromises and find mutually acceptable solutions, combatants "cannot credibly promise to abide by terms
that create numerous opportunities for exploitation
after the treaty is signed and implementation begins".6
The most dramatic shift in Nepal's power equations
came with the elections. All parties had assumed the
Maoists would perform poorly. Instead, their strong
showing significantly changed the political landscape.7
The combination ofthe Maoists' de facto power on the
ground with de jure authority increased their opponents'
fears. At the same time, the Nepalese Army (NA) kept
itself at full strength while confidently - if privately -
predicting that People's Liberation Army (PLA) capacity would be rapidly degraded by desertions and lack
of new recruitment. This critical equation lies at the
heart of the dispute over NA recruitment, just as raw
power calculations have encouraged otherwise unmili-
taristic individuals to look to the NA as the only credible opposition to the Maoists.
The Maoists still feel they are the single force that delivered the republic, the constituent assembly (CA),
the prospect of federalism and other dramatic changes.
To them, the idea that Nepal would move ahead more
easily without them in the lead seems ridiculous.
Other parties have yet to offer evidence to controvert
this view. For its part, the United Communist Party of
Nepal (Maoist), UCPN(M), has offered too little proof
it will genuinely forgo armed revolution in favour
of accepting the rules of a politically pluralist game.
Mutual recriminations and heightened suspicions have
prompted further reconsideration of the assumptions
that underlay the CPA.
Barbara F. Walter, Committing to Peace (Princeton, 2001),
p. 5.
6 Ibid.
7 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's New Political Landscape,
op. cit.
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 2
Meanwhile, both sides are talking past each other.
There is too little communication on policy issues.
Despite vibrant discussions in the media and occasionally in the CA, Nepal's public sphere continues to
give the impression of being two parallel worlds. This
is largely due to both sides' deliberate behaviour. The
erstwhile "mainstream" parties are still backed by
broadly conservative power-players concerned to protect the status quo - the army, press magnates, India,
some donors and other gatekeepers. The Maoists have
also haughtily refused opportunities to explain themselves, engage in neutral forums, show understanding
of others' concerns and work towards a common language - and behaviour - that could allay fears about
their long-term intent.
All parties are neglecting the foundations of the people's movement that they themselves had framed in
November 2005: a "peaceful movement launched on the
basis of these understandings centred on democracy,
peace, prosperity, forward-looking social change and
the country's independence, sovereignty, and pride".8
The fall of the Maoist government came abruptly and
dramatically. Backed into a corner by their own rigidity and outmanoeuvred by wily rivals, the former
rebels pre-empted a protracted campaign to oust them
by resigning from office on principle. The immediate
cause was a struggle over control of the army and the
collapse of cabinet unity. Isolated once again, the
Maoists jumped before they were pushed.
The end oftheir short-lived administration was neither
entirely unexpected nor unforetold. Nepali Congress
(NC) president G.P. Koirala had long predicted that
the government would fall "like a ripe mango"; it
would not even need to be plucked. The Maoist leadership had sown many ofthe seeds oftheir own destruction. They were careless in cultivating allies, surprisingly inept at working the machinery of state and
alternately supine and reckless in pursuit of policies
that they had failed to sell to their partners. At the
same time, they gave no shortage of ammunition to
those who suspected their revolutionary strategy was
intact not only on paper but in practice.
But before the Maoists jumped they had been pushed
to the edge. From the start they faced dogged opposition. Spearheaded by the army and backed by powerful elites, the coalition of opponents was fronted by
confrontational media commentators and second-rung
leaders in the other major parties.9 India, never reconciled to the election results but initially willing to give
the Maoists the benefit of the doubt, started to swing
decisively behind the anti-Maoist campaign. Before
Twelve-Point Agreement, November 2005, Art. 11. See
Crisis Group Report, Nepal's New Alliance, op. cit., p. 30.
The election result significantly affected attitudes towards
the army. Influential outlets such as Himal Khabarpatrika,
which had been deeply suspicious of Katawal and publicly
critical of army politicisation, changed course once the Maoists started leading the government. (Before the CA election,
this publication had challenged the army's growing political
clout: Kiran Nepal and J.B. Pun Magar, "Prabhav badhaun-
dai sena", Himal Khabarpatrika, 1 August 2007.) Himal
Khabarpatrika's role in setting the scene for confrontation
was particularly noteworthy, including an editorial on "military sensitivity" using pejorative language to dismiss the
Maoist forces as "gangs of fighters" (ladaku jattha) unworthy of being called an army ("Sainik samvedanshilata", 29
January 2009) and the emotive but not entirely plausible
story of General Katawal cowering in fear of his life because of threatening calls from supposed Maoist activists
telling him to resign or face "physical action" (J.B. Pun
Magar, "Arko utpatangko avasan", 12 February 2009). It
interpreted the Maoist-led government's refusal to extend the
term of eight brigadier-generals as an effort to reduce the
top brass to "slaves". J.B. Pun Magar, "Das banaune khel",
Himal Khabarpatrika, 29 March 2009.
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 3
the Maoists even decided to challenge the army chief,
New Delhi had decided it had had enough of the experiment and wanted them out. The Maoists' choice
of a confrontational path only helped their opponents
achieve their aim.
It is not clear why the Maoists pushed the crisis over
the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to a head at the point
they did. Tensions with the army, not unnatural given
the brutal war they had been waging until 2006, had
been building steadily long before the defence minister sent COAS Katawal a letter on 18 April 2009
demanding clarification of alleged acts of insubordination.
Compared to the lows of December-Ianuary, when relations within the governing coalition were almost as
strained as those with opposition parties, the Maoist-
led administration appeared to have gained some stability. The ordinance on inclusive recruitment to the
civil service and police issued in lanuary had given the
Madhesi lanadhikar Forum (MIF) a policy achievement it was happy to embrace and claim credit for; the
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
(UML) general convention's election of Ihalanath
Khanal had endorsed the leader most determined to
pursue constructive cooperation with the UCPN(M).
The forthcoming budget was going to offer Finance
Minister Baburam Bhattarai an opportunity to answer
criticisms that he had been good at raising revenue but
hopeless at delivering real improvements. The signs
were that he and his team had learned from their mistakes and were prepared to introduce more effective
pro-poor initiatives.
Against this backdrop, insisting on sacking the COAS
at the cost of ending their government appears perverse. General Katawal had given them many reasons
to doubt his loyalty and commitment to peace (see
below). But he was due to retire in September and his
private fulminations, however ill concealed, were
unlikely to translate into a threat to the government.
While much attention centred on the Maoists' cultivation of his deputy, Lt.-Gen. Kul Bahadur Khadka, levering him into leadership would not have delivered the
immediate benefits some commentators imagined.10
Khadka had clearly been in discussion with the UCPN(M)
over steps he could take to assist them. Many commentators
allege he was willing to integrate all of the Maoists' UN-
verified combatants and also to appoint former PLA commanders to senior positions. Such claims may be true but
while Khadka could have reduced NA opposition to Maoist
Khadka's own desire to become chief may have been
keen but he was no Maoist. In 2006 he had devoted
similar effort to cultivating the Koiralas in the hope of
leapfrogging Katawal. In any case, he alone could not
have offered mass PLA integration or brought Maoist
officers into command positions.
Pressure within the wider Maoist movement to take
action against Katawal had been growing. His firm
stance against integration and overt political manoeuvring had angered PLA commanders and party leaders:
for once, the frequently clashing peace process architect Baburam Bhattarai and dissident faction leader
Mohan Baidya joined forces in the push to read him
the riot act. Apart from the three cases cited in the
demand for clarification,11 Katawal's cultivation ofthe
non-Maoist members of the Army Integration Special
Committee's (AISC) technical committee, which came
to light immediately before the confrontation, added
to Maoist frustrations.12 In the words of one senior
When the crisis had come to a head with the recruitment issue we'd shown patience and tried to
compromise to keep a working relationship. But
[General Katawal] refused to play along in similar
style and instead became more and more provocative. We had to take action or the spectre ofthe
army flexing its political muscles over our and
future governments would never have gone away.13
If Katawal had responded in conciliatory fashion to the
clarification demand, compromise might have been
possible.14 It is strange that almost no commentators
have questioned whether the NA should also be morally bound by the effort to seek consensus - let alone
to work in line with the letter and spirit of the peace
policies, decisions on integration still rested with the multiparty AISC and officer posts were not in his gift.
11 The three cases were the NA's refusal to halt a major recruitment drive, Katawal's instruction to eight brigadier-
generals to continue work despite the government's decision not to extend their terms and the NA's withdrawal from
the National Games in protest at the PLA's participation.
12 Some close observers argued that the NA's efforts to influence AISC technical committee members behind the
Maoists' backs may have been the last straw that led to Prachanda summoning Katawal to demand an explanation and
suggest he resign. Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu,
April-May 2009.
13 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 29 April 2009.
14Katawal's combative response, in which he rejected all of
the allegations and resorted to detailed legal arguments to
defend his actions and question the government's right to
challenge him, was published in full as "Pradhansenapatiko
spashtikaran", Deshantar Saptahik, 26 April 2009.
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process. Senior leader and former PLA deputy commander Barshaman Pun "Ananta" said: "We had
thought that the clarification would be "soft" and that
we would easily be able to find a resolution acceptable to all. But the clarification displayed such deep
insubordination, and the Army chief, instead of trying
to resolve the issue with the government, went to get
the help of various political parties and diplomatic
missions. This we felt was the incorrect thing to do".15
The effort to clip the army chiefs wings marked a risky
break from the softly-softly strategy that Prachanda
had previously adopted. Relations between Maoist
Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and the army
had been frosty at best.16 Neither side exerted itself to
bridge mutual suspicions; Thapa won no trust despite
privately lobbying internationals to maintain military
assistance to the NA. Moreover, he signally failed to
develop and implement plans for the army "democratisation" that the Maoists argued was so essential.17
Despite this dysfunctional relationship, Prachanda had
built slightly more conciliatory working ties with Katawal. Whatever the combination of internal pressures and
external compulsions that forced his hand, Prachanda
might well have preferred to let Katawal see out his
term and retire quietly. As it was, he soon found out
that he had bitten off more than he could chew.
The unravelling of this consensus was due more to
elementary political miscalculation than Maoist highhandedness.
What went wrong? First, the Maoists underestimated
the strength of resistance that Katawal and his backers
would put up. Second, they stalled on taking action
and gave their opponents enough time to outmanoeuvre them. Both mistakes suggest the skills that had
served them well during the conflict have dulled: they
failed to respect their enemy and lacked decisiveness.19 Once the clarification letter had been delivered
to General Katawal, UML leader Ihalanath Khanal
and MIF leader (and foreign minister) Upendra Yadav
departed on overseas trips. In their absence, a concerted
counterattack gathered momentum.
The first step was to slow the Maoists down and to
sow doubt in public and within the parties. This was
accomplished in style, albeit with perhaps excessive
zeal. While the first media commentaries raised the
stakes subtly,20 a subsequent round of rumours was more
melodramatic. Sacking Katawal, Nepalis were warned,
could prompt an army takeover or a collapse of the
state.21 One unsubstantiated, sensationalist magazine
cover story warned that the Maoists would launch their
own coup to seize complete power under cover of a
B. Outflanked and Outgunned
Many commentators have blamed the Maoists for
bringing down their own government through arrogant
unilateralism. The charge is not without foundation:
many oftheir most controversial, and least successful,
decisions were taken with little consultation. But this
was not the case here. They had cabinet approval to
seek clarification with the clear understanding that an
inadequate response could lead to Katawal's dismissal.18
Interview, The Kathmandu Post, 5 May 2009 (interview
taken on 1 May).
16 For a detailed analysis of the cool relations between the
COAS and defence minister, see Mukul Humagain, "Asahaj
sambandh", Nepal, 18 January 2009.
17 The Maoists' basic position on the future of the national
army has been both consistent and public. See Baburam
Bhattarai, "Senako loktantrikaran ra punarsamrachanako
prashna", Janadesh, 12 June 2007. It is reflected in the draft
constitutional submissions the UCPN(M) has presented to
the CA in 2009. The party, however, only introduced practical proposals five weeks before the fall of the government.
Lekhnath Nyaupane, "Yasto chha nepali senalai loktantrikaran game sarkari yojana", Janadisha, 30 March 2009.
18 UML leader Jhalanath Khanal and MJF leader Upendra
Yadav clarified in later press interviews that they had indeed consented to the proposed action. Even one senior In
dian diplomat accepted that such consensus existed initially,
while professing bafflement as to how it evaporated. Crisis
Group interview, Kathmandu, June 2009.
19 The initial demand for General Katawal to clarify his actions was met not only with relief in the Maoist ranks but
with short-sighted hubris. "Army chief ambushed", ran the
delighted front-page headline of the UCPN(M)'s mouthpiece. "Pradhansenapati dharapma", Janadesh, 21 April 2009.
Even as the plan started unravelling and the Maoists should
have been realising that they themselves were the ones being ambushed, the same mouthpiece gave the proposed action against Katawal an unqualified welcome. "Antatah katawal karvahima", Janadesh, 28 April 2009.
20One respected editor's front-page commentary on the
problems the Maoists were inviting, for example, played on
both their internal pressures and the external resistance they
would likely encounter. Sudheer Sharma, "Maovadi kina
pachhadi saryo?", Kantipur, 23 April 2009.
21 The possibility of an army coup received prominent coverage, starting with a front-page expose on the supposed
"soft coup" plan and Lt.-Gen. Khadka's plotting to take over
from Gen. Katawal (Sudheer Sharma, "Ke-ke bhayo senab-
hitra?", Kantipur, 24 April 2009) and continuing with further headline coverage of the "accident" that had been narrowly averted (Sudheer Sharma, "Jhandai durghatana", Kantipur, 25 April 2009). The question of a coup's plausibility
and potential impact occupied one newspaper's entire Saturday feature edition. "Sainik 'ku' sambhav chha?", Naya Patrika, 25 April 2009.
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May Day rally.22 These stories appear to have been
orchestrated by the army - whose psychological operations unit has concentrated on pushing anti-Maoist
propaganda into the mainstream media - and its supporters in the press and political parties.
The second step was to bring powerful international
players into action. Most diplomatic missions were
concerned at Katawal's possible dismissal, more out
of fears for stability and genuine doubts about Maoist
ill intent than any great respect for him. But the real
actor, as ever, was New Delhi. Mobilising India's big
guns was not difficult, as India had been intimately involved in planning the downfall of the government.23
Apart from the well documented flurry of meetings
carried out by Ambassador Rakesh Sood,24 Indian
Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee played an important role, telephoning Ihalanath Khanal in China and
advising him to return to Kathmandu and withdraw
support to the Maoists.25
The third step, and last resort, was to use the office of
the president as a final trump card. Ideally, the pressure from the first measures would have been sufficient to force the Maoists to back down. When they
pressed ahead with sacking Katawal despite the unravelling oftheir coalition, the president was given the
nod to step in.
Matters came to a head on 3 May. The Maoists' main
coalition partner, the UML, walked out of the cabinet
meeting when it became clear the UCPN(M) was set
on taking action against General Katawal. The MIF
did not leave the room, but refused to endorse the decision. From their many meetings in the preceding
days, Maoist leaders knew that going ahead would
prompt a backlash from the president, opposition parties, the army itself and powerful diplomats. Nevertheless, they not only chose to press on but did so in a
22 J.B. Pun Magar, "Bhayanak sapana", Himal Khabarpatrika, 29 April 2009.
23 Crisis Group interviews, Indian officials and independent
analysts, Kathmandu, April-May 2009 and New Delhi, June
24 See, for example, Nepal's biggest-selling daily's front page
story (Gopal Khanal, "Sudko daud-dhup") and accompanying analysis (Dinesh Wagle, "Senapati prakaranma dilliko
chaso"), Kantipur, 2 May 2009.
25 Crisis Group interviews, New Delhi, June 2009.
way that gave grounds to question their constitutional
and procedural legitimacy.26
In constitutional terms, the Maoists' determination to
sack Katawal appeared to breach the requirement for
the government to act "consistently with ... political
consensus and culture of mutual cooperation".27 However, the charge is hard to press: the same article also
calls for the executive to govern in consonance with
"the aspirations of the united people's movement".
This suggests all parties should remain committed to
the November 2005 twelve-point agreement's agenda
of "forward-looking social change" as well as the specific promise to "democratise" the Nepalese Army.28
Holding parties to such loosely worded declarations of
principle requires political accountability rather than
legalistic interpretation. The concept of "political consensus" is particularly ill defined in legal terms. The
original stipulation that it meant seven parties-Maoist
agreement29 was deleted by the luly 2008 fifth amendment and no replacement definition was substituted.30
As for the legitimacy of a majority, or single-party,
cabinet decision, the constitution is unequivocal: this
One critic of the Maoists' decision-making style and process has helpfully reproduced copies of the critical documents discussed in this section. Kedar Subedi, "Dastavejha-
rule pramanit garchha - ko nayak, ko khalnayak!", Deshan-
tar Saptahik, 17 May 2009.
27 Interim Constitution, Art. 43(1): "The conduct of business
of the Government of Nepal shall be carried out consistently with the aspirations ofthe united people's movement,
political consensus and culture of mutual cooperation. The
common minimum programme prepared through mutual
agreement shall be the basis of the policies of the Government of Nepal".
28 The Interim Constitution took the 7 November 2006 Seven
Parties-Maoist summit agreement as the basis of the consensus agenda. This agreement's second part specified: "The
interim cabinet would prepare and implement the detailed
action plan of democratisation of the Nepali Army by taking suggestions from the concerned committee of the interim
parliament. This includes works like determination of the
right number of the Nepali Army, prepare the democratic
structure reflecting the national and inclusive character, and
train them on democratic principles and human rights values".
29 "For the purpose of this Constitution 'political consensus'
means the political consensus reached between the seven
political parties - Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (UML), Janamorcha Nepal, Nepal Sadbhavana Party
(Anandidevi), Nepal Majdur Kisan Party, Samyukta Bam
Morcha Nepal - and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
on 8 November 2006". Interim Constitution, Art. 38(1).
30 "Amendment of Article 38 of the Constitution: In Article
38: (1) The explanation included in Sub-article (1) has been
removed". Fifth Amendment of the Interim Constitution,
Art. 7.
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Page 6
is up to the government itself and is not a question for
the courts.31
In procedural terms, the case is more clear cut. The
Maoists did not follow the rules. However ceremonial
the president's role, he is empowered to appoint the
COAS and control the army on the advice ofthe cabinet.32 Although there is no provision for dismissing an
army chief, the spirit ofthe constitution is clear.33 The
Maoists bypassed the president, informing him of the
cabinet decision only by telephone but sending a letter
of dismissal direct to General Katawal, as well as
handing a letter of appointment as acting chief to his
number two, Lt.-Gen. Kul Bahadur Khadka.34
This abuse of process is insignificant compared to constitutional issues. It has no bearing on the validity of
the decision itself. But it provided President Ram
Baran Yadav the opening he needed to accept a petition from eighteen opposition parties to annul the decision. The constitutional grounds for this intervention
were shaky.35 But the practical pressures and political
incentives were irresistible. Army sources had indicated that General Katawal would have had no option
but to stand down if his dismissal were not countermanded by the end ofthe day. If so, the putative damage of passing control to a pro-Maoist successor would
already have been done before any appeal could be
heard. Furthermore, India had made its mind up. Reliable sources indicate that Pranab Mukherjee telephoned
President Yadav soon after the sacking was announced
and promised him full support if he reversed it.
For both sides, questions of constitutional propriety
came to the fore only after the real battle was over.
The Maoists had the stronger case but they had relin-
31 "The allocation of portfolios and transaction of business
ofthe Government of Nepal shall be carried out as provided
for in rules approved by the Government of Nepal". Interim
Constitution, Art. 38(2) "No question shall be raised in any
court as to whether or not rules made pursuant to clause (2)
above have been observed". Interim Constitution, Art. 38(3).
32 Interim Constitution, Art. 144.
33 The Army Act, which became law before the fourth interim constitution amendment introduced the presidency,
provided that the government of Nepal may remove the
COAS. Army Act 2006, 11(3).
34 The letter of appointment was not, in fact, required. If the
post of COAS becomes vacant, the next most senior officer
automatically becomes acting chief, without needing cabinet
approval or presidential endorsement. Army Act 2006, 8(3).
35 There is no constitutional provision for the president to
reject or override a government decision, nor is there any
provision for a direct petition from parties claiming to form
a majority. They can, however, call a vote of no confidence
- a step which the president's action, and the Maoists'
prompt resignation, pre-empted.
quished their ministerial seats before they made it.
The president enforced his expanded authority and enjoyed the flexing of political muscle that he had been
limbering up for.36 But his intervention will cast a
long shadow. However ridiculous the characterisation
of President Yadav as a new autocratic monarch, the
risks of dual power centres have been illustrated by
recent history. The parallels with Gyanendra's October 2002 dismissal of Prime Minister Deuba and February 2005 royal coup are by no means exact but the
essence is the same: the invocation of amorphous "political necessity" to act against a legitimate government in the name of defending the constitution.37
D. Adieu or Au Revoir?
When the Maoists launched their offensive against General Katawal they did not calculate that it could end in
their own checkmate. But when they were thwarted by
President Yadav, they recovered the wits and decisiveness that had deserted them in the preceding days.
While others prepared for a messy, lengthy battle to
force them out of government - with no certainty that
they could be defeated in a vote of no confidence -
Prachanda opted for surprise. The following morning
he drafted a resignation speech; by the middle of the
day he was on television, addressing the nation to explain that he was quitting on principle.38
One civil society leader who attended a joint meeting with
President Yadav as the crisis unfolded reported that he was
already rehearsing the arguments to support taking an active role and unwilling to listen to alternative views. Crisis
Group interview, Kathmandu, May 2009. For a published
account of the president's comments in this meeting, see
"Ma seremoniyal hun bhanne samvidhanma kaha lekhya
chha?", Naya Patrika, 29 April 2009. The newspaper simultaneously published a prescient editorial warning of the
president's "^constitutional ambitions". "Rashtrapatiko asam-
vaidhanik mahattvakanksha", Naya Patrika, 29 April 2009.
Despite becoming president, Yadav has continued interfering in local politics in his home district. Prashant Jha, "Right
shift", Nepali Times, 10 July 2009. His clout did not, however, assist his son, who came an embarrassing third in the
by-election contest to fill his father's vacated CA seat in
April 2009.
37 To take only one example, even most UML leaders reportedly viewed the president's move as unconstitutional and
criticised their own party's uncritical stance. "Nepal Cabinet expanded; Madhesh parties mysteriously absent", Telegraph Weekly, 18 June 2009.
38 The full text of Prachanda's resignation speech, in Nepali,
is at
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The resignation speech was not without an element of
self-pity. Prachanda believed he and his party had been
hard done by, their efforts to forge consensus and
establish civilian supremacy pulled apart by a cynical
coalition following a script written in New Delhi.39
Even if somewhat self-indulgent, and weak in acknowledgment ofthe Maoists' contribution to their
own downfall, this analysis resonated with many ordinary people. Prachanda's defiance of India and unusually blunt criticism of its meddling won some new
admirers. Most importantly, the Maoists' willingness
to quit rather than dig in for a war of attrition suggested that they might yet retain a fresh approach to
politics and be less prone to the temptations of clinging to office for its own sake. The speech was far from
a final farewell.
The biggest question is whether or not the Maoists have
genuinely embarked on the path of peaceful politics.
Their critics suggest that they will never change: whatever promises they have made are only cosmetic, designed to sow confusion while they covertly pursue
the same strategy of seizing power and establishing
totalitarian rule. Such fears are borne out by statements from some senior leaders who never embraced
the spirit of the peace deal or recognised that their
original approach was not going to deliver. Furthermore, the party's official ideological stance has hardly
altered: on paper, the people's war is not a thing ofthe
past. Its strategic offensive phase is still in progress,
although the war is now being prosecuted by different
The argument that the Maoists have not changed course
and are using the peace process as cynical cover for
a violent insurrection can sound compelling. Its most
persistent exponents have made their case elegantly
and supported it with a wealth of evidence. But it is
wrong. However tenuous the Maoists' devotion to pluralism and the norms of liberal democracy, their movement is engaged in an evolutionary process that has,
over several years, already seen major shifts.
The outcome of this complex, passionately contested
process is uncertain. The party is unlikely to drop its
theoretical commitment to revolutionary goals - a step
that established moderate communist parties like the
UML, or India's Communist Party of India (Maoist)
(CPI(M)), have also never taken. Supporters of a more
dogmatic approach could yet win control and lead the
movement back to confrontation. But to deny that a real
debate is taking place requires either a wilful avoidance of reality or an even deeper cynicism than that
attributed to the UCPN(M).
39Prachanda's first CA speech as an opposition leader clearly
sets out the Maoist position on civilian supremacy. Edited
extracts were published as "Nagarik sarvocchata sthapit nab-
haesamma shanti ra samvidhan tungoma pugdaina", Janadisha, 9 July 2009. One of the UCPN(M)'s leading legal
and constitutional experts, and member of the interim constitution drafting committee, has also lucidly explained the
party's stance: Khimlal Devkota, "Nagarik sarvocchata ra
sainik netritva", Naya Patrika, 22 April 2009.
The Maoists were not ready for government nor were
other parties prepared to let them govern successfully.
This fundamental problem was immediately evident in
the four-month delay before a government was formed
and was subsequently thrown into sharper relief. This
twin problem led to a catch-22 situation. If the Maoists failed, it proved they were indeed unfit to govern.
If they succeeded, it proved it was indeed too dangerous to allow them to govern.
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As it happened, their record was one neither of dramatic
success nor of failure but rather a messy mixture of
the two. Their failures were evident to all, from over-
ambition and lack of skill in setting priorities and
using the machinery of state to achieve them to the
poor handling of coalition politics and the crude responses to criticism. At the same time, they underestimated the depth and genuineness of doubts over their
intentions and squandered opportunities to allay concerns and build bridges.
The Maoists' repeated threats to seize state power
{satta kahfa) came back to haunt them. Their every
move was interpreted as part of a covert plan for total
takeover.40 The aim of exercising power was indeed
there, as it had to be: the idea that any ruling party, let
alone one schooled in Leninism as well as Maoism,
would abjure power is untenable. As Maoist activists
rightly point out, satta kahfa is nothing new. Throughout its history, Nepal's state has been controlled by tiny
elites concerned primarily with extracting resources
for their own benefit.41 To the Maoists, the strident
warnings that they might seize power stem largely from
elites' concern that their political and economic hegemony could be weakened. As one UCPN(M) district
secretary complained, "It's only when we threatened
to use power for the sake of the people that people
started shouting. But when feudal forces had captured
See, for example, Ram Sharan Mahat, "Malafide intention",
The Kathmandu Post, 27 April 2009; Geja Sharma Wagle,
"Hidden agenda", The Kathmandu Post, 24 April 2009;
Dilip Rayamajhi, "Shades of the Third Reich", The Kathmandu Post, 1 June 2009. A more measured critique was
offered by leading NC youth activist Gagan Thapa as the
COAS crisis reached its peak: "Maovadiko niyatma ashanka",
Kantipur, 1 May 2009.
41 While the ideological underpinnings and the formal structure of the Nepalese state changed dramatically over time,
the ability of informal elite networks to capture the state
proved resilient. Anthropologist David Gellner characterises Rana rule until 1951 as running an "extractive state",
with heavy taxation and minimal public investment. Less
overtly extractive, the 1960-1990 period of palace rule significantly raised public investment under its development
agenda. But privileged groups continued to dominate the
bureaucracy and control most state resources. Development
was extremely uneven, with the capital's concentration of
wealth and public facilities in stark contrast to stagnating or
declining living standards in most other regions. Post-1990
democratic administrations made some progress in addressing inequality but state capture, by subtly changed informal
networks, continued, to some extent exacerbated by the pressures and expense of electoral competition. David Gellner,
"Introduction: Transformations of the Nepalese State", in
Gellner (ed.), Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences
(New Delhi, 2003).
state power for centuries we were expected to accept
it in silence".42
However, it is fair to question whether there are not
both qualitative and quantitative differences in the
Maoist approach. Their ideological schooling allows
internal debate but is intolerant of alternative world-
views. The legacy of ruthless and capricious communist regimes in other countries casts a long shadow -
even though they have long rejected the totalitarian
nature ofthe Soviet and Chinese systems.43 Their perceived strength and determined strategic intent also
sets them apart from previous governments in Nepal.
The Ranas and Shahs were brutal but incompetent in
their autocracy; post-1990 administrations were messy
and short-sighted. Their efforts to consolidate and
exercise power were simply never coherent enough to
be threatening - and they were always counterbalanced
by other parties and the palace. In contrast, the prospect of a brutally efficient, strategically focused Maoist regime backed by its own military force is indeed
of a different order.
In fact, however, the Maoists achieved precious little
in the way of structural change. While established
elites continued to fear their ruthless efficiency, ordinary voters were frustrated at elementary failures to
deliver basic goods.
Their scope for action was extremely constrained. Their
own coalition partners were half-hearted supporters
at best and often actively undermined their efforts.
Opposition parties and critics orchestrated howls of outrage when they attempted to take any concrete steps.
A judiciary universally distrusted for its corruption and
inefficiency became sacrosanct as soon as the Maoists
spoke of reform; the enforcement of fixed retirement
regulations for the police was portrayed as political
42 Crisis Group interview, western region, March 2009.
43 For example, the rejection of Soviet and Chinese-style
one-party systems dates back to the late 1990s and was
formalised with the "Development of Democracy in the
Twenty-First Century" policy. The commitment to a CA also
evolved from a vague initial commitment to constitutional
revision only as the Maoists first approached serious negotiations in 2001. There are numerous further examples of
strategic and tactical reconsideration taking place through
lengthy internal discussions. See Crisis Group Report, Nepal 's Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?, op. cit.
44 An Indian journalist was horrified that "the Maoist government that came to power in April 2008 has attempted to
refashion the judiciary, and the bureaucracy has been a victim of transfers and postings". Aditi Phadnis, "Once a revolutionary ...", Business Standard, 8 May 2009. Transferring
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Nevertheless, the Maoists proved that they did not need
any help to make bad judgments, to misread the political mood or to underestimate the difficulties of implementing policies. Governing under challenging circumstances was always going to be tough. Unplanned
as it was, their return to opposition may provide a
welcome relief from the demands of office.
B. The Video Nasty
Against this backdrop, a leaked video of Prachanda
rallying his troops in lanuary 2008 caused a predictable stir. The tape, of an 80-minute address to commanders and combatants ofthe PLA's third division,
appeared immediately following Prachanda's resignation.45 The choice extracts that were shown on a private television channel before being distributed to other
media were carefully selected to cause maximum embarrassment to the Maoists while obscuring the video's
context. In particular, Prachanda seemed to suggest
that the Maoists had hoodwinked the United Nations
Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) into vastly inflating the
number of verified Maoist combatants, that their plans
to seize power by violent means were intact, and that
they viewed the proposed "democratisation" of the
NA as a means to politicise it.
Opponents seized on the video's apparent revelations
to argue that fears over Maoist intent were more than
justified. However, there was no analysis ofthe entire
address and hardly any serious attempts in the press to
put it into context and assess the significance of Prachanda's comments.46 In an atmosphere of mock hysteria - with commentators falling over themselves to
declare their shock at discovering the Maoists had a
revolutionary agenda - facts were wilfully distorted
and underlying messages ignored.47 For example, it
has been repeatedly asserted that Prachanda admitted
he had used government funds meant for the canton
ments to buy arms. The video includes some suggestive innuendo but no such admission. At the same time,
serious information on Maoist politics was downplayed.
The UCPN(M) leadership's response did nothing to
encourage a sensible interpretation. Their explanations
on combatant numbers were opaque and unconvincing; Prachanda's point-blank dismissal ofthe tape as
"irrelevant" in the changed context was arrogant and
unenlightening.48 It was also wrong: the video helps to
explain the evolution of Maoist policy and management of the movement at a critical point in the peace
process. It offers lessons that remain highly relevant.
The context: What the edited highlights obscured, and
the hundreds of press reports barely mentioned, was
the extent to which Prachanda had been put on the
spot by the PLA. As he admits, he was summoned
against his will to give an account ofthe leadership's
line. All of his comments were in response to a highly
critical report that the PLA has prepared off its own
bat, based on consultation with combatants in every
brigade. It is clear that the report was wide-ranging
and reflected deep concerns. The fact that Prachanda
was forced to present himself to the PLA and respond
to the various criticisms suggests that by late 2007 the
Maoist military had started flexing its political muscles and exerting direct pressure on the leadership. This
goes some way towards substantiating the hypothesis
that PLA influence was a major factor in the dropping
of the Maoists' demand for army integration before
the elections.49 Prachanda was at pains to reassure the
PLA that the leadership had taken on board their concerns:
Finally, you have also raised many questions regarding integration. I don't think integration will
take place before this constituent assembly [elec-
some civil servants does not quite equate to the Year Zero-
style genocide and re-education camps that "experts" had
warned of.
45 A full transcript of the address was published in one daily
newspaper: "Yasto chha maovadi janayuddhako dirghakalin
rananiti", Nagarik, 6 May 2009. Extracts from Prachanda's
comments quoted in this section are translated from this
46There were, of course, some exceptions. For example,
Pramod Mishra, "Reading the tapes", The Kathmandu Post,
13 May 2009. However, none made a detailed assessment.
47 See, for example, Geja Sharma Wagle, "Maoist facade",
The Kathmandu Post, 9 May 2009; Tom Marks, "Prachan-
dagate: critical analysis", Republica, 12 May 2009; Kanak
Dixit, "Shakikhor manasthiti ra maovadi pravritti", Kantipur, 7 May 2009.
"I have given countless speeches on several occasions before the CA polls", Prachanda offered in explanation. "If
they are aired at present, they will appear to be meaningless
and inconsistent, considering our present commitment to
the peace process and the drafting ofthe new constitution".
"'Prachandagate' tape irrelevant: PM", The Himalayan
Times, 6 May 2009.
49 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond,
op. cit., p. 21: "Lack of progress on integrating PLA fighters, while seen by conservative opponents of the Maoists as
a victory, is precisely what more militant Maoist commanders sought. Prachanda's shift from December 2007 (when
he was calling for integration before the elections) to January 2008 (when he announced it could be deferred until after them) may look like a triumph for moderation but is in
fact a concession to those who want the PLA to be intact on
11 April".
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Page 10
tion] ... no understanding, no agreement, no decision has been made to carry out integration before
the constituent assembly. It is to take place after the
constituent assembly.50
The question of PLA numbers: Prachanda boasts of
deceiving UNMIN into verifying larger numbers of
combatants than the Maoists could truthfully claim:
How many of us really were there before the agreement? Honestly speaking, there were only a few of
us. We had reached between 7,000 and 8,000. If
we had kept the same number, how many would
have been left after UNMIN's verification? 4,000.
The verification of 7,000 would have left us with
4,000. At least by taking 35,000 we ended up with
20,000. This is the truth, we shouldn't tell this to
others. We know the truth. So why should we think
otherwise? Our leadership exercised their wisdom
and increased the regular army from 7,000 to
21,000. Now you are all soldiers.51
However, the picture is not that simple. There was a
large PLA expansion after the October 2005 Chunbang meeting.52 Before then, reasonable estimates had
placed the PLA strength towards 10,000; the then
Royal Nepalese Army's own estimate was 9,500 fully
trained fighters and 25,000 militia.53 Prachanda was,
as he admitted, responding to a strong perception in
the PLA that the verification process had unfairly excluded genuine fighters: "Now on the face of it, it may
look like our army has shrunk. But I don't agree it has
shrunk. ... Where you see it as having shrunk, I see it
as having vastly increased".54
Approach to the peace process: Prachanda's interpretation ofthe process, and of Maoist commitment to
it, suggested a mixture of pragmatism, cynicism and
50 Prachanda, address to PLA training meeting, Shaktikhor
cantonment, 8 January 2008.
51 Prachanda, address to PLA training meeting, Shaktikhor
cantonment, 8 January 2008.
52 This meeting resolved to expand the PLA from three to
seven divisions. Prachanda subsequently announced that half
of all political cadres would be transferred to military duties
to fill the newly created vacancies. Quoted in Naya Dis-
habodh, November 2005. See Crisis Group Asia Report
N°lll, Electing Chaos,31 January 2006, pp. 8-9.
53 Colonel Victor J.B. Rana, RNA press conference, The
Kathmandu Post, 21 May 2005. See Crisis Group Report,
Nepal's Maoists, pp. 8-9. While the true numbers are very
hard to determine with certainty, the more extreme claims are
patently ridiculous. See, for example, "PLA's real strength
1,000: Oli",, 18 July 2009.
54 Prachanda, address to PLA training meeting, Shaktikhor
cantonment, 8 January 2008.
revolutionary idealism. In lanuary 2008, few political
leaders and analysts would have bet on the elections
taking place as planned. Despite the December 2007
deal that brought the CPN(M) back into the government, the atmosphere was fraught. Prachanda's assessment that "as for the constituent assembly, either the
Congress won't let it happen, or we won't let it happen" is unpalatable in retrospect but was a realistic
take on parties' positions at the time. More remarkably, Prachanda insisted that the Maoists would have
called off the armed struggle and gone for elections
had their call for a CA been accepted in 2001 or 2003.
This intriguing revelation also went entirely unremarked on in the mainstream media.
Political agenda and popular support: Prachanda's
take on the saleability of the Maoist agenda deserves
consideration. It suggests both a genuine commitment
to change and a shrewd appreciation of the public
mood - as well as the useful role of conditional popular support for a purely Maoist-led revolution. To take
one example, his words on federalism remain relevant:
[The NC and UML] think of federal states as
zones, whereas the Nepali people have understood
federalism precisely as we have. For we have explained what a federation means. We have said it
should be based on ethnicity, geography and language. People have understood all this. But Congress and UML leaders have not understood this.
They say we'll make zones and then we'll make
them autonomous. They say the regions will only be
autonomous in geography. The Nepali people will
not agree to this. So we've already won there.
In the words of one Indian commentator, the video
proved that the Maoists "are not really committed to
democracy or democratic ideals but only want a
'democracy under our dictatorship'".55 In fact, the
video revealed that Prachanda had no compunction in
threatening the continued use of force ("it's not difficult for us to break the legs of candidates all over the
country") and consistently argued that participating in
the CA elections was a continuation of the revolution
by other means. But this was placed in the context of
repeated reference to respecting popular desires for
change ("anyone who tries to go back [on republicanism] will look like a traitor; the people will not accept
them") and improving relations with voters. Of course,
the aims of revolution and building popular support
are not incompatible. Rather, they are two sides ofthe
same coin: "A revolt happens by winning the people's
hearts and establishing that the Maoists are right and
only by following them can we move forward".
' Aditi Phadnis, op. cit.
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Page 11
Lessons: Ultimately, the video reveals little that is entirely new. The Maoists' revolutionary goals, ambiguous stance on the elections and difficulties coping
with internal pressures were no secret at the time. Two
lessons have emerged.
Non-Maoists should not underestimate Prachanda's political skills or the hard-headed calculation behind the
Maoists' decision to join open politics. Prachanda's
address to a deeply sceptical PLA was a masterclass
in managing dissent. His approaches ranged from
serious argument and ideological analysis to flattery,
cajoling and stern warnings against disloyalty.56 That
he won the day benefited all parties to the peace process. But the way he was put on the defensive throws
light on the core concerns of the broader Maoist movement and red lines of a politically powerful PLA.
Determination to see radical change and instinctive
wariness of compromise are both strong.
The Maoists need to recognise that they have only
themselves to blame for others' worries over their intent. The video "revelations" were a crude propaganda
campaign: deliberately leaked, selectively presented,
misleadingly reported and tirelessly presented to sympathetic audiences in India and beyond. Nevertheless,
the campaign was successful. It reignited old concerns,
put the Maoist leadership on the back foot and discredited the UN. Ifthe Maoists can be outmanoeuvred
by such simple tactics their political nerve endings
must be deadened indeed. And if they cannot offer substantive responses to the concerns raised by calls for
revolt, they cannot be surprised if no one trusts them.
C. The Beginning of the End or the
Those who argue that the Maoists should never be
trusted have preached to a steadily more receptive audience. Maoist strategy is immutable, in this view, and
therefore the UCPN(M) can under no circumstances
be a partner for peace or democracy. However attractive this line, it is more assertion than argument. It
neither accounts for the sharp debates within the Maoist movement nor offers an explanation for UCPN(M)
political behaviour. It also assumes that external factors
play no part in shaping opportunities and restraints.
The Maoists' internal arguments cannot credibly be dis-
For example, he reminded dissidents that they should think
very carefully before going against the line agreed at the
second national convention and made pointed reference to
the "Alok tendency" (named for a "traitor" expelled from
the party for dissent), underlining the party's intolerance for
rebellion even as it accepts a degree of debate.
missed as window-dressing designed purely to sow
confusion and distract from an underlying unity of
revolutionary purpose.
The outcome of internal discussions is uncertain.57
And the role of external players may push the debate
in predictable, but dangerous, directions.
Maoist ideologues have plugged a traditional revolutionary line and played on fears that their party's flexibility has turned into weakness. C.P. Gajurel "Gaurav"
has tirelessly rallied the Maoists' overseas supporters,
Nepali and foreign, calling on them to remain prepared for revolution.58 The Western members of the
Maoist Revolutionary Internationalist Movement are
probably as irrelevant as they are extreme but their re-
ceptiveness to the rebel line is revealing. For example,
Italy's Maoists have come out against the UCPN(M)
In this context we do not support the position of
chairman Prachanda but that of the comrades and
leaders in the Unified Communist Party of Nepal
(Maoist) that supports another line in the current
situation, Kiran and Gaurav. We think that this line
will become soon majority in the Party and moreover in the Nepal revolution and among the masses
in Nepal. We want a national and international campaign with specific committees that invite comrade
Gaurav to Italy and Europe.59
Gajurel has also put across the same message at home,
apparently taking particular pains to ensure the unmodified call for a people's republic is broadcast through
media outlets sympathetic to the NC and UML.60 The
A late 2008 article by one of the main dissenting leaders
clearly setting out the principal internal debates still serves
as good guide to the multiple, serious policy differences.
Netra Bikram Chand "Biplav", "Hamro partika pramukh
matbhedharu", Janadisha, 22 November 2008. On the apparently clear bifurcation between the leadership and the
main internal opposition following the collapse of the government, see Netra Panthi, "Maovadima spashta dui dhar",
Naya Patrika, 24 June 2009. It should be noted that senior
dissident leader Mohan Baidya insists there is no disagreement on tactics but has pushed for a renewed strategic push
for revolutionary struggle. "Karyanitiko barema partibhitra
kunai vivad chhaina", interview, Janadesh, 23 June 2009.
58 See "Krantika lagi tayar rahana pravasilai gauravko apil",
Janadisha, 29 April 2009.
59 Partite comunista maoista - Italia (Maoist Communist
Party of Italy), declaration, July 2009.
60 See, for example, his uncompromising message in an interview to one prominent pro-NC weekly: "Das mahinama
janaganatantra aunchha", Ghatana ra Bichar, 8 July 2009.
Like-minded fellow central committee members communicate
similar messages to the UML-leaning press as well. For ex-
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Page 12
charismatic but erratic former Maoist Madhesi leader
Matrika Yadav is on the warpath. His argument that
the leadership has lost direction and abandoned its
principles is attracting defectors to his own CPN(M).61
This has fed the ever more harsh and public criticisms
from other Maoists such as the U.S. Revolutionary
Communist Party (whose grip on reality is tenuous)
and the Indian Maoists (who are undertaking a real
revolutionary effort and have some genuine experience and influence). Both of these parties believe the
UCPN(M) has undergone a genuine, and to them alarming, strategic shift away from the tenets of Marxism-
Leninism-Maoism. The CPI (Maoist) has offered a
lengthy, closely argued critique complaining that the
UPCN(M) leadership has in effect abandoned the people's war and class struggle:
Today, there is a peculiar situation in Nepal. The
old Royal Nepal Army continues to be the bulwark
of the present state structure in Nepal while the
PLA is a passive onlooker. What would the Maoists do if a coup is staged by the army with the instigation ofthe reactionary comprador-feudal parties
with the backing of Indian expansionists and US
imperialists? Or if an Indonesia-type blood-bath of
the Communists is organised by the reactionaries?
How do the Maoists defend themselves when they
have demobilised and disarmed the PLA?62
aback: a prime mover in the regime change was erstwhile Maoist K.P. Oli - now one ofthe NA's, and New
Delhi's, closest confidants.64 The induction of former
Maoists is nothing new. Gyanendra's post-coup royal
cabinet also included an ex-Ihapali, R.K. Mainali.
Clearly individuals' politics are not immutable - as the
UCPN(M) leadership's bitter denunciation of traitors
and revisionists shows they are well aware. Matrika
Yadav's "real" CPN(M) has reportedly been attracting
mass defections.65 Some UN-verified PLA combatants
have reportedly acted on their frustration with the
peace process by switching allegiance.66
There has also been movement in the other direction.
The CPN(M) brought on board the CPN (Unity Centre) in lanuary 2009 to form the UCPN(M).67 It has
regularly boasted of recruiting UML activists; indeed,
a prominent UML leader has estimated that almost
half of the Maoists' district secretaries were originally
with the UML, many of them switching camps following the UML's 1999 split.68 More controversially
and counterintuitively, the Maoists have also very
publicly embraced former royalists, including cinema
directors and actors. This is in line with their vow to
unite with "nationalists" - a phrase that many democrats understand, with good reason, as code for erstwhile backers of the king. Some Maoist leaders are
proud of this flexibility.69
At the same time, the boundary between the UCPN(M)
and other parties has become more permeable than
ever. The new cabinet contains one Maoist defector to
the UML, Rabindra Shrestha, and it is also backed by
a former leader of the landlord-decapitating Ihapa
movement, C.P. Mainali.63 We should not be too taken
ample, "Janaganatantrako tayarima chhaun", interview with
Haribhakta Kandel, Drishti, 30 June 2009.
61 Matrika Yadav was quoted describing the UCPN(M) as a
"congregation of corrupt leaders" and saying that Prachanda
"had committed the biggest mistake of his life by appointing [M.K.] Nepal as CA member ... the institutionalisation
of the republic is a difficult proposition as long as the same
orthodox and feudalist people remain in the government".
"Matrika slams UCPN (Maoist) as corrupt",,
10 July 2009.
62 "Open letter to CPN (Maoist)", CPI (Maoist) politbureau,
20 May 2009, at
Docs/Nepal/OpenLetterToCPNM-090520.pdf. For a summary
of the argument, see "Indian Maoists criticise Prachanda for
betraying the revolution", LANS, 29 June 2009. For further
comments on Nepal by the CPI (Maoist) see www.
63 The 1971 Jhapa movement, which took its inspiration from
the Naxalite rebellion just over the border in India's West
Bengal state, killed eight landlords before being crushed by
the government. Seven of its own leaders were executed
and others jailed. See Deepak Thapa, A Kingdom under Siege
(Kathmandu, 2003), p. 26.
64 On his Jhapa movement origins see Crisis Group Report,
Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, op. cit., p. 16.
65 One report claimed that 240 hard-core UCPN(M) activists
had defected to Matrika Yadav's CPN(M), citing their mother
party's abandonment of its revolutionary ethos and dissatisfaction with leaders and their arguments. "240 UCPN
(Maoist) activists join Matrika's party",, 5
July 2009.
66 Reports of full-fledged defections by formed units are exaggerated. Nevertheless, there is likely truth in some of the
individual defections. See "50 PLA men join Matrika
party",, 16 July 2009.
67 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, op. cit.
68Pradip Nepal, "Maovadiko karkhana emale", Drishti, 23
June 2009. Nepal estimates that 36 of the UCPN(M)'s 75
district secretaries came from the UML, as did some five
dozen oftheir CA members. He also claims that many of those
who abandoned the UML to join the Bamdev Gautam-led
CPN(ML) in 1999 - whom he terms "male-maovadis" after
the CPN(ML)'s Nepali acronym - resurfaced as Maoist
representatives in the 2007 interim legislature.
69 Former minister Hisila Yami, for instance, is proud that
the UCPN(M) is not as rigid as other leftist groupings such
as the CPN (Mashal). Hisila Yami, "Divided we fall", The
Kathmandu Post, 23 June 2009.
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Page 13
So far, the leadership line is holding in the face of
critical questioning. Prachanda has insisted that a national unity government, led by the UCPN(M), is the
best way forward - and that his party remains committed to the peace process.70 Being back in opposition may enhance unity in the short term as all factions share a common front against their sidelining
from state power. The Maoists seem to have realised
the risks of stepping too far out of line. They pulled
back from an initial ratcheting up of intimidation in
the districts following the fall oftheir government and
allowed the CA to function, the government's program to be passed and the budget presented. This at
least indicates an awareness that bad behaviour would
be short-sighted and risky: some more excitable opponents had been talking of using their obstruction of
the CA as an excuse to invoke emergency powers.
However, ifthe situation is not resolved in the coming
months, pressure on the leadership will grow. For those
looking from outside, the question will become more
stark: to support Maoist leaders who back the peace
process and help UCPN(M) consolidate as a nonviolent party or to push them further into a corner
until extreme elements turn their backs on peace and
are encouraged into confrontation.
A. War by Other Means
The Nepalese Army never embraced the peace process. Feeling let down by Gyanendra and inadequately
represented by the mainstream parties in the peace
talks, its top brass reluctantly offered token assurances
of abiding by the CPA even as they adjusted to continuing the conflict by other means.
In this they were led by a hardened royalist who had
never made any secret of his contempt for democratic
values, Chief of Army Staff General Rookmangud
Katawal. His succession as chief following the April
2006 people's movement had not been assured. Party
politicians recalled his pro-palace fulminations supporting Gyanendra's seizures of power.71 Human rights
activists, including some who later urged that he be
protected from dismissal, were so concerned at his
wartime record as a divisional commander that they
wrote to the UN Secretary-General asking him to intervene to block his succession.72 Interim Prime Min-
See "Maovadi rashtriya samyukta sarkarko pakshama", Janadesh, 30 June 2009; and "Rashtriya sarkar nabanai sukhai
chhaina", interview, Saptahik Bimarsha, 3 July 2009.
These were published under the nom-de-plume of "Ajay
P. Nath". Most were unrestrained royalist polemics arguing,
for example, in favour of "enlightened despotism" in place
of "chaotic democracy". Ajay P. Nath, "Democracy: is it just
for voting right?", The Rising Nepal, 5 September 2002.
72 "We strongly protest the decision ofthe cabinet meting of
14th August, 2006 regarding the promotion of Lieutenant
General Rukmangat Katuwal in to the post of acting Army
Chief of Nepal. Appointment of Mr. Katuwal is against the
spirit ofthe people's movement of 2006 as he is one ofthe
key persons involved in suppressing the people movement
in the past. Mr. Katuwal was also accused by different national human rights organisations including the National
Human Rights Commission of Nepal and international human rights organisations for the incidences of disappearances of detainees, rape of girls and killings of innocent
people in the mid west region specially in Banke and Bardiya when he was the chief of the regional headquarters of
Nepali Army, in mid western region, Nepalgunj". "Press
Release by Human Rights Community of Nepal protesting
the appointment of Rukmangat Katuwal as acting Chief of
the Army Staff, 15 August 2006. On 4 September 2006,
the same activists sent a letter titled "Denunciation of Nepal's acting Military Chief and Amendment of Army Act"
to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan requesting him "to
persuade the Nepal Government to immediately remove
Mr. Katuwal from the position of acting Army Chief and
guarantee that all allegations of human rights violations
purported to have taken place under his command are thoroughly and impartially investigated by an independent body".
By early 2009, however, some of the main movers behind
that step had shifted to urging that the army and its chief
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Page 14
ister Koirala had been on the receiving end of his successful efforts, alongside other senior officers, to intimidate the interim government into insulating the NA
from action for its role commanding security forces
that killed and injured protestors during the people's
A reform-minded army chief could have been a key
player in making the peace process work, while guarding against politicisation of the military. Instead, the
NA was increasingly geared to fighting a crude propaganda war against threats to its autonomy and against
the Maoists. It rejected outright the CPA call, written
into the interim constitution, for its democratisation
and reduction to an appropriate peace-time size.74 It
publicly claimed credit for cooperating with UNMIN
while privately sowing doubts about its neutrality.
While General Katawal railed at "Comrade Ian Martin" - for him, the former UN Special Representative
of the Secretary-General (SRSG) was as good as a
Maoist - his officers briefed foreign defence attaches
that the Maoists' suborning of embassies and UN agencies was a "fait accompli".75
The NA spearheaded the campaign to undermine the
Maoist government, calling for a "united front" to
fight the Maoists, even while nominally acknowledging their post-election legitimacy. It was not only
indulged by politicians and commentators but encouraged to fill the vacuum left by weak democratic parties. While the NC has yet to muster coherent policies
on most central constitutional issues, the NA produced
lengthy documents setting out a comprehensive national
political agenda. It called for agreed steps such as
secularism and federalism to be tested by referendums
and for King Prithvinarayan Shah, the founder of
modern Nepal and symbol of the unitary state, to be
constitutionally recognised as the emblem of national
Freed from the need to report to a powerful palace, it
has been quick to seize control of its own affairs and
to underline its deeply conservative take on national
affairs. In this it has had the tacit support of key international actors. India has stood firm in its determination that the army "not be touched" until the peace
process is complete. General Katawal was granted unprecedented prestige on a December 2007 visit, meeting India's president and foreign minister as well as
receiving a strikingly warm public welcome. China
has courted the Maoists but never objected to the military-palace combine and still seeks good relations
with the NA.
The UK has not deviated from the position it adopted
when inviting General Katawal for a high-profile red-
carpet visit: security sector reform is essential but the
generals must not be upset. The U.S., privately much
more critical of the NA's political involvement, is
similarly committed to maintaining the "constructive
engagement" of military training. It has moved on from
the days when it actively endorsed military adventurism but has suffered from its own legacy of engaging
and supporting only the "legitimate" security forces.77
That may now be counterbalanced by tough new restrictions on military assistance, which demand cooperation with war crimes investigations and support for
integrating Maoist combatants into the armed forces.78
the same General Katawal, be protected from Maoist interference. A public appeal, signed primarily by UML and NC
activists and affiliates and speaking of "the need to keep the
... national army above debate and away from party influence" was coordinated by one of the signatories to the 2006
appeals. "Our Appeal on the Occasion of Loktantra Day: A
statement by 19 citizens", Kathmandu, 24 April 2009.
73 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Peace Agreement, op. cit.
74 "Naya samvidhan nirman garna gathit vibhinna samitiha-
ruko lagi avashyak sujhavharu", Nepalese Army, document
submitted to the CA, February 2009. For an outline of the
"top secret" suggestions, see Aditya Adhikari, "A people's
army?", The Kathmandu Post, 24 February 2009.
75 The army viewed the effort to "exploit diplomatic missions/
UN bodies (e.g. UNOHCHR)" as an already completed part
of the Maoist "gameplan", whose aim is to "subvert state institutions until they become instruments of Maoist Party and
all opposition to the Maoist Party is removed or negated".
"Management of integration of Maoist combatants", NA
briefing to defence attaches of foreign missions in Kathmandu, March 2009.
"Naya samvidhan ...", Nepalese Army, op. cit.
77 See Crisis Group Briefing, Nepal's Fragile Peace Process,
op. cit, p. 10.
78 "Funds appropriated by this Act under the heading 'Foreign Military Financing Program' may be made available
for assistance for Nepal if the Secretary of State certifies to
the Committees on Appropriations that the Nepali Armed
Forces (NAF) are - (A) cooperating fully with investigations and prosecutions by civilian judicial authorities of
violations of internationally recognized human rights; and
(B) working constructively to redefine the NAF's mission,
implement reforms including establishment of a civilian
ministry of defense to support budget transparency and accountability, and facilitate the assimilation of former rebel
combatants into the NAF consistent with the goals of reconciliation, peace and stability". Fiscal Year 2010 Foreign
Operations Appropriations Act, S1434, U.S. Congress, 9
July 2009.
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B.  State Army or Army State?
"State is state", General Katawal is fond of saying. By
this he means that the Maoists can never aspire to a
legitimacy that is the state's alone. The army sees
itself as having defined the nation, rather than the
other way round. In its own words, "the history of
Nepal, in one sense, is largely a history ofthe RNA".79
The army's view is that it is not merely a loyal guardian of Nepal's unity and sovereignty but its progenitor
and sole custodian. It envisages a powerful role at the
heart of the state, formally advising on any matter
tangentially related to national security through powerful army-dominated institutions and informally advising politicians on all fundamental policy issues.80
The NA has resisted both external control and internal
reform. Its resistance has exacerbated the lack of political will to build functioning accountability mechanisms. If politicians cross its red lines, it is quick to
communicate its displeasure, rarely leaving room for
misinterpretation. When Prime Minister Nepal was
quoted as offering integration into the NA for 5,000
Maoist combatants,81 a large group of top generals, led
by the COAS, promptly descended on him to express
their displeasure. (The NA later described this as a
"regular meeting".82) As with interim premiers Krishna
Prasad Bhattarai in 1990 and G.P. Koirala in 2006, the
NA does not hesitate to lean on any prime minister
who shows signs of stepping out of line.83
"RNA History", Royal Nepalese Army, undated, p. 28,
formerly available at
history.pdf (accessed October 2006). The phrase has been
updated to remove the "Royal" and included in The Nepalese Army: A force with history, ready for tomorrow (Kathmandu, 2008), a glossy coffee-table public relations effort.
80See "Naya samvidhan ...", Nepalese Army, op. cit. and
"Nepalko rashtriya mul niti", Nepalese Army, 2008/2009.
81 In an interview with a reputable news outlet that he subsequently claimed had misrepresented his position. "Nepal
PM says Maoist peace process stalled", Reuters, 25 June
82 "Nepal Army annoyed: PM says he was misquoted",
Telegraph Weekly (online), 27 June 2009.
83The generals who visited the prime minister's office on
26 June 2009 to voice their dissatisfaction reportedly included Chhatraman Singh Gurung, Toran Bahadur Singh,
Gaurav Shamsher Rana, Nepal Bhushan Chand, Keshav Raj
Mahat and Anil Jung Thapa. "Nepal Army annoyed: PM says
he was misquoted", Telegraph Weekly (online), 27 June 2009.
The senior commanders were also said to have pressed their
case for a large budget increase. "Army top brass at PM's
door", Himalayan News Service, 27 June 2009.
The NA's political clout has been facilitated by an often
timorous, and always intimidated, media. Although
the taboo on discussing army matters is breaking down,
critics receive prompt and unsubtle warnings that they
should keep their views to themselves.84 The U.S.-
funded and trained psy-ops unit, conspicuously ineffective during the conflict, has finally picked up momentum as a tool for monitoring open debate. It is
most likely the source of the multiple, often near-
identical, pseudonymous letters to the media defending the army and attacking Maoists and independent
analysts alike.85 Editors report that General Katawal's
personal cultivation of major advertisers offers direct
leverage over media barons keen to protect their only
reliable source of income.86 For all the talk of indirect
Maoist censorship through threats, the NA has been
shielded from criticism far more than the UCPN(M).
As brave commentators have opened up a better informed discussion, the army has resorted to increasingly
desperate measures to scare off critics. Previously unknown "security experts", who reflect senior officers'
opinions with uncanny accuracy, have become prolific
contributors to the press without showing any other
signs of existing in real life.87 Army officers complain
in private that no one speaks for them. They would
An illustration of the increased public attention that is being paid to security matters are the two special supplements
published by the Annapurna Post daily on the army's place
in the new constitution (10 May 2009) and questions of national security policy (5 July 2009). It is indicative, however, that the former did not explicitly discuss the NA's
own detailed constitutional proposals in any of its eight in-
depth pages of analysis - despite the fact that the NA's
views were well reflected indirectly.
85 For example, the letters of Robin Paudyal detailed in fn.
87 below.
86 Crisis Group interviews, editors of English and Nepali
language dailies, Kathmandu, July 2009.
87 For example, "Dr Ramesh Dahal" and "Robin Paudyal"
have offered NA headquarters-styled opinions in the pages of
the largest-selling English-language daily. See Ramesh Dahal, "They are guilty too", The Kathmandu Post, 8 March
2008; "Autopsy on UNMIN report", The Kathmandu Post,
31 July 2008; "Milestone on the Maoist roadmap", The
Kathmandu Post, 19 March 2009; and, at the height of the
COAS crisis, the self-explanatory "Leave the army alone",
The Kathmandu Post, 28 April 2009. The preferred genre of
the peripatetic Robin Paudyal, who has moved from "Boston,
USA" to "Germany", is the letter to the editor. For example,
"Erroneous deductions", letter, The Kathmandu Post, 16 May
2009; "Suspicious", letter, The Kathmandu Post, 29 May
2009; "Watchdog or lapdog", letter, The Kathmandu Post, 10
July 2009; "Diplomatic blunder", letter, The Kathmandu
Post, 24 July 2009; "Biased diplomacy", letter, The Kathmandu Post, 2 August 2009. Neither Dr Dahal nor Mr Paudyal responded to Crisis Group communications.
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Page 16
like to have representation on the AISC and feel their
interests and expertise have not been properly considered in discussions of national security.88 The feeling
of injustice is sincere and deeply held. Unfortunately,
clumsy propaganda and private lobbying are unlikely
to address these concerns in a constructive fashion.
Nevertheless, the army has been subject to some constraints on its behaviour. It has not won as great a
budget increase as it pushed for (see below). While
mostly successful, it has had to argue the case for endorsement of its proposed officer promotions. It secured promotion for its legal chief, B.A. Kumar Sharma,
who played an important role in offering misleading
excuses for the August 2003 Doramba massacre that
contributed to destroying the peace talks.89 On 13 luly
the new cabinet made him a major-general and upgraded the legal department, which has tirelessly resisted any meaningful investigation of war crimes.
The proposed elevation of Toran Bahadur Singh, the
commander whose battalion tortured and disappeared
dozens of suspected Maoist activists in 2003-2004, is
on hold.90 The NA had earlier proposed Singh as a UN
military adviser but the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations decided his record made him unacceptable; he remains on a U.S. blacklist. The pressure the UML-led government is under is illustrated
by their reluctance to block the promotion even of the
officer believed responsible for the murder of one of
their parliamentarians during the royal rule period.91
These concerns extend across the political spectrum, from
royalist and passionately anti-Maoist officers to much more
liberal individuals. Crisis Group interviews, senior NA officers, multiple locations, 2009.
89 When the National Human Rights Commission questioned these killings, Sharma complained that it had always
been protective of the Maoists and that its existence would
be threatened if it continued in such behaviour. "None
should underestimate the army, which is an integrated and
strong institution", he cautioned, "otherwise the results will
not be good". "RNA begins probe into Doramba clash",
The Himalayan Times, 25 August 2003. The belligerent
tone and content of such warnings has changed little.
90 On the proposed promotion, see Khim Ghale, "Vivadas-
pad jarnelko badhuva sipharis", Kantipur, 1 July 2009. On
the delay in implementing it, see Kiran Chapagain, "Bhandari suspends Maj Gen Singh's promotion, Republica, 6
July 2009.
91 NA headquarters has recommended the promotion of Lt-
Col. Babu Krishna Karki, who is accused of responsibility
for the killing of Hem Narayan Yadav, an MP from Defence Minister Bhandari's UML party. "Samsadlai birsera
senasita hatemalo", Jana Aastha, 8 July 2009. As a pro-
Maoist report pointed out, Katawal's protection of Karki
suggests contempt for a parliamentary inquiry instituted in
May 2006 under NC MP Anand Prasad Dhungana, which
Obliged to pay lip service to the courts, which have
generally issued favourable rulings or obligingly sat
on the fence, it could yet fall foul of independent-
minded judges. Its officers well understand international norms of civilian control, albeit in comfortingly
abstract rather than compellingly immediate terms.
Furthermore, the NA's distaste for the essence ofthe
peace process has not prevented it from observing almost all of the ceasefire conditions. It has remained
disciplined and has not made good on private threats
of military intervention although, as the next section
explains, it has tried to create conditions to do so.
In short, the NA is not running amok and its commanders, collectively at least, are not immune to the compulsions ofthe real world. With no political will to control it, it has stretched the culture of unaccountability
and impunity to the limit. But its bark is worse than its
bite. It will come to heel if there is concerted, cross-
party determination to approach state security issues
seriously. Until then, the tail will wag the dog - and
the generals will strive to make the next steps of
Nepal's development "largely a history ofthe NA".
Continued observance of CPA formalities is far from
guaranteed. Generals have not hidden their desire for a
decisive, "do or die" assault on the Maoists. They have
increasingly argued that the stalemate in the insurgency was solely attributable to external factors rather
than lack of army capacity: Gyanendra let them down
with his foolhardy and underdeveloped political strategy; international backers froze support just when they
needed it most; the NA was constrained by its own determination to minimise casualties and treat the Maoists as "misguided brothers and sisters" rather than
military opponents.
Such arguments are tenuous at best. They have been
deployed not for their accuracy but to salvage wounded
pride and, for some, to support the argument that
Nepal needs a "Sri Lanka solution": an intensely bloody
endgame in which Prachanda would play the part of
Prabhakaran, the late leader ofthe Tamil Tigers. The
Maoists appear weakened and, concentrated in cantonments with their weapons stored in containers, are
tactically vulnerable; non-Maoist parties are disillusioned with their broken promises; Delhi has gone cold
on them and would like rid ofthe Naxalites' comrades-
had recommended action against accused officers. Santosh
Paudel, "Emale samsadko hatyaralai katawalko samrakshan",
Janadisha, 29 April 2009.
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Page 17
in-arms. But even most staunch anti-Maoists realise a
military victory is a pipe dream.
The retirement of General Katawal may dampen the
push for war from the NA top brass. But the more bellicose elements will not be marginalised until peace is
consolidated on the basis of unquestionably democratic values. Some in India have publicised their willingness to tolerate army rule to counter Maoist entrenchment or disorder.92 Nepal's own elites have
been indulgent towards warlike rhetoric. The NA risks
being dragged further into the political mire, while its
soldiers risk being used in a private campaign to renew hostilities which would put them back on the
frontline of an unwinnable conflict.
D. The Sacred and the Profane
Generals, politicians and Indian diplomats alike frequently invoke the importance of protecting the army's
"sanctity".93 But the messy battle over the COAS has
left the supposed saints looking somewhat tainted.
The panic at the prospect of one chief passing on the
baton to his deputy suggested the chain of command
is not quite as "sacrosanct" as the NA would have outsiders believe.
"If replacing one 60-year-old Army veteran with another is all it takes for the Maoists to establish a monopoly over the instruments of force in Nepal, then the
situation there is clearly much more fragile than anyone has ever imagined".94 But supporters ofthe presi-
B. Raman, "Valid reasons for a military take-over in Nepal",
South Asia Analysis Group Paper No. 2683, 27 April 2008.
93 The term has been used intensively by NA officers and
their supporters in the transitional period. For example, one
fortnightly magazine whose publisher almost invariably uses
his regular editorial to encourage the NA to step in and save
the country, expressed it as: "[The armed forces] must not
be indoctrinated with any political ideology. Politicians are
expendable, not the Nepali army. Its sanctity and impartiality must be preserved at all costs. The Nepal army, we trust,
knows well about this". Spotlight, 24 October 2008. General Katawal used his speech at a function commemorating
50 years of contributions to UN peacekeeping to insist that
"in the name of democratisation, the army's purity, sanctity,
and integrity should never be compromised". "Nepal Army:
key promoter and defender of democracy", excerpts of
COAS speech, People's Review, 3 July 2008. The NA's
"sanctity" is presumably referred to in Indian foreign ministry internal memos. It is almost unfailingly quoted by any
Indian diplomat who touches on the topic. Crisis Group interviews, Indian diplomats, Kathmandu, New Delhi and
New York, June-July 2009.
94Siddharth Varadarajan, "India's Nepal policy in disarray",
The Hindu, 7 May 2009.
dent's move argued that this one step would indeed
have led to the collapse ofthe state. As one close observer put it, "the president had at least twenty of the
24 political parties in the country telling him that his
failure to undo what Prachanda had done would lead
to total capture of power by the Maoists".95 An article
jointly authored by a retired NA major-general accepts
the Khadka conspiracy and suggests it must have involved a wider group within the army: "Khadka was
probably not alone in this hellish conspiracy and heads
must roll".96
Either the NA is in a truly parlous state or exaggerated
fears of an imminent Maoist takeover through reshuffling have been deliberately been fanned to justify
blocking Katawal's dismissal. If his number two could
indeed be so readily suborned it makes a mockery of
the NA's insistence on its discipline, professionalism
and insulation from politics. Ifthe second man cannot
be trusted, public faith in the institution and in the integrity ofthe top command will be damaged.
Katawal has won the battle but the NA has been
weakened. While its supporters are energised, the
carefully maintained charade of distance from politics
has worn very thin. A televised video ofthe NA's top
three underlining their unity was less than fully convincing. Although personal and political tensions in
the army's upper ranks have long been visible internally, the dirty linen has now been washed in public
view. The army's image has been tarnished and the
task of Katawal's successor has been made more difficult. Internal rifts are likely to grow.
The many officers already concerned at their chiefs
overly political behaviour may be more uneasy at the
possible fallout ofthe latest incidents. Those who feel
they have been passed over for promotion or training
opportunities due to internal factionalism are more
frustrated than ever - in particular given General Katawal's son's felicitous securing of a coveted staff college berth amid a field of deserving candidates. This
background, coupled with slight unease among party
leaders and in New Delhi over Katawal's brazen politicking, compromised his chances of a term extension
- and could yet put paid to efforts to find him an influential berth in the president's office.97 Ultimately,
the army is an institution. It not only survived Gyanen-
Yubaraj Ghimire, "The camera hasn't lied", Indian Express, 7 May 2009.
96Shashi P.B.B. Malla, Pradip P.B. Malla and Narendra
P.B. Malla, "Collapse of the Maoist grand strategy", People 's Review, 7 May 2009.
97 Gen. Katawal applied for one month's leave before his 9
September retirement in line with traditional practice.
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Page 18
dra's downfall but thrived. Its top brass may yet collectively decide they would be similarly well served
by moving on decisively after the current chief retires.
India had a long-term strategy for peace in Nepal. New
Delhi was instrumental in shaping the November 2005
twelve-point agreement and guiding developments after that. Although it never publicly acknowledged its
role in the early negotiations that brought the Maoists
and other parties into an alliance against the king, its
role as facilitator and guarantor of the deal was never
in doubt.98 At times when the process stalled, in particular in late 2007, India exerted significant diplomatic pressure to maintain momentum for elections, and
to whip other international players into line.99
But New Delhi has gone cold on its own original plan,
preferring the short-term pursuit of immediate interests to the hard graft of supporting a complex process
through its ups and downs. Its determination to guard
against any reform ofthe security sector has remained
undimmed, despite contradicting the CPA. Its interventions have been embarrassingly undisguised, dragging
the Indian foreign minister, foreign secretary and ambassador into low-level Kathmandu politicking.100 Meddling in Nepal's affairs is nothing new or surprising.
But the revised approach threatens the prospects for
stability and, unless reconsidered, will fail to secure the
core national interests New Delhi believes it is pursuing.
India's initial exertions for peace were motivated in
large part by a confident, but mistaken, assumption that
the elections would deliver a serious defeat to the
Maoists - offering them just enough of a stake in multiparty politics to cement their move away from insurgency but leaving them little bargaining power when
it came to negotiating the final demobilising of their
forces. New Delhi initially adjusted gracefully to the
reality of a decisive Maoist victory but many influential figures were deeply concerned. Second thoughts
about the wisdom of having facilitated the UCPN(M)'s
entry into electoral politics were exacerbated by worries at increasing Chinese influence.
Senior Maoist leader and former finance minister Baburam Bhattarai claimed that India mishandled the
On India's role in shaping and tacitly underwriting the
twelve-point agreement, see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
New Alliance, op. cit., pp. 15-16.
99 See, for example, Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°72, Nepal: Peace Postponed, 18 December 2007, pp. 12-13.
100This behaviour was predictable. As a Crisis Group report
put it one year earlier: India "appears to have lost none of
its appetite for interventionist micro-management and remains happy to shield the Nepal Army (NA) from democratic reform". Crisis Group Report, Nepal's New Political
Landscape, op. cit, p. 13.
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Page 19
COAS crisis because politicians were too busy with
elections and left it to blundering bureaucrats.101 It is
true that Indian political leaders, including ministers,
have taken remarkably little responsibility for Nepal
policy (see below). But diplomats have done little
more than zealously follow instructions crafted by
senior bureaucrats with ministerial approval.
A. Chinese Whispers
Chinese influence is near the top of New Delhi's concerns over Nepal. It is often the first factor officials
and analysts cite when asked to comment on the problems of the Maoist-led government. There can be no
doubt that the Maoists' pursuit of better relations with
Beijing crossed India's red lines.102 At the same time,
there is little evidence to support the theory that either
the Maoists or China would have sought, or achieved,
a dramatic strategic realignment.
A rash of stories in the Indian press a few days after
the fall of the Maoist government suggested, on the
basis of unidentified sources, that China had encouraged Prachanda to up the ante. "While India was inviting popular opprobrium in Nepal trying to prevent
Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda from sacking the
army chief, one report ran, "China at the same time
sent messages to Prachanda pledging support for doing just the opposite! According to sources monitoring
events in Nepal during those crucial days, China reportedly told Prachanda to stick to his guns and they
would support him".103
Such theories conveniently overshadowed unflattering
headlines about Indian policy miscalculations; they
also implied that whatever role New Delhi might have
had in protecting Katawal was part of a larger strategic battle with China. There is, however, no evidence
that China incited the Maoists to sack the COAS, although the offer for PLA officer training probably had
been on the table. Indeed, one senior Indian diplomat
underlined that China's line differed little from India's:
"I don't think Prachanda heard anything from [the
Chinese ambassador] that he didn't hear from us: I
101 "India blundered, lost the respect it once had", interview,
Outlook, 18 May 2009.
102 As one more sympathetic retired Indian official put it,
"The way the Maoists cosied up to China makes it simply
impossible to defend them [in Delhi]. However unfairly
Delhi may have treated them, they just went too far". Crisis
Group interview, New Delhi, June 2009.
103 "China pushed Prachanda into sacking army chief:
Sources", The Times of India, 9 May 2009.
understand that he counselled caution and urged the
prime minister to build consensus for any such step".104
"Maoist intentions surfaced from Day One when Prachanda chose to visit China before India as his first
foreign visit. Instead of sending a tough diplomatic
message, India lobbied hard and ensured he visits
India soon after", complained one commentator, who
viewed a proposed new bilateral cooperation treaty as
an "all-changing peace and friendship agreement".105
In this view, Prachanda's planned visit to Beijing in
early May to sign the treaty was a reward for cooperation, and in particular for cracking down on Tibetan
refugees and protestors. The cancellation of the trip
was therefore a victory for India: Prachanda "would
have liked to sack the army chief and go to Beijing to
sign the agreement; but, clearly, his calculations were
a little off.106
The concern at Chinese influence is not new. As a
former Indian intelligence officer and prolific regional
analyst expressed it:
China would try its best to see that the Maoists stay
in power. Their continuance in power in Kathmandu
is important for stability in Tibet. In the past, we
supported Maoists thinking that Prachanda would
take a neutral line between India and China. These
hopes are elusive. Should we facilitate the Chinese
designs in Nepal by bringing about a political compromise which would enable the Maoists to continue in power or has the time come to work for a
non-Maoist alternative? This requires serious examination in our policy-making circles.107
Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, May 2009.
105Pranab Dhal Samanta, "Process in pieces", Indian Express, 5 May 2009.
106 Ibid. Such an interpretation is widely shared. Nepal "had
taken a conscious decision to balance India's influence with
China's", observed another well placed New Delhi journalist "An unprecedented 38 Chinese delegations have visited
Nepal over the last year. India made no secret of the fact
that it took a dim view of the proposed visit by Prachanda
to China last week (he quit before that) to sign a treaty with
that country that mimics the 1950 Treaty of Friendship between the Nepal and India, a document unique to the relationship between the two countries". Aditi Phadnis, "Once
a revolutionary ...", Business Standard, 8 May 2009.
107 B. Raman, "China wants Prachanda to stay in Nepal",, 4 May 2009. In an earlier paper, the same analyst had cautioned against such a situation: "China has a
Look South policy to counter our Look East policy. As we
try to move Eastwards to cultivate the countries of South-
East Asia, it is trying to move southwards to outflank us.
China is not a South Asian power, but it already has a
growing South Asian strategic presence - in Pakistan, Sri
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One former foreign minister observed that such fears
were becoming a reality: "We are pouring a thousand
crores [ten billion rupees] into Nepal. Yet China is
more active in Nepal than we are. Prachanda feels
quite comfortable with that".108 In New Delhi's views
of China, perceptions matter as much as reality, if not
more. Fears over Chinese influence in Nepal form part
of a larger picture. "It's not just about Nepal", cautioned one Indian diplomat. "It's how it fits into a
broader pattern of worrying behaviour".109 India-China
relations have become more fraught. For example, one
article on growing tensions, centred on border disputes and increased militarisation in India's north east,
For decades, India, badly bruised from its defeat at
the hands of China, opted to back down in the face
of Chinese intimidation. That is now changing. It is
this newly assertive Indian posture that is bothering China. Indian analysts believe that neither of
the two countries wants to go to war. But they are
not ruling out the possibility of China carrying out
a limited military operation ... It is to be prepared
now that India is building its military muscle in
Further expert talk of possible military clashes hints at
heightened mistrust.111
Lanka and Bangladesh. It is hoping to acquire a similar presence in Nepal with the co-operation of a Maoist-dominated
Government. ... India will find itself in Nepal in a situation
not dissimilar to the situation in Myanmar - all the time
having to compete with China for political influence and
economic benefits. Till now, India almost monopolised the
strategic playing field in Nepal. Now, there will be a second
player in China". B. Raman, "Rise of Maoists in Nepal:
Implications for India", paper presented at a seminar organised by the Asia Centre, Bangalore, 9 August 2008, at www.
108K. Natwar Singh, "Neighbourhood in turmoil", Indian
Express, 5 May 2009.
109 Crisis Group interview, Indian diplomat, July 2009.
110Sudha Ramachandran, "Indian might met with Chinese
threats", Asia Times, 10 July 2009.
111 "A leading defence expert has projected that China will
attack India by 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from 'unprecedented' internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the
hold of Communists in that country. 'China will launch an
attack on India before 2012. There are multiple reasons for
a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby
ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century,' Bharat
Verma, Editor of the Indian Defence Review, has said".
"Nervous China may attack India by 2012: Expert", Press
Trust of India, 12 July 2009.
In this context, some analysts in Kathmandu suggested
India might have pushed the Maoists towards a crisis
over the army precisely to thwart Prachanda's trip to
Beijing to sign the proposed treaty.112 Prachanda himself has hinted at such a theory, using an interview
with the Indian press to say that the withdrawal of
support to the Maoist-led government could have been
"a planned strategy or a coincidence": "there are forces
that did not want the (Beijing) visit to take place. A lot
of things were being said about the trip".113 While acknowledging the desire to conclude a friendship treaty,
he insisted this would have had "no negative impact
on our friendship with India" and noted the "imaginary
fear in Indian political circles that Maoists [might]
play the China card against India".114
China has, as ever, remained tight-lipped on Nepal's
internal politics. Its relations with the UCPN(M) -
which it long abjured - have certainly warmed but it
has also kept in close contact with other parties. Such
links are by no means confined to communists. During the period of Maoist-led rule, senior NC and UML
delegations were also invited to Beijing.115 Chinese
diplomats exhibited some fondness for the royal family; they have also enjoyed very cordial relations with
new Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala. In all such relations China appears to reap decent rewards for very
little outlay. It did not lavish money on the Maoist
government (or party), just as its royalist sympathies
led to only negligible practical assistance, be it financial or military, following the royal coup. If nothing
else, this rate of return on cautious investments looks
shrewd. Spendthrift New Delhi, in contrast, often loses
the support of the very parties, politicians and local
communities that it so generously showers with financial inducements.
For example, one (rampantly anti-Indian but also anti-
Maoist) weekly suggested that Indian intelligence operatives
instigated the crisis to derail the visit. "RAW mission successful?", People's Review, 7 May 2009.
113 "We'll not bow to foreign pressure: Prachanda", The
Times of India, 9 May 2009.
115 An NC delegation, headed by Vice-President Prakash
Man Singh, had also visited China before an official postelection party trip to India had taken place ("After Prachanda, Koirala's party heads for China",, 29
August 2008). MJF leader Upendra Yadav visited Beijing
in April 2009 as foreign minister ("China to increase aid:
FM Yadav", The Kathmandu Post, 18 April 2009). In the
same month, UML leader Jhalanath Khanal led a party
delegation in response to an invitation by China's communist party for a week-long visit ("Nepal UML on a trip to
late Chairman Mao's land", The Telegraph Weekly, 19
April 2009). His own trip was cut short by the COAS crisis.
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China's top priority in Nepal is to stifle any Tibetan
protests or other "anti-Chinese" activities on Nepali soil.
On this topic, Chinese diplomats are vocal, unsubtle
and rigidly consistent. Nepali governments of any
political colour have little choice but to bow to their
powerful neighbour's primary concern; leftist parties,
and in particular the UCPN(M), have done so assiduously and sometimes enthusiastically.
At the same time, Beijing has given India grounds for
suspicion. The flurry of high-level visits suggested a
much greater political interest and efforts to expand
influence. The sight of Nepal expert Professor Wang
Hongwei, based at Beijing's Institute of Asia-Pacific
Studies but often viewed as an informal envoy and
policy-shaper, seated among Nepali PLA commanders
wearing one oftheir combat jackets was not reassuring.116 Beijing was happy to engage the Maoists on military matters. Defence minister Thapa looked to China
for support on integration;117 Beijing also offered non-
lethal military aid.118 It reportedly offered professional
training to senior PLA commanders - a logical step in
the service of integration but at odds with India and
the NA's refusal to contemplate any high-level officer
Of course, neighbours' assurances of non-intervention
should always be taken with a large pinch of salt, especially as Nepal is sandwiched between such huge
powers. Nevertheless, the evidence that China is interfering or pursuing hidden agendas is most notable for
its absence. It certainly views Nepal as lying on an
important strategic boundary at the juncture of its and
India's spheres of influence but, apart from boosting
commercial ties and establishing a number of China
study centres, including in the Tarai, shows no signs of
wishing to push that boundary south ofthe Himalayas.
China's long-term intentions towards Nepal are not inherently benign: they depend entirely on China's perceived self-interest, which could demand less friendly
approaches. But for now, its mantra of non-interference
in internal affairs looks close to the truth.120 "What
See Bhojraj Bhat, "Chiyars! Naya nata", Nepal, 17 June
2007. The photograph featured on the cover of the magazine, a popular weekly with a large circulation.
117Phanindra Dahal, "Thapa seeks Chinese help on integration", The Kathmandu Post, 8 December 2008.
118 "China agrees to provide non-lethal military support",
The Rising Nepal, 9 December 2008.
119 Maoist leaders apparently prevailed on the PLA commanders to decline the offer for fear it would ignite controversy. Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, July 2009.
120 The difference with India is most striking in New York
where China, an SC member, is almost silent on Nepal while
India, not an SC member and vocally committed to Nepal's
China is doing in Nepal is to help the country achieve
development and stability", explained a Chinese diplomat. "This is in line with China's international role
and the aspirations of the international community.
We are not stopping any other country doing the same
for Nepal".121
New Delhi's desire to prevent a complete Maoist takeover and forestall dangerously radical change has led
it to embrace the NA, endorse its red lines and argue
that it must remain untouched. At the same time, it insists that the Maoist "course correction" it has pushed
for must include full compliance with the UCPN(M)'s
commitments and, preferably, a unilateral renunciation of PLA-NA integration.122 "We're not saying the
water in the bottle is entirely clear", said one policymaker, speaking metaphorically of the NA's purity.
"But you won't fix that by adding more dirt [Maoist
combatants] to the bottle. Prachanda should prove his
sincerity by announcing that he will drop the demand
for integration".123
Indian officials are united in emphasising that they gave
the Maoists a more than fair chance. "We didn't stop
them forming a government and we didn't interfere in
their decisions", said one. "It's not our fault if they
themselves were incapable of seizing the opportunity
to deliver anything".124 Diplomats are quick to recall
Prachanda's September 2008 Delhi visit: "When he
came here we rolled out the red carpet. We made
promises and so did he. We fulfilled them all and he
reneged on them all".125 Underlying such complaints
is a strong, widely held perception that Maoist vows
to abandon violence and play by the rules were either
weak or patently insincere.
The push for good behaviour makes sense but the logic
of expecting unilateral Maoist concessions in the face
of intransigence from the other side is questionable. It
depends on the Maoists being too weak and disunited
to resist such a plan. But such an assessment is more
wishful thinking than hard-headed analysis, as some
independence, is tirelessly strident in its advocacy of
Nepal's "sovereign" views.
121 Crisis Group interview, Chinese diplomat, Beijing, July
122 Crisis Group interview, senior government official, New
Delhi, June 2009.
123 Crisis Group interview, senior government official, New
Delhi, June 2009.
124 Crisis Group interview, New Delhi, June 2009.
125 Crisis Group interview, senior government official, New
Delhi, June 2009.
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Page 22
observers realise.126 If the Maoist transition towards
peaceful democratic norms was halting while they
were in power, it is likely to be even less sustained in
Indian policymakers make little effort to conceal their
grave doubts about the central predicate of the peace
process they brokered: that the Maoists could embrace
political pluralism and reject violence. Instead, those
who argue that this was not the case, and never will
be, are now getting a more serious hearing.
India's public pronouncements and diplomatic posture
indicate confusion. Officials reinterpret the peace deal
and question its tenets but neither publicly nor privately acknowledge the evident change in stance.127
They do not seriously analyse the implications oftheir
revised interventions. While frequently invoking the
need for a Maoist "course correction", Indian policymakers appear not to notice their own change of
course or weigh its risks.
Part of the problem is that India, like the various par-
ties in Nepal, did not do a good job of selling the
peace process to all of its own constituencies. Most
publicly, the opposition Bharatiya lanata Party (BIP)
and pro-Hindutva groups were appalled at the apparent
facilitation of a movement aimed to topple the Hindu
monarchy; they complained that the Congress-led government had "outsourced" Nepal policy to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).128 Powerful players
Many of those outside government who regularly follow
Nepal developments from different political and institutional
perspectives concur that recent developments have harmed
India's reputation and interests. But all complain that a
flurry of seminars and other government hints at consultation have had no impact on policy thinking. Crisis Group
interviews, New Delhi, June 2009.
127 Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood questioned whether the
CPA prescribes any form of integration of PLA combatants
into the NA: "This idea that integration is into the army and
rehabilitation is into society are your words, they are not
there in the peace agreement". "Consensus is the need of
the hour", interview, The Kathmandu Post, 15 June 2009.
While the CPA does indeed not offer definitions of the
terms integration and rehabilitation, the subsequent Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and
Annies (AMMAA) clearly specifies "possible integration
with the security bodies after fulfilling the standard norms"
for registered PLA combatants (AMMAA, paragraph 4.1.3).
The AMMAA is incorporated as a schedule of the interim
128 Leader ofthe Opposition L.K. Advani, the BJP's prime
ministerial candidate in India's May 2009 general election,
within the bureaucracy and other limbs ofthe state were
also dismayed. The Indian army, already unhappy at
the freeze on military assistance to the post-coup royal
government, was unimpressed at the prospect of shepherding the Maoists into open politics and remains determinedly unreconciled to the concept of integrating
Maoist combatants into the NA. Others in the foreign
policy and security establishment have become more
sympathetic to these concerns.
The excessively covert approach to the twelve-point
agreement did not help.129 The legwork was left to intelligence agents and the gradual shifts in policy towards the Maoists and the monarchy were never clearly
acknowledged or explained. The rubric of "supporting
the wishes of the Nepali people" belied, as ever, the
intense involvement in all aspects of political developments. However, there has been little political discussion in New Delhi of policies framed primarily by
civil servants. And while major decisions were taken
at a ministerial level, the implementation of policy and
the revision of short-term goals has been the result of
opaque bureaucratic manoeuvrings with little public
questioning or political oversight.
Indian policymakers often preface comments with
phrases such as, "We cherish Nepal's independence and
sovereignty but ..." In fact, New Delhi does not view
Nepal as a fully foreign or fully sovereign country.
However, India lacks the direct knowledge and capacity that it enjoys in its own states. Its embassy is thinly
staffed and narrowly focused; its more numerous intelligence operatives are spendthrift and ineffective;130
its pool of independent expertise on Nepal, in acade-
mia or elsewhere, is dismally shallow. Despite myriad
cross-border connections and cultural overlaps, New
Delhi fails to benefit from its access to information.
reportedly described the crisis over the COAS as a "natural"
outcome ofthe Congress's "opportunistic" alliance with left
parties: "The Congress-led government has outsourced the
problems of Nepal to the Left parties and told them to handle it. The mishandling of Nepal led to the capture of power
by Maoists". C. Jaishankar, "Advani sees mishandling of
foreign policy", The Hindu, 8 May 2009.
129Both independent analysts and retired officials complain
that the Indian government's strategic shift in 2005 was neither well explained in public nor well implemented through
the usual diplomatic means. Crisis Group interviews, New
Delhi, June 2009.
130 As former foreign minister Natwar Singh belatedly recognised: "Our concerned agencies ... were hopelessly wrong
about the rise of the Maoists. They were even more off the
mark about the outcome of the elections which gave Maoists a spectacular victory". K. Natwar Singh, "Neighbourhood in turmoil", Indian Express, 5 May 2009.
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Page 23
The discussion has spread beyond the mandarins' confines in South Block, which houses the foreign and
defence ministries, as well as the prime minister's office. Some commentators have lined up on the government's side to stress that concerns at Maoist intent and
possible ramifications for India to justify New Delhi's
recent steps. "India has high stakes in [Nepal's] peace
and should engage in deft diplomacy to save it", offered
one editorial. "During Maoist institution-wrecking, as
they signed the peace and friendship agreement with
China, India preferred to remain in the sidelines. It
must now talk to all actors, and forthrightly".131 But
other independent analysts suggest the problem has
not been a shortage of talk or action but a lack of consideration of ends and means.132 Prominent newspapers, such as The Hindu and The Hindustan Times, attacked the short-sightedness of undermining civilian
control of Nepal's military in favour of teaching the
Maoists a lesson for their supposed misbehaviour. Several commentators with knowledge of Nepal argued
that India had betrayed its own interests. In the words
of one:
What is shocking is that the Kathmandu cocktail
circuit and desperate powerseekers managed so easily to hijack India's policy towards Nepal by talking of coups, countercoups and a civil war. What
will be the consequences of this? First, India will
become unpopular once again in Nepal. This may
not be reflected in street agitations but sympathy
will grow for a prime minister who preferred to
quit rather than be dictated by the Indian ambassador who behaves in a vice-regal fashion. This is the
stuff of potent nationalism.: 33
Indian and Nepali interests are not irreconcilable. Indeed, they do - as diplomats always insist - largely
overlap. But the only viable plan for pursuing them is
to return to the logic ofthe twelve-point agreement. It
has not worked out quite as planned but the underlying calculation was solid: that peace, stability and
bringing the Maoists into open, competitive politics
would serve Indian interests as well as reflecting the
wishes of Nepal's people. India's loss of faith in this
plan is based on an unduly negative take.
Political ownership and parliamentary scrutiny in New
Delhi would help. For the region's proudest democracy, the paucity of serious parliamentary debate on
Nepal is shameful. Off-the-record seminars and mandarins' confabulations are a poor substitute for ministerial accountability. Given the critical importance of
Nepal to India, a point no Delhi diplomat ever leaves
unstressed, there has been precious little parliamentary
discussion of whether policies serve their purpose.134
The rhetoric of a nationally owned process would also
be worth translating into reality. It is true that Nepali
politicians feed the Indian appetite for intervention by
constantly crawling to New Delhi. Yet in recent years
India has reacted to developments as much as shaping
them. Accepting Nepal's sovereignty would help India
react more calmly and constructively when events take
an unexpected turn - as they have before, and will again.
The mutual mistrust and antagonism that has developed between India and the UCPN(M) is helpful to
neither side. lust as New Delhi fears Maoist intent,
UCPN(M) leaders harbour suspicions over India's outlook. Both perspectives rest on too much truth for
comfort. Nepal's Maoists know they have to cope with
Indian concerns if they are to return to government
and achieve real change but they have been slow to
adapt in practice. Most Indian policymakers know the
UCPN(M) is here to stay but still wish it away. In the
meantime Nepal policy risks being overshadowed by
India's own burgeoning Maoist movement. The original idea that success in Nepal would set a useful domestic precedent has not outlived its utility, even ifthe
situations are not directly comparable.
Ultimately, India faces a simple choice. It can push
for a democratic neighbour in which the Maoists will
likely remain a leading political force. Or it can see a
militarised Nepal, in which an emboldened NA tempts
Maoist extremists to return to violence. For now, its
policies are inviting the latter scenario. But it is not
too late to revert to working towards the former. And
India could even try to practice what it preaches to
others on non-intervention. It might discover that Nepali
"Post Prachanda", editorial, Indian Express, 5 May 2009.
132 Frustration at the ill-planned diplomatic manoeuvres is
common across the board - from opposition politicians and
activists to those who have long advised the Congress-led
government on Nepal policy. Crisis Group interviews, New
Delhi, June 2009.
133 Bharat Bhushan, "India blunders in Nepal again", Mail
Today, 6 May 2009.
134Neither India's lower nor upper house (Lok Sabha and
Rajya Sabha) has seen substantive debate on policy towards
Nepal since before the 2005 twelve-point agreement. Parliamentary discussion and formal questions to ministers have
tended to focus more on questions of water resources,
flooding, trade and perennial concerns about Pakistani intelligence agents' infiltration across the open border. All debate
transcripts and parliamentary questions are archived at
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politicians are indeed capable of working out their
own solutions if freed from constant interference.
A. New Regime, Old Problems
The fall of the Maoist-led government was widely
welcomed but the wave of enthusiasm for its replacement, an unwieldy coalition of 22 disparate parties, dissipated rapidly. It took Prime Minister Madhav Kumar
Nepal weeks even to negotiate the entry of major
partners into his cabinet. Smaller allies have yet to join
and some are already showing signs of restiveness.
The 9 luly presentation ofthe government's policy
and programs prompted dissent from within the UML
itself as well as from the NC.135 Eight parties nominally part of the coalition registered amendment motions.136 The new government lacks the will and capacity to achieve anything significant, especially on the
peace process. Even many of its constituents appear
well aware of this, as do most of those who had initially hailed it as a saviour.137
The new government started out - ironically if not surprisingly - by flouting the very constitutional demand
for consensus that the Maoists had been accused of
breaching. Not only did it apparently fail to consult
the UCPN(M) on major policies, it also managed to
take some innovative decisions before the cabinet had
even been formed.138 Coalition partners, especially the
The policy and programs were published in full in the
state and other media. See "Nepal sarkarko arthik varsha
2066/67 ko niti tatha karyakram", Gorkhapatra, 10 July 2009.
136Those filing amendments were: Tilak Bahadur Thapa
Magar, CPN (ML); Chandra Bahadur Gurung, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal); Jaya Prakash Gupta, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Upendra Yadav); Sarita Giri, Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi); Bishwendra Paswan, Dalit Janajati
Party; Rukmini Chaudhary, Samyukta Loktantrik Rastriya
Manch; Lila Nyaichyai, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party;
Santa Bahadur Nepali, Rastriya Janamorcha. "Parties against
govt's policy", The Himalayan Times, online edition, 10
July 2009.
137 See, for example, Kamal Dev Bhattarai, "Month-old UML-
led government fails to inspire confidence", The Himalayan
Times, 22 June 2009. Commentary from one repentant former supporter and dedicated anti-Maoist, calling for Madhav
Nepal's resignation, was particularly incisive: Manuj Chaudhari, "Upay: pradhanmantriko rajinama", Nepal, 5 July 2009.
138 The new government's eye-catching initial decisions - including the inauguration of a new republic monument which
appeared to replace that already planned for the former
royal palace, although officials explained that no budget or
design had yet been agreed - were taken when only three
ministers had been sworn in and the coalition cabinet had
yet to sit.
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smaller parties, complain of being sidelined. Impressive
as a 22-party grouping may sound, the government's
majority in the CA is neither wide nor secure: in the
only test so far, its policy and programs were backed
by 305 members -just four over the 301 needed for a
simple majority.
The fact that many ministers were defeated in the CA
elections has further tarnished the government's democratic credentials. Madhav Nepal is an able bridge
builder and a conscientious balancer of factions. But
he lost from two constituencies in April 2008 and has
yet to emerge from the shadow of his past eagerness
to secure the prime ministership. Only twelve of 32
ministers were elected directly, through first-past-the-
post contests. Eight lost, eight were appointed through
proportional representation and three did not contest
the polls at all. Several prominent office holders lost
their seats, for example Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala,
Defence Minister Vidya Bhandari and Peace and
Reconstruction Minister Rakam Chemjong. This has
caused dissatisfaction within the UML, which has been
most egregious in appointing losers.139
Sniping from other parties in the government has continued. Many NC leaders criticised the government's
policy and programs, despite the fact that they had
heavyweight representatives, such as Ram Sharan Mahat, on the drafting committee.140 While disgruntled
leaders called on their party to register their dissent
formally, Mahat himself awarded the government's
program only half marks in a newspaper survey of reactions.141 Similar complaints also came from senior
figures within the UML.142
The budget appears sensible and politically astute on
paper. It maintains popular Maoist initiatives, despite
dismissing the cancellation of farmers' small loans as
"If this was what we wanted to do ultimately, then why
stage the drama of elections?" one UML lawmaker was
quoted as having asked Madhav Nepal following the appointment of so many losing candidates as ministers. Mohammad Rijwan, a junior home affairs minister, is the only directly elected UML appointee, from Sarlahi-2 constituency.
"PM under fire in UML", Republica, 18 June 2009.
140 See, for example, "Kangres asantushta", Naya Patrika,
10 July 2009; "Dissatisfaction within NC over govt policy
programmes", The Kathmandu Post, 10 July 2009.
141"Niti tatha karyakram: sarkarlai 44 nambar", Naya Patrika, 10 July 2009.
142 At their 10 July parliamentary party meeting, UML CA
members complained that the agenda was stale. "Govt policy programmes lack new idea: UML lawmakers", ekanti-, 10 July 2009.
a "Maoist pet program".143 It also revives some ofthe
UML's well-regarded programs from their 1994-1995
administration, while offering projects designed to
please Kathmandu residents alongside heavy investment in roads and basic infrastructure. But most commentators are dubious when it comes to the critical
question: can it be implemented?144
After some stalling, the Maoists did allow the presentation ofthe program and, later, the budget to go ahead.
However, other parties have set a poor precedent on
such issues. The NC's hindering ofthe post-CA government formation and budget was egregious but disrupting CA proceedings has become a standard tool
for opposition. The CA's functioning as legislature
has been severely disturbed, with little business transacted in its sittings. The Maoists seem likely to cooperate on purely peace process-related issues but will not
offer the new regime any easy victories. A proposed
high-level political coordination committee could at
least coordinate efforts on this front. Long talked of, it
is now championed by G.P. Koirala, who would like
to head it - or at least be recognised as the "guardian"
ofthe process. As long as such a mechanism does not
meddle in day-to-day governance and sticks to a clear
mandate it would make good sense.
In the background, progress on constitution-writing has
been patchy at best.145 CA members did canvas public
opinion, albeit through lengthy and complex questionnaires that did not facilitate a wide response. But the
drafting schedules have slipped again, forcing a further
revision of interim deadlines.146 Only a handful ofthe
Mukul Humagain, "Maoist pet programmes to be scrapped",
The Kathmandu Post, 7 July 2009. In contrast to the dominant private-sector orthodoxy to which most coalition partners subscribe, it even promises to go ahead with the revival
of two state-owned industries. (These include the Hetauda
Textile Mills, a step that might gratify the Maoist trade unionists who occupied the site to protect its equipment and
push for its revival - or annoy them at the UML trying to
take credit. Crisis Group interviews, Maoist party and trade
union activists, Hetauda industrial area, April 2009.
144 Even supporters of the government are very doubtful about
the prospects for implementation. Prominent former finance
ministers and economics specialists Ram Sharan Mahat and
Prakash Chandra Lohani are among the well-informed sceptics. They and other non-UML politicians have complained
that the budget does not represent the coalition's smaller
parties. "Lawmakers see challenge in implementation of
budget",, 14 July 2009.
145 See Martin Chautari Policy Brief "The Constituent
Assembly Process", Kathmandu, May 2009, at www.
146Despite the ever tighter schedule, the CA adjourned indefinitely on 21 July 2009 while waiting for further input
from thematic committees.
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thematic committees submitted their draft proposals
and those that did were often quirky and not supported
unanimously.147 The important position of constitutional
committee chair has remained vacant since Madhav
Nepal quit it on assuming office as prime minister.
The usually unflappable CA chair, Subash Nemwang,
has finally altered his public line to admit that there have
been problems, the process is behind schedule and lack
of consensus threatens the completion ofthe exercise.
There has been little joined up thinking and few parties
have communicated a vision for the new constitution.
Of course, this would be easier if such visions existed.
But the major parties remain undecided on key topics.
The NC, for example, took until luly 2009 to produce
its first internal document on possible federal structures
- that too only a starting point for discussion rather
than an agreed policy paper. On this most central and
contentious area, few parties have taken a coherent public position. As a detailed assessment observes, "the
CPN (Maoist) is the only [political party] that has presented a comprehensive geographic model for a federal republic of Nepal".148 For most others, the main
incentive is a negative one: to guard against the presumed dangers of disintegration and ethnic strife.149
The state of the other parties has shaped recent events
and affects Maoist calculations. The UCPN(M) may have
the most serious policy discussion to resolve but parties facing less existential wrangles are in even more
of a mess. Almost all are faction-ridden, rudderless and
short on fresh ideas and leadership. This even applies
to the UML, whose February 2009 national convention
had held out a promising example of serious policy
debates and full internal elections. The parties have
been their own worst enemies, achieving only a tragic
repetition of past mistakes.
Most parties' local networks are weak and have yet to
be revived. They have lost touch with both core supporters and the population at large. Instead of rectifying this, they rely on looking upwards: often accurately, they see power as being delivered from above
rather from a mass base. While the palace used to be
the chief arbiter, higher forces such as the NA and
New Delhi remain. With the exception of Madhesi parties' strident line on regional autonomy, there remain
few saleable policy alternatives to Maoist proposals.
(Many governing party members have themselves complained that the new administration's policy and programs are stale.) The NC still stands out for its lack of
thinking on policy issues: it made no detailed analysis
of its election defeat and has only belatedly started
discussing major constitutional questions. But its rivals
are not as far ahead as they should be.
The continued weakness of democratic opposition only
encourages the army to usurp the role that should be
played by political parties. This dangerous trend has
gathered pace as the major parties cede responsibility.
It is particularly surprising that NC leaders should be
comfortable with the army producing far more serious
constitutional suggestions than they themselves have.
All four NC prime ministers have fallen victim to previous military interventions. Two were imprisoned following palace-ordered and army-executed coups: B.P.
Koirala in 1960 and Sher Bahadur Deuba in 2005.
Two more, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and G.P. Koirala,
suffered heavy-handed efforts to intimidate them in
transitional periods.150 Former Prime Minister G.P. Koirala and Home Minister Govinda Raj loshi, a party
strongman, were pushed into resignation by army non-
cooperation.151 Prime Minister Nepal did not have to
wait long for his first taste of this bullying, when a
cohort of NA top brass descended to reprove him for
his reported comments on PLA integration.152
For example, proposed language in draft sections on topics such as compulsory military service, the definition of
sovereignty, the protection and regulation of borders and
language policy often prompted dissent from within the committees themselves but was inserted by chairpersons or a
majority of members in line with their own parties' policies
but without building consensus.
148Pitamber Sharma and Narendra Khanal, Towards a Federal Nepal: An assessment of proposed models (Kathmandu,
149 The rallying against the spectre of "ethnic federalism" has
intensified. One NC-leaning weekly even argued that the
Maoists were using the cover of "civilian supremacy and
nationalism" precisely in order to foment ethnic war. "Nagarik sarvocchata ra rashtriyatako namma jatiya yuddha bhad-
karrne maovadiko yojana", Ghatana ra Bichar, 3 June 2009.
Interim Prime Minister K.P. Bhattarai described the generals' arm-twisting in Martin Hoftun, William Raeper and
John Whelpton, People, Politics & Ideology (Kathmandu,
1999), p. 301; Koirala had a similar experience in the immediate aftermath of the April 2006 people's movement
when then COAS Pyar Jung Thapa, accompanied by senior
officers including then Lt.-Gen. Katawal, turned up at his
office to warn him against punishing them for their role
supporting the royal government.
151 Koirala's resignation as prime minister was prompted by
the army's refusal to help rescue dozens of police hostages
from Holleri, Rolpa district, in 2001; Joshi resigned when
the army sat tight in its barracks as police were massacred
in the Maoists' first major attack on a district headquarters,
in Dunai, Dolpa district, 2000.
152 See section VII.D below on the row over the prime minister's reported, but retracted, words.
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The main non-Maoist parties have a strong incentive
to delay the constitution-writing process. As long as
they remain weak, they will not push it forward assiduously because its completion will bring fresh elections. The evidence to date, reinforced by the April
2009 by-elections, is that the older parties will struggle to challenge Maoist dominance or to outflank new
parties in the Madhes and elsewhere.153 The Maoists
might not repeat their April 2008 performance but
confident talk oftheir collapsing popularity is well off
the mark. As long as their challengers show no signs
of revival their electoral strength should not be underestimated.
The main parties:
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-
Leninist), UML: Its surfeit of bright and able leaders
have devoted much time and effort to political analysis. However, it has never been able to make the most
of its position in between the Maoists and the NC.
Instead of building on the centre ground and being an
essential bridge between left and right it has slipped
close to irrelevance. It played little role in the 2005
negotiations that framed the peace deal. As leader of
the new government, it risks carrying the can for an
administration over which it will exercise only nominal control. UML leaders are well aware of the dangers of such an arrangement. Their detailed lanuary
2009 political report pointed out the error of joining
the 2004-2005 coalition government and the mistake
of allowing desire for office to cloud their judgment
in imagining Gyanendra's "regression" was "half corrected".154 Further in the past, but still fresh in the
memory, is the experience oftheir short-lived 1994-
1995 minority government.
The six by-elections included a surprisingly balanced range
of constituencies, both geographically and politically. However, they are far from nationally representative. Nevertheless, the Maoists' retention of two seats and victory in one
more suggests the CA election result was not a one-off. A
far stronger UML and NC performance in subsequent student elections is not much comfort: the student population
is tiny and extremely unrepresentative of the population as
a whole in class, caste, ethnic, gender and other aspects.
154 The report contends that the UML allowed its opposition, G.P. Koirala's NC, to cloud its judgment; it supported
Deuba "without making an analysis ofthe overall situation".
CPN(UML) Central Committee, "Rajnitik prativedan", January 2009, p. 91. The report accepts that this step only encouraged Gyanendra's autocratic steps, split the democratic
opposition and made it all the more difficult to achieve any
ofthe UML's stated aims - while prompting dissatisfaction
and opposition within the party. Ibid, p. 92.
The Maoist administration is Nepal's second communist government to fall after only nine months in office, the first being the UML's own minority administration in 1994-1995. This irony is not lost on UML
leaders, nor is the fear that the new arrangement could
break this record for brevity. Misgivings within the
party have been barely concealed. Party president Ihalanath Khanal, for now outmanoeuvred by his rivals,
has voiced concerns. Former Home Minister Bam Dev
Gautam has been more vocal in ruing the UML's withdrawal of support to the Maoist-led government to
align with the NC and more right-wing parties. Many
senior party members fear they will be used by both the
NC and the army. If so, they would further erode their
popular credibility while making no gains beyond a
few months occupying ministerial positions.
Nepali Congress (NC): Nepal's oldest party took a
great step forward by finally holding a long overdue
election for the leadership of its parliamentary party.
The result was an unexpectedly convincing victory for
Ram Chandra Poudel. This upset widespread expectations that G.P. Koirala would engineer a win for his
longstanding rival Sher Bahadur Deuba - in return for
the latter's docile acquiescence in Sujata Koirala's
appointment as foreign minister and leader of the NC
team in government. This exercise in internal democracy may establish a useful precedent for a party that
is widely - and correctly - seen as one of the most
autocratically and opaquely managed.
With the party presidency soon to be contested, and a
general convention in the offing, there may be further
realignments within the party. Deuba will seek to compensate for his setback, while other contenders may
feel emboldened now that some of Deuba's formerly
solid supporters have deserted him, suggesting that the
faultline ofthe 2002 split has been redrawn.155 More
internal democracy could reinvigorate the party but it
could also destabilise its delicate balance of rival factions. None of Koirala's possible successors is a strong
leader, none has anywhere near his grip on the party
and none has his ability to make bold deals with the
Maoists or to face down the army or India. For all his
weaknesses, the party and the country still need Koirala in control. Beyond questions of leadership, the
NC will only rebuild credibility as the prime promoter
When the party split in 2002, Koirala and Deuba were
the only individuals commanding substantial support in the
ranks. The picture is now less clear-cut: Koirala's dominance continues but he has more contenders, who are competing for influence. For a good analysis of this more complex landscape, see Haribahadur Thapa and Kulchandra
Nyaupane, "Kangresbhitra pherieko dhruvikaran", Kantipur, 23 June 2009.
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of democracy if it forges a serious policy platform to
translate its rhetoric of liberal pluralism into practice.
Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF): The MIF has
split, with the Gachchhadar-led faction opposing party
president Upendra Yadav's leadership and having its
parliamentarians support the new government. The battle
for legal control ofthe party is partially resolved (the
election commission has recognised Yadav's faction)
but the party's original central committee remains
divided and there is little prospect of reunion. Yadav
is probably in the better position to profit from this
situation, despite his short-term loss of dominance.
With his party shedding opportunistic senior leaders
he may manage to revive his grassroots by continuing
to distance himself from New Delhi and breathing life
into a Madhesi campaign. The likelihood of a new
political movement during the constitution-writing
period remains high. But, as MIF and other Madhesi
party leaders privately admit, the "one Madhes, one
province" goal is unattainable. The crunch will come
when the constitutional process nears the decision point
on federalism and parties have to temper their populism with pragmatism. That is still some way off. The
more immediate challenge will stem from demands
for better representation of Tharus, Dalits, Muslims
and other groups not well served by the Madhesi parties in their first incarnation.
The UN mission's mandate has been extended by a
further six months until 22 lanuary 2010 - the fourth
such term extension. Once again, the government's
request described the consistent progress ofthe peace
process and, without offering a specific promise, reassured the UN Secretary-General that it is heading towards its "logical conclusion" and that the CA is "duly
working to write a new democratic constitution of
Nepal within the stipulated time frame".156 The mission
"I have the honour to request for an extension of the duration of the current mandate and the continuation of the
related works of the United Nations Mission in Nepal
(UNMIN) by another six months beginning 23 July 2009.
... I have further honour to inform you that the peace process ... has consistently been making progress. The Government and the major political parties of Nepal remain fully
committed to take the peace process to its logical conclusion and they have been keenly engaged in that direction.
The elected Constituent Assembly is duly working to write
a new democratic constitution of Nepal within the stipulated
time frame". Letter to UNSG from Ambassador Madhu Raman Acharya, 7 July 2009.
has a limited mandate and its primary responsibility is
to monitor the management of arms and armies.157
Under fire: UNMIN has been a convenient lightning
rod for resentment at "outside interference" - ironically, given that it has no will or capacity to engage in
any of the skulduggery that India does so brazenly.
"Like elsewhere in the world, the UN peace keeping
effort in Nepal too has failed summarily not because
of the host country but by the erratic habits and immoral conducts exhibited by the men engaged in the
said UN team", railed one hostile editorial in a conservative weekly. "Ian Martin, the former UNMIN chief,
clearly sided with the Maoists .... It is time that the
Nepal leadership formally says good bye to the UNMIN from Nepal. The longer this UN body stays in
Nepal, the more trouble we will have to endure".158
Attacks have also come from political parties: in particular the NC, but also - despite UNMIN's supposed
partiality towards them - the Maoists.159 India has not
only sniped from the sidelines but has sometimes
stirred up public controversy.160
157 UNMIN was established on 23 January 2007 with a one-
year mandate, which has subsequently been renewed four
times. It was deployed to support the CPA by: monitoring
the management of arms and armies, assisting in the monitoring of ceasefire arrangements (with human rights aspects
to be monitored by OHCHR) and supporting the CA elections. UNMIN had planned to recruit 1,073 staff for the
original twelve months, of which 968 were actually hired
by April 2008. After the CA elections, its capacity was progressively scaled down. The Electoral Assistance Office was
closed in May 2008 and all other units were reduced. By
December 2008 it had 355 staff; this had gone down to 255
as of July 2009. UN Secretary-General, Reports to Security
Council, January 2007 to July 2009, available at www. For the original mandate see Crisis Group Asia
Report N°128, Nepal's Constitutional Process, 26 February
2007, p. 34.
158 "Nepal: Say Good bye to UNMIN", editorial, Telegraph
Weekly, 17 June 2009.
159 The NC, in particular, seized on the Shaktikhor video to
castigate UNMIN and demand a full reverification of Maoist
combatants. See, for example, Umakant Chaudhari, "Maovadi rananiti ra anminko bhumika", Naya Patrika, 19 May
2009. During the verification procedure itself, the Maoists
had been the most vocal critics, insisting - in particular following the first phase of the exercise in the PLA's first division cantonment - that the UN had unfairly disqualified
eligible combatants. Although some cases were reconsidered, only a small number passed a second test.
160It enjoyed and apparently stoked, for example, the controversy over alleged UNMIN contacts with Madhesi armed
groups. (There had indeed been one ill-advised and ill-
concealed meeting in Bihar conducted by the UN's Office
for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs on the thin
excuse of securing cooperation in essential aid efforts.) It is
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Weaknesses: UNMIN's mandate was prepared within
unavoidable, but unhelpful, constraints. It was given limited but critical tasks; at the same time it was always
at risk of becoming stuck ifthe peace process did not
conclude as planned. It cannot safely be withdrawn as
long as the Maoist army remains in cantonments but it
has no leverage to push for progress towards integration and rehabilitation. The inconsistency in the mandate is the responsibility of the Nepali parties - and,
even more so, of the Indian government, which wrote
and continues to police the red lines. The UN itself
took the difficult decision to accept a less than ideal
mandate rather than risk stalling the rapid progress of
the peace deal by holding out for unattainable perfection. UNMIN's own public relations effort in Nepal
did not effectively address criticisms of substance or
working methods. It could have done more to leverage
the public support of Kathmandu-based diplomats and
donors, many of whom initially found their UNMIN
counterparts uncommunicative - not to mention upsetting some development officials by making the pretence of business as usual even less sustainable.
Hostile environment: Initially welcomed, UNMIN
has latterly received precious little support from influential Nepali opinion-formers. Few have taken an honest, clear stance on UNMIN's role and potential utility
to Nepal. Some are sceptical on principle; most have
been content to join a fashionable chorus of mudsling-
ing, which alienates no domestic players but tends to
lack depth. Fringe outlets have been more outspoken,
although mainstream publications have occasionally
rivalled them for hyperbole.161 Political parties often
play to the gallery to win public credibility or look tough
to their own ranks despite privately appreciating the
UN role and calling for more assistance. The NA high
command made constant efforts to undermine UNMIN
even as it professed its commitment to cooperation
and participated formally in its tasks.
Indian concerns: India knew it needed the UN but
was worried by its presence from the outset. It has never
coped well with these dual compulsions. It rushed to
help UNMIN get set up, with a genuine effort and
major contribution on practicalities such as providing
vehicles and containers for arms which would have
ironic that the government of India had itself been directly
supporting the same armed insurgents that it complained of
the UN engaging with on humanitarian issues. Crisis Group
interviews, officials and analysts, New Delhi, September 2008.
161 See, for example, the call of one mainstream daily for
the UNMIN chief to be sacked over the phrasing of one
(not inaccurate) sentence in the May 2009 UN Secretary-
General's report. "Recall Landgren", editorial, Republica,
27 May 2009.
taken months to arrive via other routes. But almost at the
same time it started the off-the-record sniping, much
of it at the pettiest level.162 The approach was predicated on the confident calculation that a few weeks
after the CA elections the new, "legitimate" government would thank UNMIN for its troubles and order it
to pack its bags. It also reflected a genuine fear that a
serious international presence, even with a limited
mandate, might reduce India's almost unfettered influence on Nepal and dilute its exclusive role in the
peace process. This could be a blow notjust to India's
dignity but also to its scope for intervention.
Resentment at new approaches: UNMIN upset different layers of the establishment by taking marginalised communities seriously. It risked alienating the
traditional UN employee class - a well-entrenched network - by making a real effort towards inclusive employment practices. In doing so, it built probably the
most diverse workforce of any comparable international
or national agency, putting donors and Nepal's government to shame. The contrast with the high-caste male
cliques dominating the parties and the media was even
more stark. It is little wonder UNMIN earned minimal
public credit for this, or even interest. UNMIN was by
its nature closely in contact with the Maoists, particularly the PLA, through arms monitoring and the loint
Monitoring Coordination Committee (IMCC). It naturally developed a different perspective on them, one
based on far more in-depth, face-to-face relations than
most outsiders. It was a small step to translate this into
accusations of bias.
In sum, UNMIN perhaps started out with a flawed mandate. But that was hard to avoid and the decision to
accept it is, even with the benefit of hindsight, justifiable. It is hard to imagine what readily better options
existed or could have been engineered. Its poor public
relations were exacerbated by half-hearted diplomatic
and political support. A natural scapegoat, it should
have developed better strategies to deal with public
criticism. But it has played an essential role, many aspects of which have been unsung and underappreciated.163 Without it, the peace process could well have
"They realise Nepal's a cushy spot and just want to extend their stay indefinitely to enjoy themselves and keep
their cars and salaries" was a repeated refrain, even from
the most dedicated and committed of diplomats. Crisis Group
interviews, various Indian officials, Kathmandu and New
Delhi, 2007-2008. (Of course, the cars and salaries were
indeed embarrassingly luxurious, although this is a trend that
Kathmandu's omnipresent aid experts, and Indian ambassadors, have done little to buck.)
163 For a relatively uncontroversial example, there were the
district election advisers who boosted many election commission officers' morale and capacity in districts nationwide in
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collapsed and Nepal's politicians - of all stripes - tional players back onto the same page for the region's
would have had even less of a shield against deter- long-term good,
mined but miscalculated bilateral meddling
A UN role in Nepal is here to stay - and certainly beyond lanuary 2010. UNMIN has not been used as well
as it could, either for technical input or for political
backing for the peace process. An expanded mandate
is unlikely and unnecessary: some technical assistance
is happening under the current set-up and the offer of
the Secretary-General's good offices does not depend
on a formal sanction. India does not want extended
Security Council (SC) attention on its backyard; China
does not feel much differently. But as long as UNMIN
is there, SC oversight is inevitable, as are the growing
concerns of member states at slow progress and the
multiple missed deadlines. Their engagement can be
useful, and Russia's longstanding proposal of an SC
visit to Nepal merits serious consideration.165
Repeated extensions to UNMIN's mandate are not disastrous in themselves, even if they are slightly embarrassing. The bigger question is how to make the most
of international moral and practical support while being honest about the challenges. Such honesty would
help in planning better to address difficulties in a long-
term fashion, notjust with the six-month pretence that
comes round each lanuary and luly. It should also
embrace a realistic understanding of Indian and Chinese concerns - not to mention the genuine desire of
most Nepalis not to become dependent on white cars
or blue helmets. But even once UNMIN has gone,
Nepal's transition to full stability will be a lengthy,
delicate process requiring international understanding
beyond the standard development engagement. It is
already time to be thinking about the transition to coordinated support for that next stage, whether through
a strengthened UN country team, better international coordination mechanisms or any other means. Ideally,
Nepal itself should guide such steps and its powerful
neighbours should take the lead in bringing interna-
the run-up to the CA election. See Crisis Group Report, A
Peaceful Revolution?, op. cit, p. 9. It is important to note
that India supported such efforts wholeheartedly: its criticism of the UN role was not unfocused.
164 Some serious analysts who would prefer not to say so in
print are convinced that UNMIN's presence has been a
critical bar against resumed conflict. One senior newspaper
editor, for example, says: "If it weren't for UNMIN we'd
have been back at war long ago; there's no way the peace
process would not have collapsed". Crisis Group interview,
Kathmandu, July 2009.
165 The Security Council has undertaken a number of visits
to countries in which it has mandated missions. Reports of
missions are at
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The risks to the peace process posed by polarisation
and the individual actors' mala fide intentions are clear.
But Nepal's transition is conditioned just as much, if
not more, by deeper and broader social, economic and
cultural change. Great as the influence of top party
leaders can be, the country's transformation is not solely
in their hands. A young and growing population is
caught between aspiration and frustration; marginalised groups continue to agitate for greater representation;
faith in the state and political processes has not evaporated but is conditional. With so much contestation and
conflict, the structural challenges involved in achieving
a lasting resolution should not be underestimated. Coupled with this is the need to reimagine the bases of national identity. Nepal is not the Balkans: the assertion
of ethnic and regional identity does not necessarily
mean secessionism and communalism. But forging a
revised national self-image only adds to the tasks the
political process has to channel constructively. Muddling through - the traditional fallback approach - has
staved off catastrophe in the past but is a less than inspiring strategy which is already offering diminishing
A. Cope with Change on All Fronts
Nepal is a large country, and a changing one. The peace
process had its roots in a comparatively straightforward
triangular conflict. The main parties, readily identifiable, were structured and fairly predictable in their behaviour. They were able to fight and to talk; when they
chose, they had it in their hands to create chaos or stability. Things are not so simple now. Short-term closed-
door fixes still work, but their efficacy is ever less durable and they have made politics more dysfunctional
overall. Games of musical chairs in Kathmandu are not
going to solve Nepal's multiple, pressing problems.
Parties need to get a grip and put their own disputes
into perspective. If not, they will be standing on the
sidelines as wider forces reshape the country in ways
beyond their control.
The concepts of fragile, failing or failed states are not
necessarily helpful or applicable. But Nepal's slide down
the rankings ofthe respected Fragile States Index should
prompt concern.166 Coupled with weak public security
Nepal ranked 25th in the Fund for Peace/Foreign Policy
Failed States Index, placing it in the highest risk category
(discussed below), the country's fragility adds to the difficulties of finding peace solutions and putting them
into practice. State institutions are, in general, ineffective in their functioning and command little public
trust. Perceptions of corruption and politicisation ofthe
police and judiciary are particularly damaging to confidence and public security.
Inequality and conflict: Nepal is a deeply unequal
country. It has the greatest levels of inequality in South
Asia - and the gaps are growing wider.167 Such differentials tend to hinder smooth democratisation and increase the risks of totalitarianism. The peace process
was predicated on a cross-class consensus for democratic structures. Yet the institutionalisation of democracy is conditioned by the evolving struggle between
groups that hold power and those that are excluded
from it. Great inequality increases the incentives for
the powerless to fight for a share of the pie but it also
raises the stakes for existing elites: the more they
stand to lose, the harder they will resist change.168 The
definition of Nepal's "elites" is not straightforward
but a struggle for control of state institutions, which
involves forms of class conflict, is undeniably taking
place. If power is redistributed there will be losers, at
least in the short term. The interests of different classes,
castes and other communities will inevitably clash.
Without agreement on how to negotiate such conflicts,
this is a recipe for turbulence and violence.
Land reform: Land disputes are a running sore. Lawlessness is a particularly acute example of inequality
and unsustainable social divisions. Yet progress on land
reform has been stalled, despite many cross-party commitments. The new government has promised that "all
legitimate demands put forward by ... the landless ...
will be gradually fulfilled through mutual dialogue".169
and marking a deterioration in both its relative position and
individual indicators since 2008. See
167 One Nepali academic recently pointed out that the Gini
measure of economic inequality increased from 0.305 in the
1980s to 0.472 in 2000-03: "in a South Asian context, inequality in Nepal was less than India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka
in the 1980s while it became the highest among the above
three countries and Bangladesh in the 1990s and the early
twenty-first century. ... Gini index never crossed 0.4 in the
four countries". Mahendra Lawoti, "Democratic corporatism", The Kathmandu Post, 5 February 2009.
168Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Cambridge, 2005).
169The full list reads: "All legitimate demands put forward
by the workers, peasants, women, youths, students, teachers,
professors, intellectuals, doctors, engineers, lawyers, civil servants, journalists, entrepreneurs, cultural artists, the landless, the squatters, the conflict-affected, the displaced, freed
bonded labourers (Kamaiyas), the Haliyas, Badis, and the
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Landless people, however, are only one of 23 categories of people whose demands will be addressed; prompt
steps are unlikely. The government has also promised
that a scientific land reforms program will be implemented and that "special attention will be paid to the
socio-economic uplifting of the agriculture labour,
freed bonded labour, landless and squatters".170 It has
further vowed to reclaim land as part of two major
irrigation river diversion projects.171 Land reform has
long been one ofthe Maoists' central goals and a significant mobilising agenda. The fact that they made
almost no progress in this area while in government,
despite establishing a commission, suggests it will be
hard to address.
Education, employment and economic growth: The
2009 school leaving certificate results brought good
news for many students: the two-thirds pass rate was a
significant increase on previous years. However, the
higher education system cannot absorb all those wanting to pursue further studies while the job market has
extremely limited openings for those with better qualifications. Industrial production has dropped and economic growth is likely to fall by more than two percentage points.172 At the same time, inflation has been
in double digits for several months. Although the global
economic slowdown has not yet affected remittances
as badly as many predicted, prospects for economic
growth and employment are grim.173 Agriculture, which
remains the backbone of the economy, can offer only
marginal increases in efficiency and productivity - and
that too only with improved credit and investment, not
to mention favourable weather. Industry, troubled by
lack of diversification and poor labour relations, is not
likely to deliver much in the way of jobs or profits.
The already large numbers of unemployed and disaffected young people look set to grow. And in the short
term, Nepal's chronic food deficit has become an acute
disabled will be gradually fulfilled through mutual dialogue".
Policies and Programmes of the Government of Nepal for
the Fiscal Year 2066/067, para. 18.
170 Ibid, para. 31.
171 Ibid, para. 34.
172"Quarterly economic update Nepal", Asian Development
Bank (ADB), June 2009. The ADB does forecast a marginal
improvement in growth in 2010, but only to a meagre 3.5
per cent. "Asian Development Outlook Nepal", ADB, 2009.
Still, these figures are not necessarily disastrous. During the
decade of insurgency, Nepal managed modest but sustained
growth and significant poverty reduction. "Nepal: resilience
amidst conflict", World Bank, June 2006. A major factor
behind this development was remittances, but rising incomes from agricultural activities and industrial employment also played important roles.
173 "Interim Strategy Note for Nepal for the period FY
2010-2011", World Bank, May 2009.
crisis, with food shortages threatening dozens of districts and adding to the stresses on under-resourced
New armed actors: The complexity of the political
landscape, and profusion of small disruptive outfits,
has continued to increase. One report listed twelve
active armed groups in the Tarai, of whom five have
entered preliminary talks with the government; it also
names six armed groups mobilised in the eastern hills,
of which only one is in negotiations.174 Government
strategy towards such groups remains unclear. The
Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction (MoPR) has
reportedly initiated contacts by telephone with the
promise of substantive dialogue with the peace minister.175 But the terms for talks, and their goals, have been
neither clearly defined nor seriously pursued. With a
limping constitutional process, divided political scene
and incompetent law and order enforcement, the incentives for new groups to emerge and stake a claim
to attention and rewards is undiminished.176
The state has not failed. However, it lacks capacity and
legitimacy. It has failed to get a grip on insecurity and
has itself been responsible for killing more of its own
citizens than any other group.177
Public security, justice and impunity: Focusing solely
on the Maoists as instigators of unrest is unhelpful.
Other parties are not nearly as non-violent as they pretend; some fringe groups make no claims to peaceful
methods and have been increasingly active.178 Insecu-
Ajit Tiwari, "Govt initiates contacts with Tarai armed
groups", Republica, 24 June 2009.
175 Ibid.
176 Crisis Group will examine public security issues in a
separate forthcoming report.
177 According to the most systematic, but not necessarily comprehensive, reports, the police were responsible for nineteen
of the 44 killings carried out by identifiable groups in the
first six months of 2009. Two killings were committed by
the Maoists, ten by various Tarai-based armed groups and
three by the Nepal Defence Army. The perpetrators in most
cases, however, remain unidentified. See INSEC, "Trend
Analysis", at
178 In a front-page feature on increasing violence even the
relentlessly anti-Maoist Nepali Times' top three highlighted
violent clashes had no Maoist involvement; instead, they
related to vigilante action by local residents and an armed
clash between NC and UML student unions. "More insecure",
Nepali Times, 10 July 2009. This is nothing new. Brutal
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Page 33
rity is partly an outcome ofthe conflict and the Maoist
"lesson" that taking up arms can be an effective political tool. But it is about much more than just the
Young Communist League (YCL).179 While the Maoists have been responsible for beatings and killings in
the period since the ceasefire, many more oftheir own
activists have been killed - and with much less public
acknowledgment.180 An analysis of how killings break
down - by the state, political parties, armed groups,
criminal groups and the like - reveals a murky and
ever more confused picture with a multitude of perpetrators and victims.181 The sense of upheaval and lawlessness, even if not borne out by statistics, has also
contributed to increased vigilantism, underscoring the
capacity for violence in society at large.182
Weak judicial system: Thejudiciary is corrupt, ineffective and in need of reform. This reality is widely
acknowledged by judges, lawyers and politicians alike.
But there has been no meaningful action. Systemic
fights between non-Maoist parties were a feature of the pre-
CA election period (see Crisis Group Report, A Peaceful
Revolution?, op. cit), although the changed environment
has encouraged some participants to forget this. One senior
UML office-bearer, for example, professed no recollection
of an 8 April 2008 clash with the NC in his own district that
had left several fellow party workers seriously injured. Crisis Group interviews, Lamjung district, April 2008 and
April 2009. Crisis Group witnessed a far larger, and potentially more dangerous, pitched battle between NC and UML
supporters armed with staves, rods and homemade firearms
during the by-election in President Yadav's home village
(Sapahi, Dhanusha district, 10 April 2009).
179 A leaked "security agency" report listed dozens of active
(29) and inactive (25) armed groups and even more unarmed
straggle movements or pressure groups (141). See Ravi
Dhami, "Rokiena hatyahimsako shrinkhala", Annapurna
Post, 2 July 2009.
180For example, UML Youth Force members killed a Maoist black flag waver protesting Prime Minister Nepal's first
visit to his home district of Rautahat after his swearing-in.
The incident was briefly reported in a couple of news outlets but did not even warrant mention in the main newspapers. "Maoist cadre assaulted by UML cadres succumbs to
injuries",, 6 June 2009.
181 Recent terrorist attacks have been more random, and more
risky to civilians, than almost any assaults during the 1996-
2006 insurgency. For example, the bombing of a church in
the capital left three dead - while a CA member accused of
planning deadly bus bombings in Kathmandu in September
2007, Baban Singh, has managed to have his name removed
from charge sheets.
182 There has been an alarming spate of public lynchings of
alleged kidnappers, initially a series of beatings and immolations in the Tarai and latterly copycat vigilante incidents
elsewhere, including the beating to death of three teenage
college students involved in a relatively harmless punch-up
just outside Kathmandu.
weaknesses have complex institutional roots, as practitioners have long recognised: an action plan for judicial reform accepts the need for a major overhaul.183
The outgoing and newly appointed chief justices have
both emphasised that delays and corruption have undermined the courts' credibility.184 There has been next
to no action on addressing conflict-era crimes, including investigating disappearances.185
Development derailed: Basic development is more or
less on hold. The biannual Nepal Development Forum
bringing together government and donors, already delayed, had been scheduled for May 2009. It was postponed indefinitely when the government fell, a step
symbolic ofthe disruption to development efforts as a
whole. Donors could be asking tougher questions of
both themselves and the major parties. Awareness that
development as usual is not quite possible does not in
itself translate into realistic programming to fit with the
halting transition to peace. The last government was
excellent at raising money but, despite the many political
incentives, poor at spending it. Without a radical improvement in the political dynamics, the state's absorption capacity will remain very low. However generous
donors are, their contributions will not be appropriately utilised until central and local governance is restored and until they stop subsidising needless security
expenditure at the expense of basic essentials.
Weak local governance: Despite repeated promises
of cross-party agreement to re-establish local government bodies, there has been no action. Local politicians
in several districts cited the absence of elected representatives and conflict between parties at the district
and village level as a major obstacle to disbursing development funds and ensuring the provision of basic
services.186 However, there has been progress on the
establishment of local peace committees (LPCs). By 1
Kamal Raj Sigdel, "Massive judicial reforms on anvil",
The Kathmandu Post, 18 May 2009.
184 New Chief Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhee has called for
lawyers to help "eliminate corruption from the judiciary",
while Nepal Bar Association chair Bishwo Kant Mainali
argued the judiciary could also help itself "if it delivered
fair judgments". "CJ seeks lawyers' help", The Kathmandu
Post, 18 May 2009. Mainali himself had earlier been at the
centre of a heated row when the supreme court barred him
from practising for accusing judges of corruption. A more
in-depth exposition of the new chief justice's views is
available in Nepali: "Kanunlai janatale suraksha ra shantiko
rupma anubhut gama sakun", interview, Annapurna Post,
11 May 2009.
185 Crisis Group will be examining peace and justice issues
in detail in a forthcoming policy report.
186 Crisis Group interviews, western and central districts,
March-April 2009.
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luly 2009, 55 of Nepal's 75 districts had an LPC in
place and the MoPR had started deploying secretaries
to support them. LPCs could be a crucial element of
the peace process.
If they function well, they can promote inter-party cooperation, deal with local disputes before they get out
of hand, facilitate the provision of relief and rehabilitation funds and support the district administration in
maintaining law and order. In some districts, LPCs
have, with the encouragement of government officials,
taken on a broad mandate to deal with sensitive issues.187
Fostering local collaboration can go some way towards
insulating against the dramatic ups and downs of national politics. LPCs bring together party officials and
figures from civil society, as well as conflict victims
and representatives of marginalised communities. This
is a good thing. Nevertheless, LPCs are not a long-term
solution. They are neither elected nor transparent and
they risk the appearance of serving political parties'
interests (albeit by sharing out the spoils across the
spectrum) rather than serving local communities' needs.
They deserve conditional support, as long as they are not
encouraged to entrench themselves at the expense of
the promised return to accountable governance.
Growing military budgets are a worrying indicator. Increased post-conflict military spending not only suggests a shaky belief in the ceasefire but increases the
risk of a return to war. The most serious academic
analysis of this topic shows that many post-conflict
governments tend to avoid the "peace dividend" of
reducing military expenditure on the assumption that
maintaining high investment will deter renewed conflict. In fact, this strategy is "worse than ineffective":
"Far from deterring conflict, high post-conflict military spending actually significantly increases the risk
of renewed conflict".188 Moreover, the authors of this
study conclude that their results underestimate the risks:
"Other research has established that high military spending reduces growth, while growth tends to reduce the
risk of conflict" .189 A "peace dividend" of sharply curtailed military spending both reduces direct conflict risks
and indirectly contributes to stabilisation by boosting
economic growth.
Crisis Group interviews, Syangja, Gulmi and Arghakhanchi districts, April 2009.
188 Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler, "Military expenditure in
post-conflict societies", Economics of Governance, vol. 7
(2006), pp. 89-107.
189Lbid,p. 103.
Despite the durable, three-year military ceasefire, Nepal's 2009-2010 budget increased defence expenditure
by more than 27 per cent.190 (This figure does not include funds that are indirectly diverted to the military;
only those budgeted for the ministry of defence itself.)
With a total allocation of Rs. 15.6 billion (approx.
$203 million), more will be spent on the NA than on
providing electricity - a bizarre prioritisation given
both the desperate need for power for industrial development and the acute shortages that have affected
the influential urban population. The NA will also
account for almost as much expenditure as health (Rs.
18.5 billion/$240 million), and almost as much as
agriculture and irrigation combined.
The amount allotted is less than the NA's own target.
It had publicly pushed for an increase of over 60 per
cent; the defence ministry had reportedly called on the
finance minister to approve a total of Rs. 18 billion
($234 million).191 Army officers argue, with justification, that they need extra funds to address chronic deficiencies in basic infrastructure and equipment.192
Many soldiers, possibly up to half of the NA's forces,
do not have adequate barracks and are forced to live in
bunkers and other temporary structures. This is a legacy of rapid expansion during the conflict, when funds
were targeted at immediate military needs rather than
long-term infrastructure.
The call to create long-term facilities for an army of
the current size illustrates the army's reluctance to revert to an appropriately resourced peace-time role. It
has also been accompanied by a demand for a large
increase in helicopters - potentially useful to deal with
natural disasters but more plausibly requested to prepare for possible conflict. Most importantly, such procurement would provide the multi-million-dollar kickbacks that the top brass enjoyed during the war and
have subsequently been deprived of.
190The 2008-09 defence budget was Rs. 12.3 billion ($159
million); for 2009-2010 the government has proposed 15.6
bn ($203m). In practice, expenditure may be much higher.
The revised estimate for actual spending in 2008-2009 was
Rs. 14.5 bn ($189m) - more than 18 per cent over the
original budget. Budgets, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, Government of Nepal.
191 General Katawal had reportedly asked for a Rs. 20bn
($260m) budget and ultimately persuaded the defence minister to request the finance ministry for Rs. 18 bn ($234m).
"NA asks for additional budget",, 18 June
192 Crisis Group interviews, senior NA officers, western and
central regions, April, June and July 2009.
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As before,193 the headline figures also exclude expenditure on civil and armed police, as well as the large
sums devoted to supporting the 19,000 Maoist combatants in cantonments: a total number of personnel
that exceeds that ofthe NA. Perhaps not surprisingly,
most domestic press analyses of the budget barely
mentioned the extent of expenditure on the NA, Nepal
Police and the Armed Police Force (APF).194 This despite the fact that Finance Minister Surendra Pandey
had been happy to tell the international media that
"My priority in the budget will be to address the security issue", with a particular focus on increasing security spending to satisfy industries and investors.195
The NA has not disguised its deep reluctance even to
consider reductions in troop numbers until the peace
process is complete. By this it means it should retain
its full strength, with enhanced resources, until the
Maoist combatants have been disarmed and rehabilitated, the constitution has been written, elections have
been held and a new government installed legitimately
under the new constitution. Even then, it argues that
there should be no reduction in its strength unless and
until a full national security strategy is in place.196
Although the new government has resisted the NA's
more extreme demands, its significant hike in defence
budgets will both stifle economic development and
increase mutual mistrust by suggesting low commitment to peace. Money will be diverted from vital tasks,
such as investing in health, education and industry.
Aggressive signals will be sent to the Maoists. Maintaining NA recruitment while pushing for PLA degradation is a clear attempt to re-engineer the balance of
power, which risks pushing Maoist fighters back to
See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, op. cit, p. 18.
194 For example, one detailed survey of key features did not
mention the defence budget despite discussing the allocations
for education (Rs. 46.52bn/$605.7m), roads (Rs. 18.49bn/
$240.7m), drinking water (Rs. 9.04bn/$ 117.7m), electricity
(Rs. 14.69bn/$191.3m), health (Rs. 18.67bn/$243.1m),
agriculture (Rs. 8.60bn/$112m), irrigation (Rs. 7.95bn/
$103.5m) and social security (Rs. 7.78 bn/$101.3m). Ramesh
Shrestha, "Sector-wise budget allocations",,
14 July 2009.
195Cherian Thomas, "Nepal will spend more on security as
industrial output falters", Bloomberg, 24 June 2009.
196 "Any decision regarding the size of the Nepalese Army
should be taken only after considering the following: when
a new constitution is made and general election has been
conducted; new government comes in power and formulates a national security policy; based upon the assessment
of threats, national economy and other geo political factors
the need of security forces is made". "Management of integration of Maoist combatants", NA briefing, op. cit.
war purely to protect their interests.197 In an atmosphere already poisoned by the peddling of "Sri Lanka
models" of all-out war, this step will only further spoil
the chances for stability.
The narrow focus on arms, cantonments and military
matters has, from the start ofthe peace process, obscured
the more important issue of demilitarisation. Arms
monitoring, integration and rehabilitation are all controversial topics. But they are all discrete, small, manageable issues in comparison to the broader question
of demilitarising the Maoist movement, the state and
smaller political and criminal outfits. Dealing with Maoist army combatants and the mechanics of NA accountability is the first step. Grappling with the transformation of political and institutional cultures is a longer
term project requiring leadership, determination and a
clear sense of direction.
An obvious starting point would be Maoist action on
discharging ineligible supposed combatants in line with
repeated promises.198 This will also depend on the state
of planning by the MoPR and supporting international
agencies. Rehabilitation plans need to be appropriately
tailored and sold to those being discharged, rather than
imposed. Ideally, a successful discharge process could
encourage other steps forward and become a confidence-
building tool. If mishandled, however, it could cast a
pall over the wider discussion of verified combatants'
integration and rehabilitation.
Making the AISC work is critical. Getting its composition and leadership right is just the start. It must
separate the technical and political: parties should stop
pretending the technical subcommittee can take real
decisions on hotly contested topics. Feeding in technical options and advice will be essential; it is good that
there is a mechanism to do this. But it cannot take the
As Collier and Hoeffler observe, "the longer the peace lasts
the more the military capability of the rebel organization
decays. This decay is much more pronounced than for the
government army. After all, the normal state of government
armies is to be at peace. They are organized so as to be financed without the need to fight, and to maintain a degree
of combat effectiveness through training. By contrast, there
is no example in history of a rebel army sustaining itself
financially and militarily as a combat-ready force through a
prolonged period of peace". Collier and Hoeffler, op. cit, p. 91.
198 For example, as prime minister, Prachanda explicitly promised action to Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN special representative for children and armed conflict, during her December 2008 Nepal visit. "Nepal Maoists pledge to discharge
child soldiers: UN", Agence France-Presse, 5 December 2008.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 36
toughest decisions, nor can it achieve much until they
are made.
Talking numbers cannot be avoided for much longer.
When Prime Minister Nepal reiterated in lune 2009
that integration would be completed within six months
the timetable sounded like wishful thinking.199 His
government's official program has formalised this
commitment, although remaining silent on the parallel
requirements for security sector reform.200 More importantly, Prime Minister Nepal put the question of
numbers on the agenda, even if his comments were misquoted. He had reportedly suggested that some 5,000
Maoist combatants could be integrated into the NA.
The Maoists cried foul at the figure but the stance,
if genuine, would be a step forward. First, unlike his
defence minister, the prime minister would have confirmed that significant integration into the NA is part
of the peace deal; secondly, 5,000 would be a fairly
generous opening position for negotiations.201 Although
Nepal denied the comments, Peace Minister Rakam
Chemjong insisted that even more than 5,000 could be
absorbed.202 Regardless of any final outcome, talking
numbers would help.
International support can be better focused and more
urgently mobilised. Countries with longstanding military links - the U.S. and UK in particular, but ideally
India, China and others too - should actively explore
how they could help train integrated NA forces. Conversion training for former PLA combatants, most likely
including officer training, will be needed. Reform of
"Nepal PM says Maoist peace process stalled", Reuters,
25 June 2009.
200 The new government has promised that "The supervision, integration and rehabilitation of the combatants of the
Maoist army and management of arms will be done in accordance with the provisions of agreements including the
Comprehensive Peace Accord signed between the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
The supervision, integration and rehabilitation of the combatants of the Maoist army will be carried out prior to the
completion ofthe task of writing the new constitution". Policies and Programmes, op. cit, Art. 19.
201 While those involved in the early peace negotiations consistently refer to an unwritten agreement that "some thousands" of Maoist combatants would enter a reformed national army, most non-Maoists cite a figure below 5,000.
Crisis Group interviews, passim. The total reportedly mentioned by Prime Minister Nepal would be especially generous considering the harm done to the UCPN(M) negotiating
position by Prachanda's apparent admissions of inflated
numbers in the Shaktikhor video.
202 Chemjong reportedly said that all qualified Maoist combatants could be integrated into the NA. "Qualified Militias
to be integrated into Nepal Army: Minister", Telegraph
Weekly, 27 June 2009.
the NA will also entail revised approaches from internationals, in terms of attitudes and practical assistance. Detailed plans may be best discussed privately
with the government but there would be no harm in
publicly explaining the options available on request and
emphasising the willingness to support the inevitable
transition. Those who continue to resist change will
find their influence in the future, reformed, army much
Finally, and most importantly, the bigger picture of
demilitarisation must not be obscured. Quibbling over
cantonment numbers is natural but does nothing to
address the much more immediate threats posed by
groups outside the formal agreements. Militias, party
youth outfits, armed groups and violent criminal mafias
represent the reality of militarisation. As long as both
Maoist and state politics are themselves militarised,
lasting solutions will remain beyond reach.
The risks of failure are more stark than ever. The refrain of "give war a chance" has grown steadily louder
and more insistent in the months since the Maoists first
assumed leadership of the government. Senior NA
commanders talk consistently of the likelihood that
they will have resumed hostilities with the Maoists by
the autumn. Diehard anti-Maoists within the army, the
political parties and elsewhere are pushing hard to make
this a reality. Maoist firebrands are assisting their
efforts by insisting on a return to revolution and the
establishment of a people's republic.
Those who want war have not yet won the day. The
Maoist leadership has not allowed itself to be provoked
and has reiterated its adherence to the peace process.
Sensible political leaders in the NC, UML and MIF are
aware of the risks of a return to conflict and an over-
assertive military. An often myopic media has also
woken up to the concerted efforts to derail the peace
process. India, for all its distrust ofthe Maoists, does
not want to see armed conflict reignite and would only
support an army mobilisation, or political intervention, in extreme circumstances.
This means the priority for spoilers is to create circumstances where a return to conflict appears a reasonable
option. The possibilities here are numerous. One can
expect efforts to repeat the propaganda coup of the
Prachanda video, to keep the Maoists on the back foot
and revive fears over their intentions if they appear
flagging. A push for "zero tolerance" policing, already
being touted in the press, could be used to crack down
on the YCL and provoke a response. Stirring up trouble
in the Tarai would not be difficult, given the volatile
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 37
political mix and the opportunities to play on multiple
divisions. The declaration of a state of emergency
could be proposed as a reasonable step to contain disorder, especially as it would grant the delayed constitutional process a six-month extension. The president,
given the green light by parties happy that he intervened against the Maoists, may be encouraged to take
further steps.
The time has come for powerful Nepali players to make
their minds up. If Maoist ideologues Kiran, Gaurav
and their cohorts really want to be pure revolutionaries then they should go back to the jungles, resume the
"people's war" and stop pretending to be part of the
process.203 If visceral anti-Maoists are genuinely convinced they will never change and the only option is
war then they have a duty to make their case openly
instead of privately plotting "Sri Lanka models". If
fanatics on either side lack the courage to put their
doubts into practice, then it is time they be told to stop
undermining the process. It is very hard to build confidence when more extreme elements on both sides
keep upping the rhetorical ante, implying they have no
faith in the peace process and fuelling a more confrontational atmosphere.
Civil society may have lost some of its unity and
credibility but it should be able to unite in pushing this
message. Wilful spoilers have been incited and indulged by people who ought to know better. It is time
to stop spoiling them before they have the chance to
spoil the peace process for good.
203 As the Indian Maoists have suggested, they could "realize the futility of going into the electoral game and, instead,
should concentrate on building class straggle and advancing
the people's war in the countryside". To do this, they "should
pull out the PLA from the UN-supervised barracks, which
are virtually like prisons for the fighters, reconstruct the organs of people's revolutionary power at various levels, retake
and consolidate the base areas, and expand the guerrilla
war, and class and mass straggles throughout the country".
Open letter to UCPN(M), op. cit.
Cautious optimism is still an option in Nepal but the
grounds for it are increasingly shaky. The peace process has built several impressive achievements, from a
solid ceasefire to successful elections and the start of a
democratic constitution-writing process. Many potential
disasters have been averted. Parties across the board
have capable and committed leaders who, when push
comes to shove, are not always as short-sighted and
irresponsible as their inflammatory public pronouncements suggest. The cross-party capacity for dialogue,
compromise and cooperation for broader national interest has been dented but not destroyed.
Most Nepalis have readily accepted the UCPN(M) as
a political party, albeit with reservations about their
continued use of violence. However, most would like
the Maoists to be democratic without simply becoming replicas ofthe old parties. There remains a strong
demand for a decisive shift away from the perceived
corruption, self-interest and destructive behaviour of
the 1990s. There already is one UML: people do not
want just another ofthe same but something fresh. But
the Maoists often seem to have retained the worst of
their own behaviour and adopted some ofthe worst of
other parties', instead ofthe other way round.
It is naive to pretend that the risks of failure have not
increased. Consensus politics lies in tatters and divergent interests, always present, have become sources of
festering distrust and bitterness. With the king gone,
there is no common enemy to provide a rallying point.
Political parties are weak and divided; the state is losing legitimacy and capacity. Capable honest brokers,
so essential in forging the peace deal, are almost absent. Civil society is fractured; the UN has lost its gloss;
India appears partisan and interventionist. The incentive of elections, in which all parties could imagine
potential advantage and which formed a focus for international pressure, has evaporated. The constitutional
process limps onwards but generates little political enthusiasm, especially as its completion will trigger fresh
polls for which most parties are woefully ill prepared.
Those arguing for a return to war barely conceal their
agenda - and appear to be finding new takers. The peace
process has become much more complex and more
The current heightened tensions and confrontational
mood are symptoms of how the peace process was
crafted. It was not based on wide buy-in within key
parties. For the NC, Koirala ran the show without discussing strategy with senior or junior party workers, let
alone selling it to them. Prachanda often moved ahead
of his party and the PLA, papering over serious dis-
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 38
agreements; key figures such as Kiran and Gaurav, now
leading the internal opposition, were still in prison
while the major early negotiations took place and do
not feel any ownership or responsibility for the twelve-
point agreement or ceasefire. The UML was out ofthe
game during the critical early talks and, relegated to
the role of piggy-in-the-middle, became increasingly
lost in its own messy internal politics. The NA was
not represented in the peace talks (and never accepted
their outcome), still feels unrepresented and has taken
no steps to make itself institutionally capable of adjusting to change.
Perhaps most importantly, India is now suffering from
the way it crafted its decisive mid-2005 policy shift.
Although the decision to drop the king and back a
Maoist-mainstream alliance was taken after serious top-
level consideration, its implementation was delegated
to covert intelligence operatives, the government failed
to bring on board significant opponents (including the
Indian army and sceptics in many parties) and there
has been subsequently been almost no genuine debate
in New Delhi on this most important area of regional
policy. Parliament has not held ministers to account;
bureaucrats have neither acknowledged nor answered
for their mistakes. New Delhi's own democratic deficit, sadly and ironically, now threatens the democratic
transition in Nepal that it so bravely backed at the outset. Its backtracking threatens both Nepal's stability
and India's own core interests.
But India, much as it may try, does not rule Nepal.
Nor is it primarily responsible for Nepal's problems.
The peace process can still be rescued and the historical legacy is still there for political leaders to claim.
Getting to a ceasefire, elections and a constitution-
drafting process required courage and statesmanship
on both sides. When pressed, top leaders proved they
had these qualities. But the political process rests on
weak institutions. State bodies are alarmingly fragile;
parties are buried in internal feuds and personality
clashes. Like it or not, hopes for renewing the drive
for lasting peace centre on two people: Pushpa Kamal
Dahal "Prachanda" and Girija Prasad Koirala. The
dynamics of their critical relationship may have deteriorated but they can jump start the process if they
If they recover some of their former boldness they
could restore much of Nepal's battered dignity and
tattered sovereignty. Broadening the peace process to
bring parties and other players on board could deliver
on the promise of peace, democracy and change that
brought people onto the streets in April 2006. If they
fail, Nepal's growing inequality, weakening state and
restive, politically aware population make it a country
ripe for revolution.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 13 August 2009
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 39
The boundaries and names shown and the designations
used on this map do not imply official endorsement or
acceptance by the United Nations.
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 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 40
CPI (Maoist)
Army Integration Special Committee
Agreement on Monitoring ofthe Management of Arms and Armies, December 2006
Armed Police Force
Bharatiya Janata Party
Constituent Assembly
Chief of Army Staff
Comprehensive Peace Agreement, November 2006
Communist Party of fndia (Marxist)
Communist Party of fndia (Maoist)
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), now UCPN(M)
Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist)
Interim Constitution
Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee
Local Peace Committee
Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (sometimes referred to in other sources as the Madhesi People's Rights
Forum, MPRF)
Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction
Member of Parliament
Nepalese Army
Nepali Congress
Office ofthe United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
People's Liberation Army (referred to in UN documents and agreements such as the AMMAA and
December 2007 23-point agreement as "Maoist army")
United Nations Security Council
Special Representative of the [UN] Secretary-General
United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
United Nations Mission in Nepal
Young Communist League
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 41
The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, with
some 130 staff members on five continents, working
through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to
prevent and resolve deadly conflict.
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Foundation and private sector donors, providing annual
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August 2009
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 42
Uzbekistan: In for the Long Haul, Asia Briefing N°45, 16
February 2006 (also available in Russian)
CentralAsia: What Role for the European Union?, Asia Report
N°l 13, 10 April 2006
Kyrgyzstan's Prison System Nightmare, Asia Report N°118,
16 August 2006 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: Europe's Sanctions Matter, Asia Briefing N°54,
6 November 2006
Kyrgyzstan on the Edge, Asia Briefing N°55, 9 November 2006
(also available in Russian)
Turkmenistan after Niyazov, Asia Briefing N°60,12 February 2007
Central Asia's Energy Risks, Asia Report N°133, 24 May 2007
(also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: Stagnation and Uncertainty, Asia Briefing N°67,
22 August 2007
Political Murder in CentralAsia: No Time to End Uzbekistan's
Isolation, Asia Briefing N°76, 13 February 2008
Kyrgyzstan: The Challenge of Judicial Reform, Asia Report
N°150, 10 April 2008 (also available in Russian)
Kyrgyzstan: A Deceptive Calm, Asia Briefing N°79, 14 August 2008 (also available in Russian)
Tajikistan: On the Road to Failure, Asia Report N°162, 12
February 2009
China and North Korea: Comrades Forever?, Asia Report
N°112, 1 February 2006 (also available in Korean)
After North Korea's Missile Launch: Are the Nuclear Talks
Dead?, Asia Briefing N°52, 9 August 2006 (also available in
Korean and Russian)
Perilous Journeys: The Plight of North Koreans in China and
Beyond, Asia Report N°122, 26 October 2006 (also available
in Korean and Russian)
North Korea's Nuclear Test: The Fallout, Asia Briefing N°56,
13 November 2006 (also available in Korean and Russian)
After the North Korean Nuclear Breakthrough: Compliance
or Confrontation?, Asia Briefing N°62, 30 April 2007 (also
available in Korean and Russian)
North Korea-Russia Relations: A Strained Friendship, Asia
Briefing N°7f, 4 December 2007 (also available in Russian)
South Korea's Election: What to Expect from President Lee,
Asia Briefing N°73, 21 December 2007
China's Thirst for Oil, Asia Report N°153, 9 June 2008 (also
available in Chinese)
South Korea's Elections: A Shift to the Right, Asia Briefing
N°77, 30 June 2008
North Korea's Missile Launch: The Risks of Overreaction,
Asia Briefing N°91, 31 March 2009
China's Growing Role in UN Peacekeeping, Asia Report
N°166, 17 April 2009 (also available in Chinese)
North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs,
Asia Report N° 167, 18 June 2009
North Korea's Nuclear and Missile Programs, Asia Report
N°168, 18 June 2009
North Korea: Getting Back to Talks, Asia Report N°169, 18
June 2009
Nepal: Electing Chaos, Asia Report N° 111, 31 January 2006
Pakistan: Political Impact of the Earthquake, Asia Briefing
N°46, 15 March 2006
Nepal's Crisis: Mobilising Intemational Influence, Asia Briefing
N°49,19 April 2006
Nepal: From People Power to Peace?, Asia Report N° 115, 10
May 2006 (also available in Nepali)
Afghanistan's New Legislature: Making Democracy Work, Asia
Report N°l 16, 15 May 2006
India, Pakistan and Kashmir: Stabilising a Cold Peace, Asia
Briefing N°51, 15 June 2006
Pakistan: the Worsening Conflict in Balochistan, Asia Report
N°119, 14 September 2006
Bangladesh Today, Asia Report N° 121, 23 October 2006
Countering Afghanistan's Insurgency: No Quick Fixes, Asia
Report N°123, 2 November 2006
Sri Lanka: The Failure of the Peace Process, Asia Report
N°124, 28 November 2006
Pakistan's Tribal Areas: Appeasing the Militants, Asia Report
N°125, 11 December 2006
Nepal's Peace Agreement: Making it Work, Asia Report N°126,
15 December 2006
Afghanistan's Endangered Compact, Asia Briefing N°59, 29
January 2007
Nepal's Constitutional Process, Asia Report N° 128, 26 February
2007 (also available in Nepali)
Pakistan: Karachi's Madrasas and Violent Extremism, Asia
Report N°130, 29 March 2007
Discord in Pakistan's Northern Areas, Asia Report N°131, 2
April 2007
Nepal's Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?, Asia Report N°132,
18 May 2007 (also available in Nepali)
Sri Lanka's Muslims: Caught in the Crossfire, Asia Report
N°134, 29 May 2007
Sri Lanka's Human Rights Crisis, Asia Report N°135, 14
June 2007
Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, Asia Report N°136, 9 July 2007
(also available in Nepali)
Elections, Democracy and Stability in Pakistan, Asia Report
N°137, 31 July 2007
Reforming Afghanistan's Police, Asia Report N°138, 30 August 2007
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 43
Nepal's Fragile Peace Process, Asia Briefing N°68, 28 September
2007 (also available in Nepali)
Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan, Asia Briefing
N°69, 22 October 2007
Sri Lanka: Sinhala Nationalism and the Elusive Southern
Consensus, Asia Report N°141, 7 November 2007
Winding Back Martial Law in Pakistan, Asia Briefing N°70,
12 November 2007
Nepal: Peace Postponed, Asia Briefing N°72, 18 December 2007
(also available in Nepali)
After Bhutto's Murder: A Way Forward for Pakistan, Asia
Briefing N°74, 2 January 2008
Afghanistan: The Need for International Resolve, Asia Report
N°145, 6 February 2008
Sri Lanka's Return to War: Limiting the Damage, Asia Report
N°146, 20 February 2008
Nepal's Election and Beyond, Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
(also available in Nepali)
Restoring Democracy in Bangladesh, Asia Report N°151, 28
April 2008
Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?, Asia Report N° 155, 3
July 2008 (also available in Nepali)
Nepal's New Political Landscape, Asia Report N°156, 3 July
2008 (also available in Nepali)
Reforming Pakistan's Police, Asia Report N°157,  14 July
Taliban Propaganda: Winning the War of Words?, Asia Report N°158, 24 July 2008
Sri Lanka's Eastern Province: Land, Development, Conflict,
Asia Report N° 159, 15 October 2008
Reforming the Judiciary in Pakistan, Asia Report N°160, 16
October 2008
Bangladesh: Elections and Beyond, Asia Briefing N°84, 11
December 2008
Policing in Afghanistan: Still Searching for a Strategy, Asia
Briefing N°85, 18 December 2008
Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, Asia Report N° 163, 19 February 2009 (also available in Nepali)
Afghanistan: New U.S. Administration, New Directions, Asia
Briefing N°89, 13 March 2009
Pakistan: The Militant Jihadi Challenge, Asia Report N°164,
13 March 2009
Development Assistance and Conflict in Sri Lanka: Lessons
from the Eastern Province, Asia Report N° 165, 16 April 2009
Pakistan's IDP Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities, Asia
Briefing N°93, 3 June 2009
Afghanistan's Election Challenges, Asia Report N°171, 24
June 2009
Sri Lanka's  Judiciary:  Politicised Courts,   Compromised
Rights, Asia Report N°172, 30 June 2009
Papua: The Dangers of Shutting Down Dialogue, Asia Briefing
N°47, 23 March 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh: Now for the Hard Part, Asia Briefing N°48,29 March 2006
Managing Tensions on the Timor-Leste/Indonesia Border,
Asia Briefing N°50, 4 May 2006
Terrorism in Indonesia: Noordin 's Networks, Asia Report N° 114,
5 May 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Islamic Law and Criminal Justice in Aceh, Asia Report N°l 17,
31 July 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Papua: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, Asia Briefing
N°53, 5 September 2006
Resolving Timor-Leste's Crisis, Asia Report N° 120, 10 October
2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh's Local Elections: The Role ofthe Free Aceh Movement
(GAM), Asia Briefing N°57, 29 November 2006
Myanmar: New Threats to Humanitarian Aid, Asia Briefing
N°58, 8 December 2006
Jihadism in Indonesia: Poso on the Edge, Asia Report N°127,
24 January 2007 (also available in Indonesian)
Southern Thailand: The Impact of the Coup, Asia Report
N°129, 15 March 2007 (also available in Thai)
Indonesia: How GAM Won in Aceh , Asia Briefing N°61, 22
March 2007
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Current Status, Asia Briefing
N°63, 3 May 2007
Indonesia: Decentralisation and Local Power Struggles in
Maluku, Asia Briefing N°64, 22 May 2007
Timor-Leste's Parliamentary Elections, Asia Briefing N°65,
12 June 2007
Indonesian Papua: A Local Perspective on the Conflict, Asia
Briefing N°66, 19 July 2007 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh: Post-Conflict Complications, Asia Report N°139, 4
October 2007 (also available in Indonesian)
Southern Thailand: The Problem with Paramilitaries, Asia
Report N°140, 23 October 2007 (also available in Thai)
"Deradicalisation" and Indonesian Prisons, Asia Report N°142,
19 November 2007 (also available in Indonesian)
Timor-Leste: Security Sector Reform, Asia Report N°143, 17
January 2008 (also available in Tetum)
Indonesia: Tackling Radicalism in Poso, Asia Briefing N°75,
22 January 2008
Burma/Myanmar: After the Crackdown, Asia Report N°144,
31 January 2008
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Publishing Industry, Asia
Report N°147, 28 February 2008 (also available in Indonesian)
Timor-Leste's Displacement Crisis, Asia Report N°148, 31
March 2008
The Philippines: Counter-insurgency vs. Counter-terrorism in
Mindanao, Asia Report N° 152, 14 May 2008
Indonesia: Communal Tensions in Papua, Asia Report N°154,
16 June 2008 (also available in Indonesian)
Indonesia: Implications ofthe Ahmadiyah Decree, Asia Briefing N°78, 7 July 2008 (also available in Indonesian)
Thailand: Political Turmoil and the Southern Insurgency,
Asia Briefing N°80,28 August 2008 (also available in Thai)
Indonesia: Pre-election Anxieties in Aceh, Asia Briefing
N°8f, 9 September 2008 (also available in Indonesian)
Thailand: Calming the Political Turmoil, Asia Briefing
N°82,22 September 2008 (also available in Thai)
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 44
Burma/Myanmar After Nargis: Time to Normalise Aid Relations, Asia Report N°161, 20 October 2008 (also available in
The Philippines: The Collapse of Peace in Mindanao, Asia
Briefing N°83, 23 October 2008
Local Election Disputes in Indonesia: The Case of North
Maluku, Asia Briefing N°86,22 January 2009
Timor-Leste: No Time for Complacency, Asia Briefing N°87,
09 February 2009
The Philippines: Running in Place in Mindanao, Asia Briefing N°88, f 6 February 2009
Indonesia: Deep Distrust in Aceh as Elections Approach,
Asia Briefing N°90,23 March 2009
Indonesia: Radicalisation ofthe "Palembang Group", Asia
Briefing N°92,20 May 2009
Recruiting Militants in Southern  Thailand,  Asia Report
N°i70,22 June 2009
Indonesia: The Hotel Bombings, Asia Briefing N°94, 24 July
For Crisis Group reports and briefing papers on:
Latin America and Caribbean
Middle East and North Africa
Thematic issues
please visit our website
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 45
Lord (Christopher) Patten
Former European Commissioner for External Relations, Governor of Hong Kong and
UK Cabinet Minister; Chancellor of Oxford
Thomas R Pickering
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Russia,
India, Israel, Jordan, El Salvador and Nigeria; Vice Chairman of Hills & Company
President & CEO
Louise Arbour
Former UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights and Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former
Yugoslavia and for Rwanda
Executive Committee
Morton Abramowitz
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and
Ambassador to Turkey
Emma Bonino*
Former Italian Minister of International
Trade and European Affairs and European
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid
Cheryl Carolus
Former South African High Commissioner
to the UK and Secretary General ofthe ANC
Maria Livanos Cattaui
Member ofthe Board, Petroplus,
Yoichi Funabashi
Editor-in-Chief & Columnist, The Asahi
Shimbun, Japan
Frank Giustra
Chairman, Endeavour Financial, Canada
Stephen Solarz
Former U.S. Congressman
George Soros
Chairman, Open Society Institute
Par Stenback
Former Foreign Minister of Finland
*Vice Chair
Other Board Members
Adnan Abu-Odeh
Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah
II and to King Hussein, and Jordan Permanent Representative to the UN
Kenneth Adelman
Former U.S. Ambassador and Director of
the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal
Former Ambassador ofthe Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia to the U.S.
Kofi Annan
Former Secretary-General ofthe United
Nations; Nobel Peace Prize (2001)
Richard Armitage
Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
Lord (Paddy) Ashdown
Former High Representative for Bosnia and
Herzegovina and Leader ofthe Liberal Democrats, UK
Shlomo Ben-Ami
Former Foreign Minister of Israel
Lakhdar Brahimi
Former Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-
General and Foreign Minister of Algeria
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor to
the President
Kim Campbell
Former Prime Minister of Canada
Naresh Chandra
Former Indian Cabinet Secretary and
Ambassador to the U.S.
Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Former President of Mozambique
Wesley Clark
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander,
Pat Cox
Former President ofthe European Parliament
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Foreign Minister of Denmark
Gareth Evans
President Emeritus of Crisis Group; Former
Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia
Mark Eyskens
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Joschka Fischer
Former Foreign Minister of Germany
Yegor Gaidar
Former Prime Minister of Russia
Carla Hills
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and U.S.
Trade Representative
Lena Hjelm-Walien
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign
Affairs Minister of Sweden
Swanee Hunt
Former U.S. Ambassador to Austria; Chair,
The Initiative for Inclusive Security and
President, Hunt Alternatives Fund
Anwar Ibrahim
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
Mo Ibrahim
Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim
Foundation; Founder, Celtel International
Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of
Religion or Belief; Chairperson, Human
Rights Commission of Pakistan
James V. Kimsey
Founder and Chairman Emeritus of
America Online, Inc. (AOL)
Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister ofthe Netherlands
Aleksander Kwasniewski
Former President of Poland
Ricardo Lagos
Former President of Chile
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Former International Secretary of International
PEN; Novelist and journalist, U.S.
Jessica Tuchman Mathews
President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, U.S.
Moises Nairn
Former Venezuelan Minister of Trade and
Industry; Editor in Chief, Foreign Policy
Ayo Obe
Chair, Board of Trustees, Goree Institute,
Christine Ockrent
CEO, French TV and Radio World Services
Victor Pinchuk
Founder ofEastOne and Victor Pinchuk
Fidel V. Ramos
Former President of Philippines
Guler Sabanci
Chairperson, Sabanci Holding, Turkey
Ghassan Salame
Former Lebanese Minister of Culture;
Professor, Sciences Po, Paris
Thorvald Stoltenberg
Former Foreign Minister of Norway
Ernesto Zedillo
Former President of Mexico; Director, Yale
Center for the Study of Globalization
 Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 73, 13 August 2009
Page 46
Crisis Group's President's Council is a distinguished group of major individual and corporate donors providing
essential support, time and expertise to Crisis Group in delivering its core mission.
BHP Billiton
Canaccord Adams Limited
Mala Gaonkar
Alan Griffiths
Iara Lee & George Gund III
Frank Holmes
Frederick Iseman
George Landegger
Ford Nicholson
Royal Bank of Scotland
StatoilHydro ASA
Ian Telfer
Guy Ullens de Schooten
Neil Woodyer
Crisis Group's International Advisory Council comprises significant individual and corporate donors who contribute
their advice and experience to Crisis Group on a regular basis.
Rita E. Hauser
Elliott Kulick
Hamza al Kholi
Anglo American PLC
APCO Worldwide Inc.
Equinox Partners
Ed Bachrach
Stanley Bergman &
Edward Bergman
Harry Bookey &
Pamela Bass-Bookey
David Brown
John Chapman Chester
Richard Cooper
Neil & Sandy DeFeo
John Ehara
Seth Ginns
Joseph Hotung
H.J. Keilman
George Kellner
Amed Khan
Zelmira Koch
Scott Lawlor
Jean Manas
Marco Marazzi
McKinsey & Company
Najib Mikati
Harriet Mouchly-Weiss
Yves Oltramare
Donald Pels and
Wendy Keys
Anna Luisa Ponti &
Geoffrey Hoguet
Michael Riordan
Tilleke & Gibbins
Yapi Merkezi
Construction and
Industry Inc.
Crisis Group's Senior Advisers
and support are called on from
Martti Ahtisaari
(Chairman Emeritus)
George Mitchell
(Chairman Emeritus)
Hushang Ansary
Ersin Arioglu
Oscar Arias
Diego Arria
Zainab Bangura
Christoph Bertram
Alan Blinken
Jorge Castaneda
Eugene Chien
Victor Chu
Mong Joon Chung
are former Board Members who maintain an association
time to time (to the extent consistent with any other office
Gianfranco Dell'Alba
Jacques Delors
Alain Destexhe
Mou-Shih Ding
Gemot Erler
Marika Fahlen
Stanley Fischer
Malcolm Fraser
I.K Gujral
Max Jakobson
Todung Mulya Lubis
Allan J. MacEachen
Graca Machel
Barbara McDougall
Matthew McHugh
Nobuo Matsunaga
Miklos Nemeth
Timothy Ong
Olara Otunnu
Shimon Peres
Surin Pitsuwan
Cyril Ramaphosa
George Robertson
Michel Rocard
Volker Riihe
Mohamed Sahnoun
Salim A. Salim
Douglas Schoen
with Crisis Group, and whose advice
they may be holding at the time).
Christian Schwarz-
Michael Sohlman
William O. Taylor
Leo Tindemans
Ed van Thijn
Simone Veil
Shirley Williams
Grigory Yavlinski
Uta Zapf


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