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Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists International Crisis Group 2005-11-28

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Asia Report N° 106 - 28 November 2005
Crisis Group
A. Outlook 3
B. Imperatives 4
C. Internal Tensions and Constraints 5
D. Preparation for Talks 7
A. Outlook 8
B. Imperatives 9
C. Internal Tensions and Constraints 10
D. Preparation for Talks 10
A. First Moves 13
B. Stumbling Blocks 13
C. Ceasefire and Beyond 14
D. India's Role 15
A. The Delhi Meeting 16
B. Achievements 17
C. Shortcomings 17
D. The Agenda to Come 18
A. Players Not at the Table 21
B. The Case Against Dialogue 21
C. Support From the Sidelines 22
A. Deadlock or Breakthrough? 24
B. Mainstream Fault Lines 24
C. Decision Time for the Parties 25
D. The King's Cards 25
A. Map of Nepal 28
B. The November 2005 Mainstream Parties-Maoists Agreement 29
C. About the International Crisis Group 31
D. Crisis Group Reports and Briefings on Asia 32
E. Crisis Group Board of Trustees 35
 Crisis Group
Asia Report N°106
28 November 2005
Nepal's mainstream parties and Maoists have reached
agreement on a basic alliance against the monarchy. That
they were talking was not new: all sides have kept in
contact throughout the ten-year-old conflict. But this time
they have developed a serious agenda which offers the
framework of a peace deal. Their dialogue had India's
tacit backing and the deal was finalised at meetings in
New Delhi.
The agreement reflects some important achievements: the
Maoists have formally committed themselves to joining a
multiparty system and the mainstream parties have signed
up to a process of constitutional change. Each side has
recognised past mistakes and vowed not to repeat them.
But many issues present challenges which have only been
deferred. The Maoists reject the parties' call to restore the
last parliament and the parties have not accepted the
rebels' republican agenda. Questions of disarmament,
monitoring and future talks facilitation have been brushed
over lightly. And it is not clear ifthe new alliance will
hold out an olive branch to the king or try to force him
into submission.
The palace, which runs an embattled government,
had tried to conceal its unease as the talks went on but
ministers have now gone on the offensive against the new
alliance. Conservative Nepali commentators and U.S.
diplomats had warned repeatedly of consequences ifthe
parties did a deal with the Maoists. Some critics hoped
that the talks would fall apart or be derailed, but the
twelve-point November agreement has dramatically -
though not yet irreversibly - changed political realities.
Why have the parties and Maoists done a deal? They have
differing political imperatives, and they have not changed
their long-term goals, but there are some grounds for
compromise and both have realised that their own strength
is not enough to be decisive. The discussions have
identified a possible structure for peace talks - progressing
via interim arrangements to a constitutional assembly and
disarmament - but each issue raises its own problems.
The mechanics of dialogue are also far from
straightforward. Although all sides had previously kept
channels of communication open, formal talks bring risks.
This engagement has taken place more comfortably thanks
to India's tacit endorsement. However, the negotiators
lack the safety net of international legitimacy and open
facilitation. The Maoists are prepared and have a clear
strategy while the parties are still working out joint
positions. Each side has been happy to publicise certain
details but the text ofthe November agreement is thin and
meetings have necessarily been secretive. The Indians
have played their cards close to their chest and left even
close allies guessing about their intentions.
The parties' willingness to deal with the rebels has raised
the stakes for all players in the conflict. It has also brought
new risks. This is only a bilateral process; other crucial
players - notably the palace - are excluded. The parties
are neither fully united nor well prepared and may concede
too much too easily as bargaining progresses, while the
Maoists retain their arms and could revert to a military
approach at any time or could use talks and a loose alliance
to build a stronger urban base and squeeze the mainstream
parties in their last bastion. The November deal could
prompt a violent backlash ifthe palace feels threatened.
Nevertheless, the alliance presents new opportunities:
□ the Maoists are acting under genuine imperatives
and constraints and they are willing to offer
significant concessions;
□ this is a chance to bring the Maoists into the
mainstream while they are still united and can
bring their armed cadres with them;
□ the dialogue has already led to a commitment in
principle to disarm;
□ this could be the best way of addressing broadly
acceptable parts of the Maoist agenda without
giving way on everything; and
□ if managed carefully, the process could strengthen
democracy and help address weaknesses in the
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005 Page ii
1990 multiparty constitution and the parties that
have embodied it.
The ultimate outcome of the talks process cannot be
predicted but the loose party-Maoist alliance has created
a new dynamic. In their first high-level face-to-face
meeting, party leaders and the Maoists have forged a
basic plan for joint action against the monarchy. In the
weeks to come this plan will take more concrete shape,
and discussions will move to a second stage.
A range of factors will then affect the approaches of
both sides. Internal tensions and calculations of personal
advantage may be particularly debilitating for the
mainstream parties. As always, both sides will be watching
other domestic and international forces and adjusting
course accordingly. The king, keen to bolster his own
power, still has cards to play. The talks may not in
themselves lead to a new peace process but they offer
the best hope of breaking Kathmandu's political impasse.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 28 November 2005
 Crisis Group
Asia Report N°106
28 November 2005
Nepal's mainstream parties and the Communist Party
of Nepal (Maoist) have agreed to pursue a joint, if still
vague, strategy against what they call "the autocratic
monarchy" and a plan for constitutional reform that, if
implemented, will bring the Maoists into mainstream,
non-violent politics.1 The two sides have been engaged in
serious talks since May 2005, their sustained dialogue the
most notable result of King Gyanendra's February 2005
royal coup.2 Although the initial months of talks did not
produce any concrete outcome, the leaders held their first
joint face-to-face discussions on 17 November in New
Delhi, overcoming the last obstacles to a basic deal.3
Their twelve-point agreement was published five days
later in simultaneous press releases from the seven-party
alliance and Maoist chairman Prachanda.4
Amidst the drama of its conclusion and sudden
announcement, the deal itself has been little analysed.
Its achievements have been highlighted by sympathetic
□ it formalises the Maoist offer to enter a multiparty
political system and specifies an elected constituent
assembly as the accepted forum for all sides to
debate the constitutional revisions that will shape
the new set-up;
1 For the text ofthe parties-Maoists agreement announced on 22
November 2005, see Appendix B below. This report uses the
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) - abbreviated to CPN(M) -
and "Maoists" interchangeably, although strictly speaking the
party is only one part of the broader Maoist movement. See
Crisis Group Asia Report N°104, Nepal's Maoists: Their
Aims, Structure and Strategy, 27 October 2005, for a detailed
2 Crisis Group reporting on the Nepal conflict both before and
after the royal coup is available
3 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, 17-18 November and
New Delhi, 18-19 November.
4 Seven-party and Prachanda press statements, 22 November
□ the parties and Maoists both admit to past
shortcomings and promise to improve their
behaviour, while reaffirming their commitment
to human rights, including full civil and political
liberties; and
□ both sides call for impartial outside assistance,
led by the United Nations "or any other reliable
international supervision", in supervising elections
and overseeing the cantonment of state and Maoist
However, the agreement is silent on many ofthe tricky
issues that will have to be addressed, some of them in the
near future, if it is to lead to a sustained peace process:
□ there has clearly been no meeting of minds so far
on major political issues such as the future role
ofthe monarchy, the electoral system and reforms
to address caste, gender, ethnic and regional
□ the brief mention of cantonment during elections
is not the same as a formal promise of Maoist
disarmament and does not in itself address the
threat of continuing coercion and intimidation;
□ there are no detailed plans for monitoring and
implementing the agreement, nor for shaping
the agenda of the inevitable further rounds of
negotiation; and
□ the scope and nature of joint action to pressure the
monarchy has not been clarified nor is it clear what
calculations the parties and Maoists have made
about how the palace will react to their deal.
The party-Maoist engagement, much of which has
been conducted semi-publicly and with India's tacit
endorsement, has divided observers. Some saw the
tentative negotiations as an opening to revive a peace
process and viewed this as the best chance to persuade
the Maoists gradually to abandon their armed struggle
and enter multiparty politics. Civil society groups
have welcomed the November agreement; the United
Nations and diplomatic missions have offered cautious
endorsement. Others warned that the parties were being
dangerously naive and allowing themselves to be used
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 2
by the rebels. The royal government has yet to comment
formally on the deal but initial responses from individual
ministers have been largely negative, with particular
criticism ofthe supposed external role in facilitating
the talks.
Whatever reactions it provokes, the party-Maoist
engagement is not the result of capricious whim on either
side. It is the product of identifiable political imperatives
and a rational attempt to negotiate contrasting interests. In
the face ofthe palace's refusal to accommodate their
demands, the main parliamentary parties view talking to
the Maoists as their logical option. For the Maoists, this
dialogue represents the best chance to address strategic
weaknesses that they have been forced to recognise.
The new alliance could, at a minimum, compel the
palace to return to a constitutional arrangement in which
the parliamentary parties have a significant role. Ifthe
king does not relent, and the parties stay intact in the
face of any moves the palace makes to divide them, the
limited alliance between the parliamentary parties and
the underground Maoists may develop a platform of joint
action against a politically active monarchy.
The complex tripartite political conflict between the
palace, the parliamentary parties and the Maoists appears
to have polarised for now into a rather simpler struggle
between pro-royal and anti-royal forces. In the event of a
united, nationwide campaign against direct monarchical
rule, the palace and the military would find it difficult
to maintain the status quo. However, the situation is
not quite that simple. The party-Maoist alliance is neither
deep nor stable, representing a convergence of interests
rather than genuinely shared goals. It may develop further
but the king also has some cards left to play to preserve
his political power.
The palace has refused to consider any compromise with
either the political parties or the Maoists. Despite the fact
that the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) has gained little
ground militarily, it has firmly rejected the idea of
reciprocating the unilateral ceasefire the insurgents
declared in early September 2005. For the time being, a
security-first approach to the insurgency accompanies
the palace's longer-term drive to re-establish political
supremacy over the democratic institutions. The king
has disregarded a chorus of domestic and international
criticism since his coup, although pressures are quietly
It is too early to predict the party-Maoist alliance's
ultimate destination. The participants themselves know
that the number of variables involved requires them to be
flexible. Two major elements ofthe political landscape
are relatively constant: the palace (backed by the RNA)
and the Maoists. Since the king reduced their role to street
agitation, parliamentary forces have oscillated between
these two constants. However, the relationship between
the Maoists and the palace is not set in stone: at times they
have tacitly conspired against parliamentary governments
and the civil police, while at other times the ideological
gulf between them has been sharply defined.
Each force's past conduct and perceived interests will
modulate, if not determine, the decisions ofthe other two.
None can act independently, yet none can trust the others
fully. Given this balance of domestic forces, external
factors assume great importance. Regardless of their
public rhetoric or behaviour, all political actors in Nepal
keep one eye constantly on international power centres
and seek to build support beyond the country's borders.
The key question is whether the tentative alliance can
either decisively shift the alignment of internal political
forces or prompt a re-evaluation of international attitudes.
Despite the many shifting variables, the positions,
interests and calculations ofthe sides are relatively clear.
This report examines why the parliamentary parties and
the Maoists have done a deal and analyses the substance
oftheir agreement. It also details the underlying interests
of both sides and explains how these have shaped
their negotiations. It assesses the internal and external
political dynamics shaping this process and the resulting
opportunities, costs and risks. As the November agreement
moves the process into a new phase, the final sections
look at possible scenarios for the next steps and their
See Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°41, Nepal: Beyond Royal
Rule, 15 September 2005.
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 3
A.    Outlook
Nepal's major parliamentary parties have been uniformly
hostile towards the Maoists since the launch oftheir armed
struggle in 1996. However, they have also maintained
channels of communication with them. Until a few years
before they went underground, the first generation Maoist
leaders had been active participants in the movement
for constitutional rule and popular sovereignty.6 Most
mainstream party leaders have links of some sort to the
senior Maoist leaders - one of whom, party spokesman
Krishna Bahadur Mahara, was a member ofthe 1991
parliament - and have engaged them in private informal
talks from time to time in the past ten years.7 Ofthe
smaller parties, Unity Centre-Masai and its parliamentary
front organisation, Janamorcha Nepal,8 have maintained
fraternal relations with the Maoists. This is due to close
personal links that have survived serious differences
on tactics and strategy: the Maoists broke from these
organisations to engage in armed struggle and have
harshly criticised their former comrades.9
The major parties have been inconsistent in dealing with
the Maoists. For example, within the Nepali Congress
(NC) - which was in power for most of the period
between the start ofthe insurgency and the dissolution of
parliament in October 2002 - there were differences
of approach between Girija Prasad Koirala and Sher
Bahadur Deuba, who both served as prime minister.10 The
former consistently adopted a law and order approach to
the insurgency and attempted to crush it through police
action. The latter declared a unilateral ceasefire in July
Deepak Thapa, "Radicalism and the emergence ofthe Maoists",
in Michael Hutt (ed), Himalayan People's War: Nepal's Maoist
Rebellion (London, 2004), p. 35.
7 For example, eleven senior leaders from six leftist parties -
including UML General Secretary Madhav Nepal - met top
Maoist leaders Prachanda, Baburam Bhattarai and Mohan
Vaidya for talks in the Indian town of Siliguri, West Bengal,
in October 2001.
8 The Janamorcha Nepal, hereafter Janamorcha, is sometimes
referred to by its English translation, People's Front Nepal.
9 The Maoists and the Janamorcha have a history of animosity
since the beginning ofthe people's war, with the former attacking
the latter's cadre in many of the western districts in which both
were active. The Janamorcha has held protest rallies and exposure
campaigns against the Maoists, something that no other party has
seriously undertaken. Nevertheless, they are generally willing to
ally politically.
10 The contradictory positions adopted by parties and
individuals continued through the governments of Krishna
Prasad Bhattarai (May 1999 to March 2000), Koirala (March
2000 to July 2001) and Deuba (July 2001 to October 2002).
2001 when he came to power and invited the Maoists for
talks. When negotiations broke down, he too opted for a
military solution, labelling them terrorists and deploying
the army.11
While parties in power tried to tackle the insurgency with
the state machinery at their disposal, the parliamentary
forces collectively failed to address the Maoists' political
agenda. Mainstream leaders were conservative and
cautious, their policies moulded by a strong vested
interest in maintaining the social and economic status
quo. This left them unable to deal with the Maoist demands
while the insurgency was still in its infancy. Eventually,
the parties had to come to terms with some of the key
ones, such as a constituent assembly and republic, which
they had previously opposed.
When the poorly-paid and ill-equipped police failed to
contain the rebels, there was no option but to upgrade the
counter-insurgency to a full-fledged military campaign.
With the palace in de facto control ofthe Royal Nepalese
Army (RNA),12 parliament and government progressively
surrendered their constitutional powers as a price for the
military's participation in the counter-insurgency. By the
time the parties woke up to this reality, the palace and the
military had effectively taken over the institutions ofthe
state.13 The royal coup of 1 February 2005 was the
culmination of this process.
When the RNA was deployed in November 2001,
parliament was asked to approve a state of emergency and
pass anti-terrorist legislation. The civil war was fought by
the palace and the army on their own terms. In October
2002, Deuba's government was dismissed by the king.
Deuba had also espoused a security-led response to the
insurgency from its outset in 1996, when he was prime minister.
12 Crisis Group Asia Report N°99, Towards a Lasting Peace in
Nepal: The Constitutional Issues, 15 June 2005, explains
the RNA's constitutional position and relationship to the king.
Army personnel are exempt from the purview of civilian
statutory bodies such as the Commission for the Investigation of
Abuse of Authority. The RNA, however, insists its operations
are "carried out under the jurisdiction and authority of the local
and district administrations as they were in the past". Letter
from Brigadier Dipak K. Gurung, director, Directorate of J?ublic
Relations, Royal Nepalese Army Headquarters, to Gareth
Evans, Crisis Group President, 20 October 2005. Brigadier
Gurung was writing in response to Crisis Group Briefing, Beyond
Royal Rule, op.cit.
13 For example, the unified command structure introduced in
November 2003 gave the RNA effective operational control
of civilian police as well as increased influence in district-
level government; the appointment of local and regional
administrators similarly extended palace power. See Hari
Roka, "Militarisation and democratic rule in Nepal", Himal
South Asian, December 2003, and Crisis Group reporting at
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 4
Since then the parties have been fighting a losing battle
with the monarch and the military to regain their authority
within the constitutional institutions. They had already
been forced to surrender most oftheir influence across the
countryside in the face of a brutally effective Maoist
campaign to eliminate pluralist politics.
B.    Imperatives
The parties' approach to engaging the Maoists is based on
their perception of shared threats and weaknesses. Their
overriding aim is to recover their position at the heart of
a multiparty system and thereby political power. From
1996 to mid-2001 the main threat to the parliamentary
system was the Maoists. Following the June 2001 palace
massacre and Gyanendra's accession to the throne, the
palace has become more of a threat. The king has played
party leaders off against each other and profited from
their disunity and hunger for office. When protests have
threatened to gain mass support in urban areas, the king
has capitalised on the natural fault lines between and
within parties by selectively offering leaders and parties
the opportunity to run nominal governments.14
The parliamentary parties have lost touch with their own
support bases and the electorate at large. Since the last
general election in 1999, active interaction with voters has
been minimal. While extra-parliamentary forces steadily
consolidated their positions, the main parliamentary parties
- and factions within each of them - were preoccupied
with using their urban cadres to pursue purely partisan
objectives. Within the NC, rival factions led by Krishna
Prasad Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala, and Sher Bahadur
Deuba used the Maoist insurgency to undermine each
other and by July 2002 their party had split. At the same
time, the dissolution of local elected bodies exacerbated
their problems, reducing opportunities to replenish their
ranks and keep in daily contact with the public.
The parties have surrendered institutional territory to the
palace and political territory to the Maoists. In the 1999
elections - which had the highest turnout in Nepal's
electoral history - the NC and Communist Party of Nepal
(Unified Marxist-Leninist, hereafter UML) between
them won almost 70 per cent ofthe vote.15 This mass
Between October 2002 and February 2005, the king appointed
three governments, each of which he rapidly dismissed
(although royalist prime ministers Chand and Thapa opted
to resign rather than be ousted).
15 The turnout was 66.79 per cent - an improvement from the
all-time low of 61.68 per cent in the 1994 elections. The
argument that mass disillusionment with the parties had set in
due to frequent changes of government does not explain
why the parliament that witnessed the largest number of
base, had it been cultivated and nurtured, should have
been a bulwark against both royalist and Maoist attempts
to encroach on the parliamentary system. But the parties'
sustained neglect of mass politics since 1999, their narrow
focus on Kathmandu intrigues, and their factional
infighting and jockeying for power eroded popular
sympathy. Few tears were shed when Gyanendra sidelined
them after October 2002. Nor could they boast of having
addressed the fundamental grievances that drove support
for the Maoists.
By the time the king completed his power grab in February
2005, the parties had lost all significant leverage.
They agreed to push for revival ofthe dissolved 1999
parliament, as their most tangible evidence of a mass
base and their last source of institutional power. The
king would not give in to this demand, the international
community did not support it and the Maoists opposed
it. As the parties ceded their grip on political influence,
their conduct and demands lost relevance.
While the parliamentary parties are not facing total
extinction - they survived 30 years of royal rule before
1990 under much more strained circumstances - they
are seriously weakened. The combination of external
threats and their own multiple shortcomings have left
them with only minimal power to revive their fortunes.
The immediate imperatives for them to consider in
dealing with the Maoists include:
□ Need for allies. The February 2005 royal coup
finally forced them to accept that they lack
independent leverage. Talking to the Maoists
may lead to substantive negotiations on a final
settlement or may just put pressure on the palace
to relent and cut a deal. In either case the parties
could profit from careful engagement.
□ Countering Maoist violence. The parties have
suffered from direct armed assault by the Maoists
for several years. As they surrendered first political
territory, then the umbrella of the state security
forces, they have had no means of their own to
defend against Maoist violence. Dealing with the
Maoists may be their best bet to obtain a truce that
protects their workers.
□ Little popular support. While the people still
appear to favour a multiparty system in principle,
there is a visible lack of countrywide popular
sentiment for the parties. The movement against
the palace which was initiated in 2003 was
predominantly urban and largely confined to
governments was followed by elections with the highest
turnout. Moreover, the vote was gradually being consolidated
between the two major parties.
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 5
party cadres. This lack of mass support may
have emboldened the king to seize full power in
□ Radicalisation of student and other grassroots
activists. Students formed the backbone ofthe
anti-palace agitation but their more radical
demands, such as for a constituent assembly,
were rejected by the NC and UML leaderships.
Rank and file opinion is largely against the king.
Party leaders can use their dialogue with the
Maoists to please their more radical cadres and to
threaten the palace with republicanism.
□ Lack of leverage on the palace. There is little the
parties can do currently to force the king's regime
to compromise with them. As if to press home
this point, the government has made no secret of
its disdain for political parties. For the last two
years, while the king refused to concede to their
demands, the Maoists have consistently sought to
conduct joint agitation with the parliamentary
parties against a common enemy.16 The Maoist
analysis about the general direction in which the
polity was drifting was largely correct.
Until the Maoist position was clarified, the political parties
feared the insurgents might do a deal with the king. This
would have meant many more years in the wilderness for
the parties. Reports of clandestine agreements between
the palace and the Maoists in the early days of the
insurgency are part of Nepal's political folklore.17 The
parties have themselves entered ideologically incompatible
cohabitations so such an apparently contradictory
partnership could not be ruled out. When the Maoists
agreed to talk with the palace-appointed Lokendra Bahadur
Chand government in 2003, such suspicions were
heightened. Indeed, one question that fuelled the Maoists'
internal debates of late 2004 and early 2005 was whether
to do a deal with the palace. The parliamentary parties'
apprehension was not unfounded.
As early as April 2003, while the Maoists were negotiating
with the Chand government, Baburam Bhattarai, in discussions
with Koirala, had supported joint efforts with the parties to
establish popular sovereignty. Crisis Group interview, August
17 After the 1 June 2001 palace massacre, Baburam Bhattarai
claimed in a newspaper article that the Maoists had an
"undeclared working understanding" with the deceased King
Birendra, Kantipur, 6 June 2001. Dhirendra, Gyanendra's
younger brother, had been the palace point-man for secret
dealings with the Maoists while Birendra was on the throne;
he also died in the massacre.
C.    Internal Tensions and Constraints
1. The alliance
The parliamentary parties which make up the seven-party
alliance are the NC, UML, Nepal Sadbhavana Party
(Anandi Devi), Nepali Congress (Democratic, NC(D)),
Janamorcha Nepal, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party
(NWPP) and United Left Front. The two which have been
more or less consistent in their support ofthe palace -
the royalist Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and Badri
Prasad Mandal's Nepal Sadbhavana Party - are not in
the alliance. The RPP's offshoot, former Prime Minister
Surya Bahadur Thapa's Rashtriya Janashakti Party,
has been more circumspect, following the alliance in
announcing a boycott of proposed municipal polls but not
joining it. The alliance against the palace has not been
immune to the lure of office. In April 2004 eight parties
were aligned, with even the RPP joining in the agitation.
Within two months, however, the UML, NC(D) and RPP
had left to form the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government
that was dismissed by the king in February 2005. Even
the NC may have been tempted to abandon the agitation
in May 2004 when courted by the palace.
2. Lack of trust
Given this history of opportunistic behaviour, members
ofthe present alliance find it hard to trust each other.
The NC(D) is regarded by some - particularly its mother
party, the NC - as liable to abandon the agitation and go
over to the palace. It is the other six parties that have
developed enough trust to deal with the Maoists on the
basis of mutual consultations. Theirs may not be the
most principled alliance but their collective predicament
is a strong shared factor. This has led each of the six
to conclude that the others are similarly motivated to
pursue dialogue with the Maoists. The NC(D), for now,
is marginalised.
3. Internal problems
Though party leaders have a clear incentive to carry on
informal negotiations with the Maoists, there are also
strong internal factors militating against commitment
to a full-fledged alliance. There are deep horizontal and
vertical divisions within the major parties and tensions
between them. Leaders have not been able to formulate
broadly acceptable policies, and they lack confidence
in dealing with a force that has always been very clear
about its objectives and methods. They are also aware
oftheir parties' organisational disrepair.
Feedback within the parties is limited, and policies tend to
be determined by a small minority of central figures. In the
absence of any other institutional sources of power, vertical
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 6
divisions are inevitable, especially as all parties
suffer from a surfeit of leaders, not all of whom can be
accommodated with important offices. This gives party
offices disproportionate importance at a time when the
parties themselves command little influence and creates
friction and factional splits within the organisation. The
variety of opinions expressed by each party on every
crucial issue is an expression of this intense factionalism.
Since parliamentary parties are characterised by extreme
internal mistrust, they find it difficult to evolve collective
leadership, create a parliamentary united front and present
a common agenda to the Maoists for discussion. It is not
only the Maoists that the parties distrust; they equally
distrust each other, fearing clandestine deals. Whether
parties which have shown little sign of long-term vision
can overcome these dilemmas remains to be seen.
Moreover, each ofthe main parties faces its own special
4. Nepali Congress
The NC, generally perceived to be socially conservative,
has a substantial constituency that wants to preserve the
socio-economic status quo. It is not immediately clear
how Girija Prasad Koirala will deal with such forces
in his party if the bargain with the Maoists involves
conceding more on the issue of socio-economic reforms
than they are willing to tolerate. This issue has acquired
greater importance since the 30 August-2 September
2005 national convention at which the party dropped
adherence to constitutional monarchy from its political
program. Simultaneously, Koirala has packed the central
organs with his relatives and supporters, all of whom are
strongly opposed to the Maoists. On the central committee,
only dissident leader Narahari Acharya has strongly
argued for an alliance with the Maoists.18 However, since
the NC is also perceived to be pragmatic, it is possible for
its leaders to work out a consensus on the assumption that
they can eventually convert the outcome to their advantage.
5. UML
The UML faces a different problem. As a left-oriented,
cadre-based party it needs a strong organisational base to
survive. However, it has lost local party workers to the
Maoists, many of them disillusioned by the party's failure
to live up to its leftist image. By 2001, 21 of the Maoists'
25 parallel district governments were in formerly UML
political territory.19 Since then the Maoists have grown
rapidly in eastern Nepal, further eroding the UML's
traditional bastion. Despite this loss of cadres, the UML
chose to ignore the opinion of its district level workers
and participate in the palace-appointed Sher Bahadur
Deuba government of June 2004, after breaking
ranks with the parties agitating for the restoration of
constitutional government.
The UML has more reason than the NC to be hesitant
about working towards an alliance with the Maoists,
whom even its pro-republican, second-generation leaders
oppose20 Overall, though the party presents an appearance
of unity, it has its share of dissidence and factional rivalry.
However, should the party ally with the Maoists, it is less
likely to split than other parties because of its greater
internal discipline and the stranglehold that the dominant
faction has. This would make it difficult for dissident
leaders to break away, especially since there are few
options available to them outside the party.
6. Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi)
The Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi), a regional
organisation that aims to represent the interests ofthe
southern Tarai plainspeople, also faces a dilemma. The
Maoists have divided Nepal into nine autonomous ethnic
regions, one of which covers the Sadbhavana Party's core
constituency. If this carve-up is tacitly recognised by other
parties, its political base would be considerably weakened.
However, it could seize on the conceptual weaknesses of
these autonomous zones, which are based on the principle
of historical ethnic homelands, and offer a political critique.
That might also give the Maoists a way out of the
corner they have painted themselves into, since few such
homelands are truly dominated by a single ethnic group.
But to do this the Sadbhavana Party would have to
reformulate its own politics and move away from its
narrowly ethnic/regional agenda.
7. Nepali Congress (Democratic)
The NC(D), which led a palace-appointed government
from June 2004 to February 2005, is the weakest link in
the alliance. Having opposed the restoration ofthe 1999
parliament between 2003 and 2004, on 5 May 2005 the
party's central committee did a U-turn to bring it in line
with other parties.21 Since it has previously accepted
office on the king's terms, however, other politicians
fear it could reach another settlement with the palace.
Even if the king chooses not offer a deal, the party will
find it difficult to convince the other alliance members
Crisis group interview, September 2005.
19 Krishna Hachhethu,  "The Nepali state and Maoist
insurgency, 1996-2001", in Hutt (ed.), op. cit, p. 77, table 5.
20 Crisis Group interview, August 2005. As discussions
intensified in November 2005, eleven members ofthe politburo
reportedly voiced their opposition to any deal with the Maoists.
21 "Parties to cobble 7-party alliance", Kantipur Online, 5 May
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 7
and the Maoists oftheir bona fides. Girija Prasad Koirala
is apparently opposed to NC(D) inclusion in closed door
negotiations with the Maoists.22 If he has his way, the
party will have to accept its marginal position and continue
working for greater acceptance. Madhav Nepal did visit
NC(D) leader Deuba - still detained on corruption charges
- on 21 November to brief him on the New Delhi talks
but by this stage the key decisions had already been
8.       Smaller parties
The other three members ofthe alliance are too small to
pull much weight. They are wary oftheir larger partners
but because they are small, they are of little use to the
palace. The Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, which
espouses Korean-style communism, has on occasion
expressed support for the king, but he has not paid much
heed. Internal tensions within these parties over allying
with the Maoists will be minimal. The Janamorcha fell
out with the Maoists over the question of armed struggle
(they criticised it as being untimely) but this has not stood
in the way of seeking an alliance.24 The United Left Front
is primarily relevant because it encompasses a handful of
leaders with personal reputations, such as former armed
revolutionary C.P. Mainali;25 its position towards talks
with the Maoists and future policy options is not clear.
The parties were not well prepared for the talks and will
need to work hard to get themselves into better shape
if they wish to shape the next rounds of negotiation.
Preparation will have to embrace key internal reforms:
unless they can command respect both at the bargaining
table and outside they will not fare well in any talks. The
general direction of the compromise that the dialogue
with the Maoists could yield is no longer in any doubt.
The issues raised by the Maoists have great mass appeal,
and the parties can ignore them only at their own peril.
However, what is more important is the extent ofthe
Crisis Group interviews, October 2005.
23 "Nepal briefs Deuba about Delhi deliberations",, 21 November 2005.
24 Mohan Bikram Singh general secretary of the Unity Centre-
Masai (the underground party for which the Janamorcha is the
parliamentary front organisation), is overtly hostile towards his
erstwhile Maoist comrades, many of whom he schooled in
activism. This is unlikely to decide his party's policy but the
party risks being eclipsed if the Maoists join the parliamentary
25 The ULF brings together C.P. Mainali's CPN(ML), Prabhu
Narayan Chaudhary's CPN (United Marxist) and Krishna Das
Shrestha's CPN (Samyabadi-MLM).
compromise the parties representing the powerful
castes and the economic mainstream are willing and
able to accept without alienating their respective core
They will have to consult with their core constituencies
and seek expert advice on issues such as caste, language,
economy and political reform. Talks intended to build a
serious compromise require clarity about the starting
points of each ofthe parties. This is a rare opportunity for
parties to re-examine the fundamental assumptions of
their political programs and identify the exact degree of
deviation between their starting points and the reasonably
acceptable all-party compromise. Such an exercise would
enable them to sell unpalatable but necessary compromises
to their constituents in advance.
Lacking a demonstrable popular support base, the
immediate function of the parliamentary parties is to
provide legitimacy to whichever side they align with and
thus influence their potential hold on Kathmandu. This
is a limited function but one that the parties can exploit
to the maximum: they may not have the numbers
countrywide, but they can bring Kathmandu to a standstill.
Since the Maoists need them as an ally, they can bargain
for both the freedom to resume political activity, especially
in the countryside, and revive local structures and
protection for the interests they represent.
Since the Maoists' unilateral three-month ceasefire
announced in September 2005, the parties have resumed
political activity across the countryside.26 Nevertheless,
they are not as confident oftheir public reception as they
used to be. Their preoccupation with factional power
struggles reduces the likelihood they will engage in
meaningful reforms. The recent appointment of office
bearers in the NC is an indication that cronyism and
nepotism will not go away easily.27
The present leaders of the parties have not demonstrated
any significant capability to resolve Nepal's armed
conflict and political problems. Their responses to new
developments tend to be ad hoc, whereas the situation
calls for detailed strategies with multiple alternatives
based on a sound grasp ofthe motivations, imperatives
and constraints of all political forces. The current dialogue
has been driven primarily by the Maoists. Marginalised
party leaders could make themselves more effective by
The UML took a systematic approach to sending its central
representatives across the country as soon as it was possible; the
NC has followed with somewhat less consistency. Activities
have included mass meetings, building local committees and
renewing lapsed memberships.
27 "Most of the old faces elected to NC central committee",, 2 September 2005.
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
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Page <
returning to the districts and creating a base at the lower
levels. This is particularly crucial if mass agitation is to be
launched, since a younger generation of activists keen on
protecting their local interests could emerge from the
process. It would also put the parties in a stronger position
vis-a-vis the Maoists.
The parties have not convincingly demonstrated that they
understand the logic ofthe events that have overtaken
them since 2002, or even their own role and significance
in the current balance of forces. Combined with individual
motives, their absence from real mass politics and
uncertain stances on key issues have led their leaders to
express a diversity of opinions. The intellectual resources
they command - as opposed to those available to the
democratic centre as a whole - are less focused than those
that the Maoists and the palace have marshalled. They
have made symbolic progress by admitting to mistakes
while in office but they have been more keen to blame the
palace and the Maoists than address their own failings. If
the mainstream is to reassert itself, it must conduct a more
rigorous analysis ofthe pattern of events after 1996. It has
to address the interlinked trends ofthe constriction of
parliamentary space, the increasing urban-rural polarity
in politics from 2001 and the resulting changes in the
political complexion of Kathmandu and other towns.
A.    Outlook
The Maoists are exploiting the current situation to
advance their cause, as they have on every other occasion
when they have adapted quickly to seize opportunities.
This is to be expected. The critical questions are not those
of Maoist sincerity or altruism but of Maoist perceptions
of self-interest and the chances these may present to build
a democratic peace settlement.
Some in the political parties still maintain that the Maoists
will not settle for anything less than a one-party communist
dictatorship that seeks to re-educate class enemies. But
Maoist strategy since the 2003 ceasefire and talks suggests
a more complex picture. The way in which the Maoists
have adapted to and exploited situations hints at a
realisation that absolute victory is neither practical nor
desirable. "Total seizure of power will unite all forces in
Nepal against the Maoists, and the latter have been careful
to prevent that eventuality through the course of the
people's war in spite of targeting all of them", observes a
political analyst.28 "It is unlikely that the party will attempt
complete seizure of power when they are aware they lack
the capacity".
The Maoists have benefited throughout their armed
campaign from patience and long-term planning, qualities
which their strategy of protracted people's war -
whatever its faults may be - has also imbued in their
cadres. For them, the current situation is a logical
continuation of political developments since the end ofthe
2003 ceasefire. Throughout the agitation against the
palace in 2003 and 2004, the Maoists had called for a
coordinated program with the parties, who ignored that
call since there was still a possibility they would regain
some governance role on their own. When Kathmandu
students became the mainstay of the agitation and the
parties remained passive, the slogan of republican
democracy was raised.
The Maoists thus see one crucial advantage in the situation
after February 2005: the possibility of the king offering
the parties any significant role is minimal. The most he
can do is offer posts to some individuals or a collection
of small parties. This gives the Maoists the chance to
break the stalemate.
Crisis Group interview, New Delhi, October 2005.
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 9
The biggest failure ofthe Maoist strategy is that the urban
insurrection called for by their Prachandapath doctrine
was never on the cards.29 Their presence and activity in
the capital and major towns are limited, and it is here that
the RNA has had some intelligence successes and broken
up networks. Although they wield extensive influence in
the countryside, their military successes and the formation
of parallel governments in the districts and regions will
not in themselves overcome the political deadlock in
Kathmandu. The situation is not yet a complete stalemate
- small micro-level changes can take place, and there has
been a shift in Nepal's overall political framework - but
the broad structure ofthe Nepali polity and the distribution
of power between town and country has not been
transformed. Since the Maoists control large areas of
territory without holding all of it militarily, they are not in
a position to introduce comprehensive changes and durable
institutions. They cannot build a rural state to match the
power ofthe central government.
In the absence of urban insurrection, the Maoists need to
move forward politically by making allies in Kathmandu.
The significance ofthe capital, with its disproportionate
concentration of financial and political resources, cannot
be underestimated in analysing the limits ofthe "people's
war". As long as the monarchy was constitutional and
the parties were parliamentary, the Kathmandu consensus
was anti-Maoist. Constitutional reform was not considered
necessary. Prominent members of the Kathmandu
intelligentsia regarded the Nepali constitution as the best
in the world, and there was little debate on the issue.
The conservative consensus regarded the constituent
assembly as a demand that belonged to the underground
and hence had no legitimacy.30 It was in this atmosphere
of hostility to the Maoists that the peace talks of 2003
commenced in Kathmandu. By the time they collapsed,
the Kathmandu consensus against Maoist demands had
weakened considerably.
The Maoists have won some arguments but not legitimacy.
The longer the king kept the parties out of power, the more
the Maoist agenda began to be discussed openly. By 2004
civil society seminars discussed ethnic and caste issues
in relation to the limitations ofthe constitution and its
institutions. Political leaders in their individual capacity
conceded the need for a new constitution. There were
discussions on the merits of proportional representation
29 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Maoists, for an explanation
of Prachandapath.
30 On constitutional issues, including the rise in support for a
constituent assembly, see Crisis Group Asia Report N°99,
Towards a Lasting Peace in Nepal: The Constitutional Issues,
15 June 2005.
and media commentaries on the failings ofthe system of
governance after 1990. Not all these supported royal rule,
and none advocated the Maoist cause. Yet, they were
all discussing points ofthe Maoists' agenda. These
developments will not have been lost on the Maoists. The
change of attitude in Kathmandu legitimised important
Maoist demands but not their politics; nor did it give them
a clear route to expanding their influence in the capital.
Until February 2005, the Maoists had not resolved
this conundrum - that even as their agenda gained
acceptability, they themselves were left in the wilderness.
As one observer of Maoist politics points out, "both
politically and militarily they had reached their limits.
Their influence in Nepal was not about to wane, but their
legitimacy in Kathmandu was not about to grow either".31
It was partly for this reason that their repeated appeals to
the parties for joint action met with a poor response, even
after UML leader Madhav Nepal reportedly held talks
with them in Lucknow, India, in the third week of
November 2003,32 It is not certain what transpired at that
meeting but a nine-point roadmap he proposed on 10
January 2004 did not take on board long-standing Maoist
The Maoists cannot take Kathmandu militarily, strangle
it into economic collapse or hold it with their current
troop strength even if they were to achieve a surprise
victory. The only way forward for them is to influence it
politically, as they did in 2003, with the threat of continued
military action across the country as leverage. For this the
Maoists need the mainstream political parties. Within their
theoretical framework, they have to pursue united front
tactics, which logically means aiming to complete the
bourgeois democratic revolution against the palace in
alliance with the political parties.34
The parties were not likely to be tempted into such a united
front as long as they believed the monarchy understood it
would ultimately need their support to govern the country.
The king's February coup and his subsequent dismissive
behaviour toward them called that assumption into serious
Crisis Group interview, October 2005.
32 Navin Singh Khadka, "Interpol goes after Nepal rebels",
BBC News,
3246066. stm.
33 The roadmap only spoke of a government of all parliamentary
parties, talks with the Maoists, an interim government, elections
to parliament, and amendment or redrafting ofthe constitution
by the new parliament by two-thirds majority. Amendment of
the constitution through this procedure was clearly intended
to reduce the role of the monarchy while thwarting any of
the Maoists' major reforms, which would be unlikely to gain a
two-thirds majority, either directly or indirectly.
34 Interview with Baburam Bhattarai, Washington Times, 30
July 2005.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 10
question and gave the Maoists for the first time a realistic
opportunity for an alliance with internationally acceptable
political forces. However, the Maoists are aware that the
parties mistrust them for past betrayals and that mainstream
leaders will still attempt to wring concessions from the
king. These compulsions account for their haste in opening
talks with the parties. By May-June 2005, the Maoist
leadership had already worked out its terms for joint action.
The political compulsion for talks and a united front
approach were perhaps reinforced by internal factors.
There had been serious top-level disputes following the
Maoists' August 2004 plenum.35 By January 2005, these
differences had led to disciplinary action against senior
leaders including Baburam Bhattarai that adversely
affected the morale of party cadres; there were rumours
that Bhattarai sympathisers among party workers were
preparing to leave the country for India. The Maoists
initially denied but later admitted that action had been
taken against him.
Seven ofthe seventeen politburo members with voting
rights disagreed with the decision to discipline Bhattarai,36
and the differences between him and Prachanda could
easily have crippled the party. It was obvious, however,
that the Maoists could not afford internal power struggles
at a time when the king had provided their first realistic
opportunity for achieving a united front with the
mainstream political parties. They had to resolve their
leadership problem in order to gain the necessary
confidence of those parties.
The talks about the possibility of forming a united front,
therefore, may have provided both the motive and the
means for resolving the internal differences. The issue
between Prachanda and Bhattarai was apparently whether
to do a deal with the palace or with the parties. The August
2004 plenum had concluded that "Indian expansionism",
backed by "U.S. imperialism", was a major threat.
Prachanda pointed to India's arrest of leading Maoists and
the historical "expansionist doctrine of Nehru" to argue
that India wished to subjugate Nepal.37 Bhattarai countered
that "the principle contradiction ofthe revolutionaries
would be with the monarchy surviving on the strength of
the royal army and the support of the imperialist and
expansionist forces. This is a straightforward and crystal
clear question".38 He harshly criticised those - implicitly
including Prachanda - who were still "looking toward the
monarchy with hopeful eyes".39
Since influential political commentators opposed to the
palace also criticised the action taken against Bhattarai,
it is likely that the settling of leadership problems
simultaneously involved agreement on basic strategic
issues. Bhattarai was authorised to participate in talks in
New Delhi from May 2005 - including the discussions
with Koirala in June - although his reinstatement to
positions of party authority was only officially confirmed
in August. Both Maoist leaders had agreed that they would
treat the monarchy as the primary target oftheir movement,
and they would keep an open mind about India. When
Prachanda accompanied Bhattarai to high-level meetings
in May, it was clear that their differences would not
preclude a working relationship.
Other constraints also pushed the Maoists towards talks.
In the initial months after the royal coup, the king could
have given in to international pressure and accommodated
the parties. The Maoists may have been keen to push
through a united front to pre-empt this possibility. The
major constraint for the Maoists, however, is whether they
can bring their cadres with them to accept a compromise.
There have been persistent rumours, and some solid
evidence, of command and control problems. Although
the movement remains intact and fairly disciplined - the
September ceasefire, for example, has not been perfectly
observed but nor has it been grossly breached - more
controversial party decisions may be harder to enforce.
The November agreement with the parties requires party
cadres to accept norms of behaviour imposed from above.
As they now have to permit mainstream party workers
to resume political activity in areas they dominate, their
conduct will determine whether the leaders' deal actually
works on the ground.
The Maoists are well-prepared for talks, organisationally,
theoretically and programmatically. An October 2005
central committee plenary reportedly resolved all pending
leadership differences.40 The old central committee was
dissolved, and in its place a provisional general convention
organisation committee has been constituted.41 This
35 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Maoists, op.cit.
36 Sudheer Sharma, "Baburamko visthapan", Nepal, 27 March
37 Prachanda, press statement, 31 August 2004.
Baburam Bhattarai, thirteen-point note of dissent submitted
to the CPN(M) central committee, 30 November 2004.
39 Ibid.
40 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu and New Delhi,
October 2005.
41 "Maoists' central committee dissolved", People's Review,
31 October 2005.
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Page 11
convention is likely to be used to convey to the cadres the
radical changes entailed by developments since February
2005. In order to sell party workers on the talks with the
parties, the concessions already made and likely to be
made in future and the changes in strategy, the Maoists
have decided to redouble ideological and political training.
The restructuring is a major undertaking. The Maoists
have decided to "demote" all party committees. The
seven-member standing committee - formerly the highest
decision-making body - has become the politburo; the
seventeen former politburo members now make up the
central committee, while the 100-odd central committee
members have in turn been given responsibility for
regional bureaus.42 The Maoists are also reshaping their
military. They have formed four more army divisions,
bringing the total to seven, and have appointed new
commanders. Three senior divisional commanders -
Pasang, Prabhakar and Ananta - have been reassigned
to non-frontline tasks. They may be working to establish
the "People's Military Academy", which the plenum
decided to set up to improve training.43
The Maoist promise to cease "aggressive actions at the
local level against people, friendly forces and political
forces against regression" is a recognition that such
attacks have not been productive. The dissolution of
party committees and other command structures could be
aimed at curbing the autonomy of lower-level leaders
and improving the central leadership's control, thereby
smoothing the path to a deal with the parties. However,
it is too early to interpret the motives behind this
restructuring with any certainty. Whether they are
serious about these measures or not, the Maoists are
clearly trying to convince the parties that they mean
business. There is still plenty of room for scepticism
but on paper they have made more concessions than
the parties.
This seems to indicate that they are pinning hope on
successful talks as a way of moving forward politically.
However, their stand as talks progress beyond the minimal
understanding reached in November 2005 will depend
on the parties' response. In return for the mainstream
parties accepting an alliance with the objective of forming
an interim government and electing a constituent assembly,
the Maoists say they are prepared to make further
substantial concessions. But they will expect any
compromises on fundamental issues to be compensated
for by benefits in other areas.
42 "Maobadika pachhilla nirnay", Nepal, 27 November 2005.
43 Crisis Group interviews, Nepal, October-November 2005.
The Maoists have not yet made any public statement about
their central committee meeting and its decisions.
1. Domestic political acceptability
The Maoists need to be accepted as a legitimate political
force before they can consider laying down arms.
Legitimacy is crucial from their point of view: it would
help them consolidate politically before they disarm and
demobilise. Their experience of "protracted people's war"
has taught them that winning power in the countryside
is not sufficient. They need an alliance with the political
parties if they are to gain the necessary acceptance in
Kathmandu. They improved their public profile during
the 2003 talks, and they will expect to build on this in
any future negotiations.
2. Allies
From within a broad alliance against the palace, they
will hope to cultivate important and durable allies for
at least three reasons:
□ The king is unlikely to surrender power quickly.
If he does agree to negotiate, he could appeal to
the inherent conservatism of some forces in that
alliance. For the Maoists to prevent excessive
compromises, they need a coalition within the
alliance that is aligned with their main agenda. They
are not alone in believing that certain political
party representatives conceded far too much to the
palace in the 1990 constitution-making process.
A reasonably drawn out campaign of agitation
would help them cultivate the allies they need
to guard against a repetition.
□ The Maoists will need negotiating allies before
they definitively give up their underground
existence. The process is likely to be long and
could well be interrupted one or more times. Above-
ground allies who advocate their cause could help
restart talks and smooth over obstacles. The Maoists
know that the lack of influential above-ground
allies puts insurgents at a disadvantage during
negotiations, which is one reason why they have
maintained more or less amicable relations with
most above-ground forces.
□ Allies will be required even if negotiations lead to
their full return to the mainstream. Ifthe demand
for a constituent assembly is secured, there will be
an immediate realignment of political forces against
the Maoists to neutralise their radical agenda.
Should they fare poorly in the elections to the
assembly, their achievements would be squandered
and their aims thwarted. They thus need to
cultivate long-term allies inside the alliance.
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Page 12
3. Pushing their agenda
Ifthe Maoists are seen to be giving away too much oftheir
socio-economic agenda, they will have difficulty bringing
their cadres along. Presenting issues in stark black and
white terms has not prepared their followers for the messy
process of compromise. The leadership can justify
concessions by theoretical formulations such as the need
to complete the bourgeois democratic revolution but these
have little resonance among their foot soldiers, who have
been at the sharp end ofthe armed conflict. Managing the
transition from the black and white world ofthe insurgency
to the grey zone of compromise will be hard. Maoist
leaders know it will be easier if they can claim to have
achieved many oftheir original demands.
4. Building an urban base
The Maoists could use an alliance with mainstream
parties to penetrate urban areas, particularly Kathmandu,
and influence public opinion. With their radical agenda
and romantic image, they should stand a good chance of
winning support among poor city-dwellers. Their grand
plans for urban insurrection have not been realised but
urbanisation in Nepal has not broken the connections
between town and country, so with some allied help
Maoist gains in rural areas could yet be transmitted
to city residents alienated by the parliamentary parties.
5. International image
As long as the Maoists remain an underground organisation,
no outside powers can formally accept them as a political
force. However, if they manage to surround themselves
with more acceptable company, international resistance
may soften. Any such benefit would initially be incidental
and heavily conditional upon further progress towards
disarmament and visible commitment to mainstream
politics. Nevertheless, it would provide an important new
The parties and the Maoists are not evenly matched in
political resources, clarity of vision, coherence of agenda
and the will to move forward. Their talks have been
tentative and stuttering, making quick progress in May
2005, coming close to stalling in the late summer and then
regaining some momentum in October. November saw the
most dramatic progress, with a face-to-face meeting of
senior Maoist and mainstream leaders in New Delhi
and the formalising of a basic agreement. Nevertheless,
this deal is fairly light on substance and debate on
the most controversial issues has only been deferred.
Whatever the symbolic value of this breakthrough, it
does not in itself make agreement on thorny policy
arguments any easier.
The Maoists renewed their overtures to the political parties
immediately following the February coup but it was
almost four months before the first significant, publicly
acknowledged meeting. This delay cannot be attributed
solely to the main party leaders' long detention and the
Maoists' internal problems. The primary block was a
difference in approach to talks. The Maoists had already
worked out the basic terms for a possible alliance by the
time they held preliminary discussions with the NC
leadership in June 2005. Their proposals, however, had
not been formally approved by their own decision-making
structures, a fact which prompted the mainstream leaders
to demand clarification. Meanwhile, the parties were not
prepared and had not fixed their positions.
The contrasting Maoist and party perspectives on talks
and joint action were clear in statements from Koirala and
Maoist chairman Prachanda in April. On his release from
detention on 1 April, the NC leader categorically ruled out
talks with the Maoists.44 Prachanda, on the other hand,
reiterated his appeal to the parties to unite against
the autocratic monarchy on a minimum program of a
constituent assembly and democratic republic. At the
same time, he did not rule out talks with the king if he
withdrew his 1 February proclamation and was prepared
to allow elections for a constituent assembly.
These statements cannot be taken simply at face value.
Koirala was probably still hopeful the palace would
accept his long-standing demand to restore the dissolved
1999 parliament. Prachanda was hinting at the possibility
of giving up the republican agenda if the king met some
important Maoist demands. It could be that Koirala was
looking for the best bargain and was trying to keep all
options open. Alternatively, his apparent refusal to deal
"Koirala rules out working with Maoists", Kantipur Online,
2 April 2005.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 13
with the Maoists may have been aimed at forcing them
to offer better terms. Whatever the intention behind
Prachanda's statement, by May the Maoists had
apparently resolved their internal problems and chosen
their delegates for informal talks with the parties. Despite
their indecisiveness, the parties were also leaning towards
talks and willing to consider alternative approaches.
The first publicly acknowledged discussions took place
between Koirala and the Maoists in the second week of
June 2005 in New Delhi.45 This high-level encounter
had been preceded by complex talks about talks handled
by other representatives and brokered by neutral
intermediaries. The details have not been formally
disclosed but the Maoists clearly made an offer worth
considering. On 30 June the leaders ofthe seven-party
alliance ruled out immediate talks with the king, with
Koirala declaring they would negotiate instead with the
Maoists to establish democracy and peace.46 On 5 July he
announced that the alliance had decided the conflict
should be resolved through "political means" and
revealed that he had put a proposal to the Maoists on
behalf of the alliance and was hoping for a positive
response.47 However, contradictory signals came from
individual party leaders.
Periodic public statements were coordinated to give an
impression of forward movement. On 18 June, the parties
asked the Maoists to shun violence and not to disrupt the
pro-democracy movement; the following day Prachanda
issued a statement that the Maoists would not carry out
physical action against any unarmed person. On 11 July,
the Maoists considered "very positively the public
expression to have a dialogue" and invited the parties to
build an "authentic team" for this with a view to finding a
political solution.48 A week later they emphasised that
they would show maximum flexibility to attain total
democracy.49 On 22 July, Madhav Nepal said that the
Maoists did not have to lay down arms before negotiating
This was their first meeting after February 2005 but not
the first ever: Koirala held face-to-face talks with Prachanda
and Baburam Bhattarai in New Delhi in April 2002.
46 "Parties rule out immediate talks with king", Kantipur Online,
30 June 2005. On 15 June, second rung leaders of the major
political parties had already indicated that an agreement with the
king was not possible. "Agreement with king impossible", The
Kathmandu Post, 16 June 2005.
47 "King reluctant to resolve Maoist problem: Koirala",
Kantipur Online, 5 July 2005.
48 "Rebels invite parties for talks", The Kathmandu Post, 12
July 2005.
49 "Dr Bhattarai, others reinstated", The Kathmandu Post, 19
July 2005.
with the seven-party alliance50 but within two days the
parties demanded that they clarify their stand on multiparty
democracy, stop targeting educational institutions and
refrain from extortion.51
On 27 July, Prachanda announced that the Maoists were
"prepared to take any decision" to reinstate "the people's
sovereign right and the development of a new political
mainstream".52 He also declared that instructions had
been issued that leaders and workers of the political
parties should not be targeted.53 On the same day - before
the central leadership had even decided on taking the talks
forward - local party units in Humla agreed with the
Maoist unit in the district to form an alliance.54 Apart
from giving a sense of forward momentum, the talks
demonstrated a professional approach to the mechanics
of dialogue. Despite practical difficulties, the two sides
managed not to push each other too far too fast and not to
raise public expectations of an instant deal.
By August, the UML had moved closer to some ofthe
Maoists' non-negotiable minimum issues - a republican
agenda and an interim government. Its ninth central
committee meeting (15-28 August) decided to work
towards "absolute democracy", including a democratic
republic through a constituent assembly.55 The NC, while
not adopting republicanism, dropped its commitment
to constitutional monarchy.56 Prachanda noted in an
interview that "objectively our party has taken the NC's
decision to remove constitutional monarchy from their
party constitution and go ahead for constituent assembly
and the UML's decision that they could go up to [a]
democratic republic through [a] constituent assembly as
positive".57 The stage looked set for more progress.
B.    Stumbling Blocks
For the dialogue to go further, two important gaps had
to be bridged. First, the parties were not going to align
"Maoists' arms no bar for talks: Nepal", The Kathmandu
Post, 23 July 2005.
51 "Prachanda welcomes seven-party statement", Kantipur
Online, 27 July 2005.
52 "Maoist appeal seven political parties for a courageous
decision", KrishnaSen Online, July 27 2005.
53 "Maoists try to assure political parties", The Kathmandu
Post, 28 July 2005.
54 "Parties, Maoists hold talks in Humla", Kantipur Online,
29 July 2005.
55 "UML decides to go for 'democratic republicanism'",, 25 August 2005.
56 On these developments, see Crisis Group Briefing, Beyond
Royal Rule, op. cit.
57 "Interview with Comrade Prachanda", Janadesh,  6
September 2005.
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themselves en masse with the Maoist demand for a
republic. The NC, UML and other members ofthe seven-
party alliance were willing to sign up to a constituent
assembly (though it was not their first preference) but not
to commit themselves further. Secondly, they continued
to call for restoration ofthe 1999 parliament as the first
step both to potential reconciliation with the palace and to
peace talks with the Maoists.58
The Maoists were unwilling to compromise on either
point.59 By mid-August progress towards formal talks
was stuttering. The seven-party alliance expressed
unhappiness with the conduct of Maoist cadres and
said it would seek civil society's help to assess the
implementation of commitments.60 Individual mainstream
leaders also began to speak against talks. Shailaja
Acharya argued that "the two types of polarisations -
king's active monarchy and republicanism - [are]
weakening the middle path of the Nepali Congress".61
Ram Sharan Mahat, a prominent NC leader and party
spokesperson, also opposed talks with the Maoists until
they disarmed.
Meetings between the Maoists and mid-level party
representatives continued, primarily in New Delhi,62
as did telephone discussions.63 But policy differences
were not the only problem. From the earliest stages
of talks about talks, the process itself had presented
challenges. NC-Maoist dialogue provided the initial
momentum, and some in the NC camp were ready to
press ahead to a quick deal regardless of other parties'
interests. While their high-level meetings proceeded,
the UML was left out ofthe loop, despite the presence
of at least one senior leader in New Delhi.64
Informal facilitators were essential for enabling the first
talks but their role also aroused suspicions, and some
UML politicians were concerned that they were being
sidelined.65 The tensions hinted at further problems, and
by October 2005 it was the NC that faced the prospect
of being sidelined by a faster UML-Maoist track.
The constitutional and political aspects of the demand for
restoration ofthe 1999 House of Representatives are discussed
in Crisis Group Report, The Constitutional Issues, op. cit.
59 The divisions on republicanism and the restoration of
parliament are discussed below.
60 "Civil society mediation possible", The Kathmandu Post,
22 August 2005.
61 "Don't leave middle path: Shailaja", The Kathmandu Post,
27 August 2005.
62 Crisis Group interviews, New Delhi, August 2005.
63 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, September 2005.
64 Crisis Group interviews with talks facilitators and observers,
New Delhi, May and June 2005.
65 Crisis Group interviews with UML central committee
members, Kathmandu, June 2005.
Meanwhile, the carefully separated lines of
communication hinted at internal rivalries: NC central
committee members Krishna Sitaula and Shekhar
Koirala dealt with Maoist leaders Krishna Bahadur
Mahara and Baburam Bhattarai respectively.66 G.P.
Koirala and Prachanda thereby ensured that they alone
had access to all channels of information.
The Maoists' September ceasefire declaration was
primarily a goodwill gesture designed to allay domestic
and international apprehensions and build some trust with
other forces. According to Prachanda, the ceasefire was
intended to "encourage all forces within and outside
Nepal who want peace through a forward moving
political solution".67 The declaration explicitly stated that
the ceasefire had been announced with the "aim of doing
away with doubts remaining in some circles" and creating
a "positive solve the problem from the
political forces inside the country to the UN".68 It also
hinted at the political problems outlined above when
it stated that restoration of parliament would serve
no purpose, and hence an interim government and
constituent assembly were the only way to move forward
The Maoist central committee also reportedly adopted a
resolution which addresses three critical issues of import
to the seven-party alliance: commitment to multiparty
democracy; review of all cases of harassment and
terrorising of political opponents and ordinary citizens
and punishment of responsible cadres; and recognition
that armed insurrection is unsustainable and an
understanding with the political parties about a constituent
assembly is needed.70
The ceasefire and the central committee resolution have
had some impact, and the talks may be regaining
momentum. Senior UML leader Bamdev Gautam had
successful discussions with the Maoists in Rolpa in
October 2005.71 They reached an agreement on basic
common goals, and the Maoists guaranteed the safety of
Crisis Group interviews, August-November 2005.
67 Marty Logan, "Ceasefire brings hope of end to violence",
Inter Press Service, 4 September 2005.
68 CPN(M) central committee press statement, 3 September
69 Ibid.
70 Bharat Bhushan, "China offer stumps Nepal Marxist", The
Telegraph, 29 October 2005.
71 "Natra hami siddhinchhaun: Bamdev Gautam", Nepal, 13
November 2005.
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Page 15
the UML's political workers.72 Madhav Nepal emphasised
that political parties "have taken the initiative for a dialogue
with the Maoists so that they can adopt a peaceful political
path".73 He also clarified that his party did not expect
the Maoists to disarm immediately but a "political
process... would lead to the disarming and
decommissioning of arms".74 Nevertheless, he later
asserted that the Maoists were willing to disarm under
UN auspices.75
Since February 2005 India has been more openly
sympathetic to the political parties than some other
external powers. Its longstanding public commitment has
been to multiparty democracy, constitutional monarchy -
and strong counter-insurgency measures. However, it
lacks faith in the RNA's capacity to contain the Maoists
and has become increasingly frustrated with Gyanendra.
India has always maintained multiple channels of
communication, and these may have been used to smooth
the initial party-Maoist talks of May-June 2005. Indeed,
one newspaper report claimed the entire process was
managed by Indian intelligence agencies.76 This is
probably an exaggeration but senior Maoist leaders did
stay in New Delhi for some time and met Indian political
The presence of many Nepali politicians in the Indian
capital during Girija Koirala's visit in early June - and his
admission that he had talked with the Maoists - hint
at India's approval ofthe dialogue. A prominent New
Delhi analyst observed that "there is a suspicion here that
perhaps G.P. Koirala's overtures towards the Maoists
have India's acquiescence if not blessings".78 The
repeated visits of Prachanda, who is highly security
conscious and rarely moves outside the Maoist heartland
areas of mid-western Nepal, suggest the Maoist leadership
has good reason not to feel at risk of arrest. India's first
public response to the November agreement coyly
noted that "we have seen newspaper reports about an
Sudheer Sharma, "Rolpapachhi dillima jamghat", Nepal,
13 November 2005.
73 Quoted in Bharat Bhushan, op. cit.
74 Ibid.
75 "Maoists ready to disarm under UN supervision: Nepal",
Kantipur Online, 14 November 2005.
76 "Indian spooks host Nepal rebel", The Times of India, 25
May 2005.
77 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu and New Delhi, May-
June 2005.
78 Dr. S. Chandrasekharan, "Nepal: Maoists getting ready for
dialogue with political parties: Update 71", South Asia Analysis
Group, Note no. 269, 20 July 2005, at
understanding between the Maoists and the political
parties in Nepal" but it is unlikely senior officials and
politicians were surprised.79
The Indian government has remained tight-lipped but the
meetings are unlikely to have taken place without official
knowledge. New Delhi was also the location for the first
acknowledged talks and the most recent round involving
the Maoists, NC, UML and Janamorcha. Some
Kathmandu-based leaders believe the talks were delayed
because India had advised the NC to prepare a roadmap.80
Madhav Nepal spent three weeks in India (23 October-12
November 2005), including a visit to Andhra Pradesh
where he discussed the local Maoist situation with the
state's home minister.81 While in New Delhi he announced
a roadmap to cover the basic aspects ofthe transition to a
new system in Nepal.
While India has allowed certain forms of Nepali political
activity on its soil, it lacks a policy consensus. The
differing interests and attitudes ofthe home, defence and
external affairs ministries have sometimes been all too
publicly visible. In general, the home ministry and
security officials have been more hawkish, while the
external affairs ministry has taken a broader view of the
conflict's political context. The roles of other agencies,
including the internal and external intelligence services,
have been the subject of much more speculation but there
are no indications of either a grand conspiracy or a
comprehensive long-term strategy.82 For the time being,
however, India's apparent willingness to play the role of
guarantor has boosted the parties' confidence in a
dialogue which they had previously considered too risky.
Indian involvement - as long as it remains tactful and not
overly self-interested - increases the possibility of an
acceptable compromise. The political parties have always
cultivated Indian goodwill when in government and on
occasion have sought its assistance to gain power. The
Maoists have criticised such behaviour and railed against
Indian expansionism but recognise the need to win New
Delhi over. India's opposition prevents them from seizing
power, and its refusal to grant them legitimacy stymies
their hopes for political progress. While this has heightened
their anti-Indian rhetoric, it has also prompted a more
"In response to a question on the 12-point understanding
between political parties and Maoists in Nepal", Indian Mnistry
of External Affairs statement, New Delhi, 23 November 2005.
80 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, October 2005.
81 "Nepal meets Andhra Pradesh home minister", NewsLine
Nepal, 3 November 2005, at
82 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu and New Delhi, April-
November 2005.
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Page 16
pragmatic reassessment of the need to engage with New
Maoist statements of 2004 and 2005 have consistently
stressed the desire to move forward politically. Since
Indian support for a hard-line military approach had
thwarted their political progress, they will welcome any
change in New Delhi's thinking. As the present dialogue
is the best political entry vehicle they are likely to get,
they have good reason to agree and adhere to a reasonable
agenda. Likewise, the present situation probably offers
India its best opportunity to broker a political solution.
A.    The Delhi Meeting
The UML's October initiatives presaged the most
significant moves since the dialogue began. At the start of
November a flurry of meetings and contacts between the
Maoists and party representatives indicated preparations
for face-to-face discussions. On 16 November Madhav
Nepal, who had only returned to Kathmandu four days
earlier, abruptly set off for India once again. Rumours
were fuelled by the simultaneous New Delhi visits of
Indian ambassador Shiv Mukherjee and U.S. ambassador
James Moriarty. United Nations Department of Political
Affairs envoy Tamrat Samuel and UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights' Nepal office head Ian Martin also
arrived in Delhi on 18 November. However, suspicions
that these outside players were set to join the Maoists and
parties in their face-to-face discussions were unfounded.83
The crucial meeting was held in Delhi on 17 November.
The party participants were Girija Prasad Koirala and
Krishna Sitaula ofthe NC, the UML's Madhav Nepal and
K.P. Oli, Amik Sherchan of Janamorcha and Narayan Kaji
Shrestha (Comrade Prakash) of its underground wing,
Unity Centre-Masai. The Maoists were represented by
their three most powerful leaders - Prachanda, Baburam
Bhattarai and Krishna Bahadur Mahara. The topics
discussed were referred back to the other members ofthe
seven-party alliance for their consideration.84 Apparently
the basic terms agreed in New Delhi were acceptable
to all.
At the table, the Maoists agreed in principle to multiparty
democracy, respect for human rights (including political
freedoms) and eventual disarmament while all parties
agreed to work towards a constituent assembly.85 The
question of restoration of parliament was more problematic
and the difficulty of finding common ground led to it being
deferred. Beyond the items included in the published
agreement, more detailed discussions did take place on
(a) what the program of joint action against "autocratic
monarchy" would entail and (b) the constitution and
mandate of a joint monitoring committee, consisting of
lower-level party and Maoist officials, to meet on a more
regular basis to coordinate action and deal with any
tensions. However, these issues were too complex for
immediate consensus.
83 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu and New Delhi,
November 16-19 2005.
84 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu and New Delhi,
November 2005.
85 Crisis Group interviews, New Delhi, November 18-19 2005.
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Page 17
Participants denied that the Delhi meeting took place, and
for five days they did not comment publicly on the shape
of a possible agreement. When the mainstream parties
and Prachanda issued parallel press statements on 22
November announcing their twelve-point agreement it
was hailed in some quarters as a major breakthrough. The
deal includes some concrete points of consensus which
provide the basis for the peace process:86
□ The monarchy. The parties and Maoists have
reached a firm common view: "We completely
agree that autocratic monarchy is the main hurdle
in (realising) this. It is our clear view that without
establishing absolute democracy by ending
autocratic monarchy, there is no possibility of
peace, progress and prosperity in the country";
□ Ending the conflict. The agreement recognises
that "the country has demanded the establishment
of permanent peace along with a positive solution
to the armed conflict" and both sides commit
themselves to "ending autocratic monarchy and the
existing armed conflict, and establishing permanent
peace in the country". The Maoists make an explicit
commitment "to move along the new peaceful
political stream through this process";
□ Political pluralism. The agreement formalises the
Maoist offer to enter a multiparty political system.
They offer a "public institutional commitment" to
"democratic norms and values like the competitive
multiparty system of governance, civil liberties,
human rights, the concept of the rule of law,
fundamental rights, etc.";
□ Constituent assembly. The agreement specifies
an elected assembly as the accepted forum for all
sides to debate the constitutional revisions that will
shape the new set-up;
□ Accepting past mistakes. The parties and Maoists
both admit to past shortcomings and promise to
improve their behaviour, while reaffirming their
commitment "to fully respect the norms and values
of human rights and press freedom and move ahead
accordingly"; and
□ External help. Both sides call for impartial outside
assistance, led by the United Nations "or any other
reliable international supervision", in supervising
elections and overseeing the cantonment of state
and Maoist forces.
The Maoist-party agreement is reproduced in full in
Appendix B.
While the agreement is certainly a significant development
the document is as notable for what it does not say as for
what it does. Its studiously ambivalent stance on some key
issues, and silence on others, indicates the challenges
that still remain in forging a wider common platform:
□ The preamble mentions "problems related to class,
caste, gender, region, etc. of all sectors including
political, economic, social and cultural" but there is
no indication that any policies to deal with these
problems have been discussed, let alone agreed;
□ The much heralded Maoist offer to "disarm" is not
there in print. The most the Maoists have so far
committed themselves to is the cantonment oftheir
arms, along with those ofthe RNA, during elections
to a constituent assembly and there is no timetable
for permanent decommissioning of weapons.
Nevertheless, Madhav Nepal has insisted that no
joint action with the Maoists will be undertaken
until they have disarmed, a position that seems to
contradict the spirit ofthe agreement;87
□ On the key questions of republicanism, the shape
of future democratic institutions and the means
of getting there - whether via restoration of
parliament or moving straight to an interim
government - the parties and Maoists have only
got as far as agreeing to disagree. The "agreement"
reiterates both sides' mutually incompatible
proposals and promises "continue[d]
find a common understanding".88 However, the
commitment of "ending autocratic monarchy"
holds out the prospect of a Maoist concession on
accepting a limited monarchy;
□ Commitments to human rights and political
pluralism are expressed repeatedly (points 4, 5 and
8 are largely overlapping) but such statements are
nothing new, and there are few extra details on how
they will be put into practice, although the Maoist
offer to return "home, land and property [of other
party activists] seized in an unjust manner" seems
to be a concrete gesture;
"Quit arms for collaboration: Nepal to Maoists", Kantipur
Online, 20 November 2005.
88 The agreement notes the seven parties' insistence that "only
by establishing absolute democracy through the restoration of
the Parliament with the force of agitation" can a peace process
be started while also noting that "[i]t is the view and
commitment of the CPN (Maoist) that the above mentioned
goal can be achieved by holding a national political conference of
the agitating democratic forces, and through its decision, forming
an interim government to hold constituent assembly elections".
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Page 18
□ Both the parties and the Maoists admit to past
mistakes and commit themselves not to repeat such
mistakes again. This admission is important but the
"mistakes" are not specified, and no concrete steps
towards improved behaviour are outlined.
The follow-up actions of both sides may yet address these
gaps and challenges. With their unilateral ceasefire due to
expire on 3 December 2005, the Maoists have a chance
to demonstrate goodwill with an extension, this time
possibly without a time limit. Other substantive issues,
however, can only be dealt with by continued negotiations
and hard bargaining.
D.    The Agenda to Come
The November 2005 agreement thus still leaves many
issues to be discussed and does not do much to clarify
questions of process. The task of formulating an agenda
for further talks would be simpler if the mainstream
parties themselves were clearer about where they stand.
This requires negotiations among themselves as well as
with the Maoists. Reaching a compromise means finding
middle ground that is broad enough to include everyone's
minimum positions on fundamental issues as well as the
right terminology to describe it. For the seven-party
alliance to work this out on its own and then search for
common ground with the Maoists would be simpler than
trying to find everyone's middle ground simultaneously.
The major immediate challenge for the parties is to work
out, at a minimum, a two-phase agenda - the first to deal
with the period up to the achievement of the agreed
minimum objectives, the second to deal with the
basic protocols and modalities for initiating the interim
government. The agenda for the first phase is likely to be
easier to formulate since the second phase involves tricky
issues of administration during the difficult period of
demobilising the Maoist troops and dismantling Maoist
parallel governments.89 In both phases, fundamental
differences of position, outlined below, will need to be
Progress in the negotiations, of course, will depend not
only on each side's objectives but also on how each wants
to move forward. The talks so far - and the public
statements that have emerged from them - have gone
some way towards clarifying the shared goals around
which an agreement could coalesce. Less attention has
been paid to process. The Maoists have been more
consistent in their stated demands and goals but they have
The second phase will be particularly difficult because the
state's structures have been greatly weakened in the Maoists'
rural strongholds.
not indicated how they envisage achieving them and how
the process of engagement with the parties can minimise
the risks of renewed conflict.
1. Republic or "full democracy"?
The UML has moved to support republican democracy
but has also left room for those unwilling to join an openly
republican platform. According to Madhav Nepal, "the
only choice before the people is ceremonial monarchy
with the army under the executive and parliament being
supreme, or a republic. Our party has decided that we
are for a democratic republic".90 This to some extent
addresses the problem faced by the NC. Girija Prasad
Koirala has expressed contradictory opinions, hoping
perhaps to be all things to all wings of his party.
Nevertheless, his loose formulation of "full democracy"
is a potential compromise. Prachanda responded by
welcoming the mainstream parties shift in stance -
noting in particular that the UML's revised democratic
republican policy offered an "even stronger political
basis for cooperation"91- but still calling for a positive
commitment to a constituent assembly.
"Full democracy" may be a flexible enough term to gain
broad acceptance and it is this formulation that is used to
describe the seven-party position in the November
agreement with the Maoists. For Koirala, it appears to
mean less than republicanism; for others it includes
republicanism. Since all participants in the talks have
agreed to a constituent assembly, the democratic method
of settling the question would be to debate and vote on it
in that forum. Ifthe anti-monarchists feel reasonably
confident of victory, they could find a way of ensuring
that pro-monarchy democrats in the NC do not rebel
against Koirala if he has to join the republicans. "Full
democracy" would likely encompass a range of meanings
- not more than a multiparty republic and not less than a
constituent assembly. If this can be managed, the talks
can move to other issues.
2. Restoration of parliament
Another persistent problem is the demand for the
restoration of parliament, to which the Maoists are
vehemently opposed. Ifthe sole aim ofthe restoration is
to help in the formation of an interim government, there
is good reason for the Maoists' opposition, since they
would have no representation in the restored house. In
90 Quoted in Bharat Bhushan, op. cit. The UML faces a further
internal debate over whether its concept of multiparty people's
democracy (bahudaliya janvad) can be reconciled with the aim
of a democratic republic (loktantrik ganatantra) that has gained
currency among activists across the democratic mainstream.
91 Press statement, 3 September 2005.
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Page 19
Madhav Nepal's view, "either the platform of a restored
parliament or an all-party conference could be used
to form an interim government that would have full
executive and legislative powers. The 1990 constitution
could be adopted with some modifications as an interim
option until a new statute was framed".92
The UML's suggestion of an all-party conference could
be a way out, especially as not all seven parties are
strongly committed to the restoration demand. Another
option would be to revive the house for a limited period
for the specific purpose of amending the provisions that
by mutual consent are the most undesirable. Once this
was done, the house could dissolve itself and the interim
government could proceed with the second phase of
transition to a new arrangement under the amended
constitution. Political acceptability and practical feasibility
would make a strong case to overcome narrow legal
objections.93 There is no reason to hold up an agreement
on the largely procedural issue of parliament restoration
other than to buy time.
Here again, the wording ofthe agreement skirts the issue:
the parties' continued call for parliamentary restoration is
acknowledged but Maoist opposition - and preference to
move directly to an interim government - is also stated.
3.       Other sticking points
If talks proceed beyond these two threshold issues, the
negotiation of other parts ofthe Maoist agenda will throw
up fresh challenges. Some ofthe more significant include:
□ Land reform. Maoist plans for significant land
reform have widespread support, including from
mainstream politicians. But radical redistribution
would probably upset key party activists: many of
the major parties' local and district leaders are
from relatively prosperous small to medium
landholding backgrounds and might find their
interests threatened.
□ Ethnic, caste and gender issues. Here, too, the
Maoist agenda has forced broader recognition of
systemic social and economic inequality and
mainstream commitments in principle to act. But
the parties always avoided these issues when in
office, and their relatively conservative leaderships
will find it hard to reach a consensus.
□ Institutions and elections. The Maoists envisage
a thorough restructuring ofthe state from its central
92 Quoted in Bharat Bhushan, op. cit.
93 The political and legal ramifications of such a scenario are
discussed in Crisis Group Report, The Constitutional Issues,
op. cit.
organs to the local level. Mainstream parties have
recognised the need for some changes but will
hesitate to endorse dramatic reconfiguration. The
Maoist push for regional autonomy will, therefore,
present a thorny issue. So too will the question of
electoral systems, with some parties preferring to
retain first-past-the-post and others pushing for
proportional representation or other methods.
□ Economic policy. The Maoists appear to prefer a
mixed economy rather than a pure Stalinist-style
command version.94 Such models were tried in
various non-communist, decolonised countries
after 1945 but the major mainstream parties,
whatever their ideological background, have
largely endorsed more liberal policies. They would
find it difficult to accept Maoist programs such as
nationalisation, especially in the face of likely
international disapproval.
Certain issues can be reserved for discussion at a later
stage. If there is agreement on a constituent assembly, it
would become the logical forum for elected representatives
to debate the shape of state institutions, affirmative action
on inequality and similar topics. But the process of election
to such an assembly would be hotly debated in its own
right and could not be deferred. On other parts oftheir
agenda, the Maoists may feel the need to assure their
cadres that action will be taken but the parties may find
it impossible to agree to specific policies. Deciding which
issues the two sides can agree to disagree on will not be
4.       Monitoring methods
Any agreement will have to be monitored under a mutually
acceptable but effective mechanism. The parties and
Maoists may be able to develop a code of conduct but
monitoring would require third party involvement. As the
party-Maoist dialogue is effectively an act of opposition
to the royal government, monitoring an agreement would
be politically sensitive. Beyond the silent and relatively
passive role that India is playing - and which no other
state is in a position to play - international assistance is
hard to envisage. Without palace buy-in to a broader peace
process, there will no doubt be attempts to undermine
prospects of a bilateral deal. The November agreement
states that "[a]n understanding has been reached to settle
any problem emerging between the parties through
peaceful dialogue at the concerned level or at the
leadership level". However, such a mechanism - even if it
has been thought out more thoroughly than its brief public
mention implies - is unlikely to be sufficient in itself.
See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Maoists, op. cit.
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Page 20
The seven-party alliance has already suggested forming a
team of eminent persons to verify Maoist adherence to the
preconditions for talks.95 An expanded non-partisan team
appointed by consensus could assume a broader role but
serious difficulties loom. The composition, logistics and
authority of such a team are all potentially controversial.
Civil society figures agreeing to participate would take
personal and political risks. Nevertheless, despite being
one of the most sensitive and complex topics for
negotiation, a monitoring mechanism is one of the most
pressing. If it is not agreed at an early stage, the two sides
could easily fall out in the course of any joint activities.
The strength, creativity and determination of Nepal's civil
society may be put to the test. The question of external
mediation or facilitation - viewed by many diplomats as a
prerequisite if talks are not to founder as before - has
been left open.
Assuming the king is not forced into immediate
acquiescence, the parties and Maoists will likely engage
in a program of joint action. The form this would take is
not clear. The thrust of such action would be political but
it would be reasonable to infer that the Maoists would
back the campaign with military force. This might be
limited to offering a protective shield to agitation in the
districts or could be extended to complementary offensive
action. In either case, the risk of resumed, even intensified
conflict is real, as is the possibility that non-violent party
political workers may choose not to participate in a
movement with an implicit armed wing.
5.       Can they compromise?
The mainstream parties and the Maoists are struggling,
in effect, to build an alliance that spans almost the entire
ideological spectrum. Such an effort is bound to run into
difficulties. The vision and democratic commitment of
both sides will be severely tested. An agreement offers
the scope for ending the ten year old conflict but the
price of compromise could be high for both sides.
Within the parties there is already some potential for
bridging divides. The UML and the Janamorcha occupy
the middle ground, with the former having interests closer
to those ofthe NC and the latter leaning more towards
the Maoists. These two could play a mediating role in
persuading the NC to make concessions. At the same time,
they have most to fear in electoral terms if the Maoists
join the mainstream so will be careful about giving away
too much. Unfortunately for the mainstream parties, the
search for compromises is likely to expose their own
mutual distrust. Managing this will be crucial, especially
ifthe Maoists maintain their own unity.
Where next?
Even if the Maoists and the parties overcome their
differences and form a loose alliance, what will they then
do and where will it lead? They may agree to a constituent
assembly as a route to peace but the king and army are
unlikely to come on board. A united party-Maoist
combination would still face the challenge of pressuring
the palace into a reasonable compromise or pushing all
out for an end to the monarchy. In either case it is hard
to envisage the RNA remaining a silent spectator.
"Civil society mediation possible", The Kathmandu Post,
22 August 2005.
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Page 21
Other forces, within Nepal and beyond, will have an
important part in shaping the future of party-Maoist
dialogue. Talks could not have proceeded this far without
India's tacit approval. However, the U.S. has repeatedly
and forcefully expressed its opposition. The parties face a
difficult choice: they cannot satisfy both India's unstated
preference and the U.S.'s stated preference, nor can they
easily compromise between them. Since New Delhi's
influence in Nepal far exceeds that of Washington, the
talks may proceed further. But compared to India's opaque
approach, American diplomats have made a clear and
consistent case. Other international forces - assuming
China's stated interest in assisting both India and Nepal
to eradicate Maoism is not translated into much more
concrete action96 - have less influence and also less
strategic interest in the country.
Within Nepal, pro-palace politicians and commentators
have led criticism ofthe dialogue, although the major
royalist parties have been circumspect in their public
comments, clearly not wishing to distance themselves too
far from the potential new party-Maoist alliance. Others
who are excluded from the talks process - civil society,
journalists and lawyers and the like - have been more
vocally, though far from unanimously, supportive of the
effort to find some common ground. Initial reactions to
the November agreement have been divided along similar
The first official statement came from the information
minister, Tanka Dhakal, who promised that the government
would take time to study the agreement but also warned
that it was the product of foreign intervention.97 He
further cautioned that any understanding would have to be
"in favour ofthe king's 1 February move".98 His complaint
about external interference was echoed by Foreign Minister
Ramesh Nath Pandey, who said that steps towards peace
were welcome but that if they came at the urging of
The Chinese ambassador raised hackles in New Delhi when
he stated: "If there is any help [you expect] from us to India to
get rid of [your own Maoists], we will try to do our best". The
Times of India, 26 October 2005. Chinese military aid to Nepal
- though relatively small at around $1 million - has discomfited
some U. S. and Indian officials and independent analysts.
97 '"Foreigners' behind the party-Maoist understanding:
Dhakal",, 23 November 2005.
98 "Parties-Maoist pact unnatural, at behest of foreigners:
Ministers", The Kathmandu Post, 24 November 2005.
outsiders it could not be in Nepal's best interests.99
Another minister dismissed the agreement as "like an ant
biting an elephant".100 Once the government had
considered what line to take, Tanka Dhakal firmly
rejected the option of a constituent assembly and insisted
that municipal and general elections would be held
in line with the king's directives. He also hinted at
the government's uncompromising mood by referring to
the Maoists as terrorists.101
B.    The Case Against Dialogue
Various domestic forces, with different motivations,
were opposed to the party-Maoist dialogue from the
outset and have reacted negatively to the November
agreement. These include pro-palace groups such as the
RPP, the Rashtriya Janashakti Party and the NSP and
also individuals within the Nepali Congress, UML and
NC (D). They tried to influence public opinion against
talks but there was little they could do directly to stymie
progress in the absence of a more concerted palace
scheme. International players, in particular the U.S.,
perhaps have had more influence.102 But those who
argued against talks are now rethinking their options in
the light of more rapid progress than they had expected.
Sections ofthe Kathmandu elite are concerned that the
parties may grant the Maoists too many concessions on
fundamental issues of state and economic restructuring.
Others may not object to reform per se but remain
suspicious of Maoist intentions and unconvinced that they
will give up the goal of a one-party dictatorship. Those
among the intelligentsia who oppose a politically active
monarchy but fear the Maoists - a sizeable constituency -
face a dilemma, since they are aware that the parties on
their own cannot force the palace to back down. They
have not been able to propose a serious alternative to
dealing with the Maoists, particularly since diplomatic
and economic pressures have yet to move the king.
The proposal for a ceremonial monarchy was an attempt
to find a middle way between a monarchical system and a
republic that could unite parties and palace against the
Maoists. But this has been blocked by the palace's refusal
to contemplate a ceremonial role, or indeed any reduction
of influence. Some respected analysts have argued that a
"Dal-maobadi samjhautaprati sarkar gambhir", Kantipur,
24 November 2005.
100 "Only an ant bite: Minister", People's News, 22 November
101 "Govt rejects constituent assembly; insists on holding
election",, 25 November 2005.
102 For international players and interests, see Crisis Group
Briefing, Beyond Royal Rule, op. cit.
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ceremonial monarchy is in any case impossible. "The
Hindu king in Nepal either will stay absolute or there will
be a republic", says U.S.-based commentator Chitra
Tiwari. "There is no middle way".103 Nevertheless, the
concept of ceremonial monarchy - however impractical -
will tempt the parties not to align with the Maoist demand
for a republic.
The palace and the RNA are hostile to talks that could
herald a polarisation that would jeopardise their power.
Though the palace has not offered the parties anything
concrete, the king and some ministers have invited them
for conversation.104 The royalist political parties remain
loyal to the monarchy at heart, even if their leaders are
sincerely worried that the king's actions have put the
institution at risk. The interests they represent have lost
the hold on political institutions they had under the
monarchical Panchayat system of 1962-1990. Their
criticism ofthe February coup has been measured and is
at least partially attributable to the fact that the new
government has not accommodated them. They are
aware that the party-Maoist convergence may isolate
them even as the king withholds favours. Since they are
structurally unable to embrace radical reforms, and it is
unlikely the Maoists would accept them, their dismay at
the talks and the November deal is logical.
The most significant and consistent opposition has come
from Washington. While critical ofthe palace, it has
repeatedly urged the political parties to cooperate with the
king. The parliamentary parties are well aware ofthe risks
of dealing with the Maoists but they are no longer so ready
to play a subordinate role of facilitating a palace-led
military campaign. As the party-Maoist dialogue gathered
pace, the U.S. embassy stated that it "notes with alarm
recent reports [in] Nepal media on the emerging potential
for an 'alliance' between one or more ofthe major political
parties and the Maoist rebels".105 This was forcefully
reiterated by the U.S. ambassador in interviews as he
visited eastern and western districts of Nepal,106 although
American reaction to the November agreement - discussed
below - has been more measured.
Support for the agreement has come from various quarters,
most notably peace activists, professionals such as
lawyers and journalists, and various civil society groups.
Nepal's largest selling English daily newspaper hailed
the "groundbreaking agreement" as "an unprecedented
and remarkable effort to establish a lasting peace" and
praised the parties' and Maoists' "political acumen".107
Organisations such as the Professional Alliance for Peace
and Democracy (PAPAD), Federation of Nepalese
Journalists (FNJ), Tribhuvan University Teachers'
Association, Citizen's Solidarity for Peace, Nepal Press
Union, Human Rights and Peace Society and Nepal
Student Forum were quick to welcome the accord.108
U.S.-based Nepali organisations gave a similar response.109
Civil society does not have much direct power but even
the Maoists have acknowledged the role played by
influential individuals like Devendra Raj Pandey.110 In
August the seven-party alliance declared that it would
seek the support of civil society for the talks, and the
November agreement calls on "civil society, professional
organizations, various wings of parties, people of all
communities and regions, press and intellectuals" to
support a joint movement.
Now that the talks have made progress, calculations will
change. Even the royalist parties could adjust their carefully
modulated criticism ofthe palace so as not to alienate a
potentially powerful new alliance. Hints of acceptance
had already come from surprising quarters, perhaps
in anticipation of a deal. Retired Chief of Army Staff
General Sachchit Shamsher Rana, a staunch supporter of
the king's February move who had warned that talking to
the Maoists was "anti-national" and could lead to the
parties being banned,111 said in late October 2005 that
the dialogue was not only acceptable but could even be
helpful.112 Nevertheless, when the November agreement
was announced, he reverted to his former position, warning
that ifthe parties collaborate with 'terrorists', the state could
take legal action against them. He termed the alliance
Chitra Tiwari, "Red star over the Himalayas", Current
History, September 2005, p. 296.
104 "Government ready for talks with parties: Dr Giri",, 3 October 2005.
105 "Embassy warns against Maoists-parties 'alliance'",
U.S. embassy press release, 4 November 2005, available at
106 For example, a report from Dhankuta noted that "[t]he U.S.
Ambassador also wanted to know about any collaboration
between the district-level Maoists and the political parties" and
reiterated that the palace and parties should unite. "U.S. envoy
at Dhankuta Appellate Court", Kantipur Online, 10 November
"Unprecedented", The Kathmandu Post editorial, 24
November 2005.
108 "Parties-Maoist pact unnatural, at behest of foreigners:
Ministers", The Kathmandu Post, 24 November 2005.
109 "Nepalis in the US welcome Parties-Maoist agreement",, 25 November 2005.
110 "Interview with Comrade Prachanda", op. cit.
111 "Seven parties should be labelled anti-national: Rana",
KantipurOnline, 3 July 2005.
112 '"Dialogue initiative with Maoists legitimate'", The
Kathmandu Post, 26 October 2005.
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
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Page 23
"unnatural" and declared it was a plot by "foreign self-
interest" to "bring Nepal to its knees".113
The U.S. has also moderated its language and offered
a more nuanced view on the talks and agreement than
earlier statements had implied. Ambassador Moriarty
clarified that Washington was not opposed to talks but an
alliance would be irresponsible.114 On a two-day visit to
New Delhi that coincided with the party-Maoist talks that
led to the agreement he explained to Indian foreign
secretary Shyam Saran that "the United States welcomes
attempts by Nepal's political parties to convince the
insurgents to rejoin the political mainstream".115 However,
he pointed out that "the political parties have publicly
ruled out any formal relationship with the insurgents,
unless and until the Maoists firmly renounce violence,
put down their weapons, and commit to supporting
the democratic process".116 Once the agreement was
announced, an American spokesman "cautiously
welcomed the new political understanding reached
between mainstream parties and Maoists".117
India's reaction was also understandably guarded. A
foreign ministry statement noted that "as Nepal's close
and friendly neighbour, [India] hopes that conditions of
peace and stability and economic development will soon
be restored in the country with the sincere efforts and
contributions of all concerned".118 It also implicitly
reiterated its opposition to an external role in any future
facilitation or mediation, stating that "all outstanding
issues ought to be resolved through the efforts ofthe
people of Nepal themselves and that the role of
international community should be limited to support
these efforts".119
Others have been studiously non-committal, careful not to
bum bridges. Following India's dropping of its endorsement
of the "twin pillars" of multiparty democracy and
constitutional monarchy in its public statements,120 the
European Union troika that visited in early October was
similarly silent about the monarchy while implying that
the king's municipal elections were unwise.121 Some
European diplomats privately view the Maoist-party
dialogue as potentially positive but are happy that only
India has to get its hands dirty assisting it.122
The European Union and other donors - probably with
the exception of China and Japan, whose policy of "nonintervention" is based on longstanding sympathy for the
palace - are likely to offer cautious endorsement in terms
similar to those of India and the U.S. A meeting of major
donors that took place in London on 18 November noted
that "peace is a prerequisite for progress towards
development" and called for "all actors to commit
to a durable ceasefire as a first step to a wider peace
process".123 The meeting also reaffirmed "the willingness
of donors to provide support to a democratic and
inclusive peace process". United Nations Secretary-
General Kofi Annan has recognised the progress made in
the November agreement but has called for an extended
ceasefire, while reaffirming his willingness to use his
good offices to assist any peace process.124
Ofthe mood among Nepal's citizens - so often ignored
by all political players - nothing can be said with
certainty. Reports of widespread disappointment that
the government chose not to reciprocate the Maoists'
unilateral ceasefire seem plausible even if they cannot
be verified by polling. Sentiment at the time of the
government-Maoist talks in 2003 seemed to be firmly for
dialogue if it could lead to peace. In the absence of any
convincing evidence to the contrary, it is probably safe to
assume that most Nepalis will welcome the agreement if
it reflects a genuine commitment to finding a way out of
the conflict.
"Dal atankkarika matiyar", Kanitpur, 24 November 2005.
114 "Ambassador Moriarty said that Washington had no
objection to political parties talking to the Maoists but their
return to the political mainstream was contingent on them
giving up violence". "Maoists tie up with political parties to
cut the King to size", The Indian Express, 19 November 2005.
115 "U.S. ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty's statement
to media in New Delhi", American Embassy News Advisory,
Kathmandu, 17 November 2005.
116 Ibid.
117 "US, India welcome new political development", The
Kathmandu Post, 24 November 2005.
118 "In response to a question on the 12-point understanding
between political parties and Maoists in Nepal", Indian Ministry
of External Affairs statement, New Delhi, 23 November 2005.
119 Ibid.
120 See Crisis Group Briefing, Beyond Royal Rule, op. cit.
"Nepal: Visit by a Troika of EU Regional Directors, 4-6
October 2005", at
122 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, Delhi and western
Europe, September-October 2005.
123 "Meeting of a group of Nepal's development donors", UK
Department for International Development press statement, 23
November 2005, at
donors-group-nov-05 .asp.
124 "UN chief welcomes Nepal accord", BBC News, 24
November 2005.
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Page 24
Nepal's politics are in a near stalemate that can be
overcome only through a recombination of forces. The
first step is a new polarisation of forces - a process the
November agreement appears to advance considerably.
However, polarisation alone will not be sufficient to
generate a decisive shift. Ifthe current equilibrium is to be
transformed into a more dynamic asymmetry between the
two strongest forces - the palace and the Maoists - the
type of polarisation is equally important.125 Each of these
forces is likely to preserve their internal unity for the
foreseeable future. The seven-party alliance that occupies
the middle ground could tip the balance if it retains unity
while allying with one or the other side. This, however,
is unlikely unless the middle ground leaders prove
exceptionally skilled in managing internal tensions and
conflicting interests.
If the Maoists want to increase their leverage through
joint action, it is in their interest that the parties remain
united. In contrast, as long as the palace sees the parties as
dispensable, it will attempt to divide them. Since the king
cannot accommodate too many allies in top positions, it is
in his interest to win over a few influential leaders. Any
voluntary movement to his side without expectation of
benefit would be a bonus. At the same time, he will be
interested in winning over a larger number of supporters
from the lower levels of the parties, who can be
institutionally accommodated in municipal or other lower
level bodies.
Through such junior functionaries and their urban base,
he can hope to cultivate support for the monarchy among
the lower middle class, perhaps the numerically most
significant segment of Kathmandu and other towns. By
doing this, he may expect to induce splits within and
between the two main parliamentary parties. Unlike the
Maoists, the king will want to inflict as much damage on
the political parties as possible.
This factor will weigh heavily with the seven-party
alliance, since such a division occurred in 2002, when the
palace won over a significant part ofthe NC and so tilted
the balance between king and parties in its favour. In the
current state of uncertainty, the risk of further division
inhibits a more decisive response from the top-heavy NC
- the party that would lose the most if it could not bring
most of its leaders into the anti-royalist camp. The UML
may not face the same problem at the top but lower-level
urban leaders may be open to inducements.
Since trust has become a dominant factor in party thinking,
and individual interests have become more important than
party interests, there is uncertainty about the fault
lines along which the mainstream polity might divide.
Powerful politicians' motivations vary according to their
calculations of risks and benefits as well as assumptions
about the motivations of others. This spreads greater
uncertainty throughout the middle ground.
Regardless ofthe November agreement with the Maoists,
which calls for an active boycott, the king's announcement
of municipal elections on 8 February 2006 presents a
crucial test for political parties. If positive results from the
party-Maoist deal and further dialogue do not materialise
quickly, some politicians could be tempted to participate.
Leaders might decide to deputise loyal lower-level officials
to contest the elections as independents so as to keep
options open. Such functionaries might even participate in
defiance of party orders. That would weaken the parties
further and reduce the leaders' leverage in talks with the
Repeated U.S. appeals to the parties to work with the king
may encourage some leaders to stall the talks until all hope
of reconciliation with the palace is definitively ruled
out. Reactions to Ambassador Moriarty's pre-alliance
statement126 provide some indication of individual but not
party tftinking. For example, Bamdev Gautam ofthe UML
and Narahari Acharya of the NC were dismissive of
his suggestion, while Ram Sharan Mahat of the NC
and Gopal Man Shrestha ofthe NC(D) welcomed it. There
is still a high chance that parties, segments of parties or
individual members may align themselves with the king.
But this depends primarily on whether the palace is willing
to change course to entice them. Equally, the chances of
the parties remaining intact if they ally with the Maoists
are low.
Theoretically, a Maoist-palace alliance against the democratic
mainstream would be possible. Close links between the two
earlier in the conflict have made such a possibility a staple
ofthe Kathmandu rumour-mill. However, while rural Maoist
dominance certainly complements urban royal repression ofthe
parties, an open palace-Maoist combination would be politically
problematic, especially for a king who has justified his takeover
on grounds of fighting terrorism.
"U.S. expresses concern over Maoists-parties 'alliance'",
Kantipur Online, 4 November 2005.
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Page 25
C.    Decision Time for the Parties
In the run-up to November 2005, the parties faced three
immediate problems. To pre-empt any major division
between the leaders and rank and file members over the
municipal polls, they needed to finalise a deal with the
Maoists as early as possible and restart their agitation,
possibly jointly. At the same time, however, pushing
through an alliance fast increased the risk of division
between different factions. And while dealing with this
dilemma, they will also wish to pursue the traditional
strategy of applying pressure on the king to offer a
compromise attractive enough to obviate the need for an
alliance with the Maoists. However firm the November
deal appears to be, the next rounds of talks between such
indecisive parties and the Maoists could lead to several
In order to preserve internal unity, the leaders responsible
for the negotiations still have to win over influential
dissidents within their own parties by demonstrating that
the initial agenda is broad enough to satisfy a wide variety
of interests. They must also persuade the anti-Maoist
sections in their camp that the Maoists can be trusted, and
the alliance can achieve their objectives. The palace has
been a significant player in Nepali politics for so long that
it retains influence over many party leaders regardless of
its behaviour. Ifthe parties actively align with the Maoists,
tipping the balance more decisively in favour of anti-palace
forces, some conservatives will feel uneasy. If they cannot
maintain complete unity, the parties can still pursue joint
action with the Maoists, but at the cost of internal splits.
In all these areas the NC is the most vulnerable party. It
has plenty of leaders but little institutional coherence
and discipline. This is why it may prefer to use talks to
win concessions from the king. Since the Maoists have
conceded its major demands, the NC may have insisted
on parliamentary restoration in order to stall the talks
without abandoning them, buying time while keeping
options open. Koirala has voiced contradictory opinions,
sacrificing consistency to prevent members breaking
ranks.127 By playing for time, the party may also be
hoping to extract greater concessions from the Maoists
but the current agenda is so limited that these are hard to
envisage, at least at this early stage.
Since talks have already made some concrete progress,
and there is no sign from the palace that an offer is
forthcoming, the party will have to decide which course
to pursue. Ofthe two issues on which problems have
127 Ofthe other parties, the smaller Unity Centre could face a
split because of the uncompromising hostility to the Maoists
of its leader, Mohan Bikram Singh, but there are no firm
signs of such a division yet.
arisen, republicanism can be resolved within the
framework of talks held so far. Ifthe party continues
to insist on restoration of parliament, either the Maoists
will have to give in or the talks will have to go on without
the NC. Ifthe Maoists give in, the NC will have no other
issue on which to stall. Ifthe Maoists do not give in, the
other parties will have to broker a compromise. Ifthe
NC eventually settles for alignment with the Maoists,
some of its leaders will leave, and the priority will be
damage control to ensure defections are not on the same
scale as in 2002.
Ifthe NC either pulls out ofthe talks or continues to
equivocate, the other parties could decide to formulate an
agenda in order to pressure it. Ifthe vague commitment of
the November agreement is translated into a successful
joint anti-palace agitation, the NC will be compelled
to participate but without being able to bargain for
concessions on the agenda. Such a course currently seems
unlikely but the political equations are delicately poised
and a number of outcomes are possible. They include
the complete breakdown of talks and a return to the old
Kathmandu deadlock. As always, such a breakdown
would make the process of mutual confidence-building
and resumption all the harder.
D.    The King's Cards
The palace's policy of deliberately provoking mutually
antagonistic forces to unite against it seems hard to
explain. However, the king still has cards to play. He and
his advisers probably believe they can still derail the
party-Maoist talks. Many individual politicians and party
leaders have demonstrated that their professed opposition
to Gyanendra's ambitions can be overcome by offices and
other incentives. Since late 2001, the parliamentary parties
have periodically worked against each other to the benefit
of both the palace and the Maoists. The king's policy is
no doubt informed by this history of inter- and intra-party
strife and a shrewd understanding of the potentially
divisive issues that could undercut progress towards
an agreement.
The palace has in the past successfully intervened to split
the parties when they have shown signs of forging a
dangerous unity. Now that the king has embarked on his
project of rebuilding monarchical rule, the stakes are
higher, and he has more to lose. It is likely, therefore, that
he will exhaust other options before making any substantive
compromise. Were he to offer concessions, they are not
likely to be of a kind that would undermine the palace's
political role. However, he is gambling. The institution of
monarchy has lost its sheen under Gyanendra. Mistrust
between parties and king has grown to such an extent that
those with long-term interests to consider may find it
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 26
beneficial to compromise with the Maoists rather than
with the king.
Under a combination of domestic and international
pressure, the king may yet relent. The price for him might
be high - restoring parliament, democratising the RNA or
renouncing extraordinary constitutional powers - but
the parties' rationale for talks with the Maoists would
disappear. The question would then be whether all-out
conflict would resume or a new all-party government
backed by a restored parliament would talk with the
Maoists and manage to bring them into the mainstream.
This is the least likely option: even ifthe king were to
agree, the RNA would probably resist. For now, the most
likely scenario is that talks will continue and some kind of
agreement will be reached between the majority ofthe
parliamentary parties and the Maoists.
Although the November agreement is a large step
forward, the ultimate outcome of the party-Maoist talks
still cannot be predicted. Apart from the internal dynamics
that the next stages of negotiations depend on, external
factors could change matters. The parties and the Maoists
do indeed have a good opportunity to shape a viable peace
process. They have already addressed fundamental
disagreements more convincingly, and with more chance
of a viable compromise, than in previous talks. But
negotiations are at an early stage and face many obstacles.
The announced agreement represents only the start of a
new phase. The palace and the army have been unwilling
to reciprocate the Maoist ceasefire, let alone enter into
substantive dialogue. The party-Maoist deal may tempt
some royalists to talk but could also provoke a more severe
backlash. As long as the king chooses not to come to the
table - or is excluded from it - the potential for further
confrontation remains. While a fully united party-Maoist
front could perhaps force the palace's hand, a less decisive
outcome, which could spark renewed conflict, is more
For now, the parties are more receptive to the Maoists'
overtures. If the insurgency were to be defeated by
the palace and the army, with the parties' passive
endorsement, it would in all likelihood strengthen the
former. Negotiating with the rebels carries risks but
India's quiet backing has reduced mainstream leaders'
apprehensions. Negotiation also offers the best chance
of tackling the Maoists politically, with a solid critique
of specific aspects oftheir agenda and concrete policies
to address other aspects.
The Maoists have probably been the most successful
opposition party in Nepal's history, reshaping the national
agenda and forcing others to confront long ignored issues.
But this is easier than providing viable and acceptable
policy options. Many oftheir proposed solutions, such as
ethnic autonomy, are controversial or unworkable. Strong
critiques of ill-considered proposals accompanied by
better alternatives could tip the balance when it comes
to tough bargaining. The parties could dissect Maoist
policies and rethink solutions to commonly accepted
problems while using the Maoists' need for allies as
powerful leverage. Without such approaches, they will
have difficulty neutralising the rebels' strategic and
organisational superiority.
Apart from the palace and its allies, there are three
significant constituencies whose attitudes and actions could
influence developments. The international community has
always had trouble putting pressure on the Maoists and
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005 Page 2 7
now encounters similar problems with the king. Offering
strong support to the democratic centre in searching for
new ways forward, without pretending that solutions
can be imposed from outside, seems a sensible option.
Regardless of China's creeping involvement and the
interests of other big players, India will remain dominant.
If it is convinced the parties should deal with the Maoists,
the talks will likely continue.
Civil society, despite the bold efforts of journalists,
lawyers and others to resist extremism from both sides,
has never had decisive influence. With neither arms nor
organisational backing this is not surprising. But events
since February 2005 have placed civil society leaders in
a more prominent position, and many have responded to
the challenge. Ifthe parties and the Maoists are serious
about reaching an agreement on democratic principles,
civil society will be asked to smooth the path to
legitimacy and to take risks in monitoring any deal.
The people of Nepal at large are still, as always, the
last to have a say. Surveys and anecdotal evidence have
consistently indicated that the silent majority is desperate
for peace. Ifthe November agreement leads to a permanent
Maoist ceasefire, negotiations over constitutional change
and disarmament, most citizens are likely to welcome
it. This would probably include most of those in the state
security forces, who have never revelled in fighting a
counter-insurgency. The king's refusal to reciprocate the
Maoists' unilateral ceasefire may prove his most costly
error of judgement. But it is for the parties and Maoists to
demonstrate that they are capable of building peace.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 28 November 2005
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 28
Base 801532 (B0O75O) 6-90
Courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 29
The long struggle between absolute monarchy and
democracy in Nepal has now reached a very grave and
new turn. Establishing peace by resolving the 10-year old
armed conflict through a forward-looking political outlet
has become the need of today. Therefore, implementing
the concept of absolute democracy through a forward-
looking restmcturing ofthe state has become an inevitable
need to solve the problems related to class, caste, gender,
region etc. of all sectors including political, economic,
social and cultural, bringing autocratic monarchy to an
end and establishing absolute democracy. We make
public that, against this existing backdrop and reference in
the country, the following understanding has been reached
between the seven parliamentary parties and the CPN
(Maoist) through different methods of talks.
Points of Understanding:
1. Today, democracy, peace, prosperity, social
advancement and a free and sovereign Nepal is
the chief wish of all Nepalese. We completely
agree that autocratic monarchy is the main hurdle
in (realising) this. It is our clear view that without
establishing absolute democracy by ending
autocratic monarchy, there is no possibility of
peace, progress and prosperity in the country.
Therefore, an understanding has been reached to
establish absolute democracy by ending autocratic
monarchy, with all forces against the autocratic
monarchy centralizing their assault against
autocratic monarchy from their respective positions,
thereby creating a nationwide storm of democratic
2. The seven agitating parties are fully committed
to the fact that only by establishing absolute
democracy through the restoration ofthe Parliament
with the force of agitation, forming an all-party
government with complete authority, holding
elections to a constituent assembly through
dialogue and understanding with the Maoists, can
the existing conflict in the country be resolved and
sovereignty and state power completely transferred
to the people. It is the view and commitment ofthe
CPN (Maoist) that the above mentioned goal
can be achieved by holding a national political
conference ofthe agitating democratic forces, and
through its decision, forming an interim government
to hold constituent assembly elections. An
understanding has been reached between the
agitating seven parties and the CPN (Maoist) to
continue dialogue on this procedural work-list and
find a common understanding. It has been agreed
that the force of people's movement is the only
alternative to achieve this.
Today, the country has demanded the establishment
of permanent peace along with a positive solution
to the armed conflict. Therefore, we are committed
to ending autocratic monarchy and the existing
armed conflict, and establishing permanent peace
in the country through constituent assembly
elections and forward-looking political outlet. The
CPN (Maoist) expresses its commitment to move
along the new peaceful political stream through
this process. In this very context, an understanding
has been reached to keep, during the holding
of constituent assembly elections after ending
autocratic monarchy, the armed Maoist force and
the royal army under the supervision ofthe United
Nations or any other reliable international
supervision, to conclude the elections in a free and
fair manner and accept the result ofthe elections.
We expect reliable international mediation even
during the dialogue process.
Expressing clearly and making public institutional
commitment to the democratic norms and values
like the competitive multiparty system of
governance, civil liberties, human rights, the
concept ofthe rule of law, fundamental rights etc,
the CPN (Maoist) has expressed commitment to
move forward its activities accordingly.
The CPN (Maoist) has expressed its commitment
to create an environment allowing the political
activists of other democratic parties displaced
during the course ofthe armed conflict to return to
their former localities and live there with dignity,
return their home, land and property seized in an
unjust manner and carry out their activities without
let or hindrance.
Undertaking self criticism and self evaluation of
past mistakes, the CPN (Maoist) has expressed
commitment not to repeat such mistakes in future.
The seven political parties, undertaking self
evaluation, have expressed commitment not to
repeat the mistakes of the past which were
committed while in parliament and in government.
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005 Page 30
8. In the context of moving the peace process
forward, commitment has been expressed to fully
respect the norms and values of human rights and
press freedom and move ahead accordingly.
9. As the announcement of municipal polls pushed
forward with the ill-motive of deluding the people
and the international community and giving
continuity to the autocratic and illegitimate rule of
the King, and the talk of elections to Parliament
are a crafty ploy, we announce to actively boycott
them and call upon the general public to make
such elections a failure.
10. The people and their representative political parties
are the real guardians of nationality. Therefore, we
are firmly committed to protecting the independence,
sovereignty, geographical integrity ofthe country
and national unity. Based on the principle of
peaceful co-existence, it is our common obligation
to maintain friendly relations with all countries of
the world and good-neighbour relationship with
neighbouring countries, especially India and China.
But we request the patriotic masses to be cautious
against the false attempt by the King and (his)
loyalists to prolong his autocratic and illegitimate
rule and delude the patriotic people by projecting
the illusory "Mandale" nationalism and questioning
the patriotism ofthe political parties, and appeal
to the international powers and the people to
support, in every possible way, the democratic
movement against autocratic monarchy in Nepal.
11. We call upon the civil society, professional
organizations, various wings of parties, people of
all communities and regions, press and intellectuals
to actively participate in the peaceful movement
launched on the basis of these understandings
centered on democracy, peace, prosperity, forward-
looking social change and the country's
independence, sovereignty, and pride.
12. Regarding the inappropriate conducts that took
place between the parties in the past, a common
commitment has been expressed to investigate
any objection raised by any party over such
incidents, take action if found guilty, and to make
the action public. An understanding has been
reached to settle any problem emerging between
the parties through peaceful dialogue at the
concerned level or at the leadership level.
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 31
The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an
independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation,
with over 110 staff members on five continents, working
through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy
to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.
Crisis Group's approach is grounded in field research.
Teams of political analysts are located within or close by
countries at risk of outbreak, escalation or recurrence of
violent conflict. Based on information and assessments
from the field, it produces analytical reports containing
practical recommendations targeted at key international
decision-takers. Crisis Group also publishes CrisisWatch,
a twelve-page monthly bulletin, providing a succinct
regular update on the state of play in all the most significant
situations of conflict or potential conflict around the world.
Crisis Group's reports and briefing papers are distributed
widely by email and printed copy to officials in
foreign ministries and international organisations and
made available simultaneously on the website, Crisis Group works closely with
governments and those who influence them, including
the media, to highlight its crisis analyses and to generate
support for its policy prescriptions.
The Crisis Group Board ~ which includes prominent
figures from the fields of politics, diplomacy, business
and the media — is directly involved in helping to bring
the reports and recommendations to the attention of senior
policy-makers around the world. Crisis Group is chaired
by Lord Patten of Barnes, former European Commissioner
for External Relations. President and Chief Executive
since January 2000 is former Australian Foreign Minister
Gareth Evans.
Crisis Group's international headquarters are in Brussels,
with advocacy offices in Washington DC (where it is
based as a legal entity), New York, London and Moscow.
The organisation currently operates fifteen field offices
(in Amman, Belgrade, Bishkek, Dakar, Dushanbe,
Islamabad, Jakarta, Kabul, Nairobi, Pretoria, Pristina,
Quito, Seoul, Skopje and Tbilisi), with analysts working
in over 50 crisis-affected countries and territories across
four continents. In Africa, this includes Angola, Burundi,
Cote d'lvoire, Democratic Republic ofthe Congo, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Rwanda, the Sahel region,
Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe;
in Asia, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Kashmir, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar/Burma, Nepal, North Korea,
Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; in
Europe, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova,
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Crisis Group raises funds from governments, charitable
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currently provide funding: Agence Intergouvernementale
de la francophonie, Australian Agency for International
Development, Austrian Federal Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Belgian Mnistry of Foreign Affairs, Canadian
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade,
Canadian International Development Agency, Canadian
International Development Research Centre, Czech
Mnistry of Foreign Affairs, Dutch Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, French
Mnistry of Foreign Affairs, German Foreign Office, Irish
Department of Foreign Affairs, Japanese International
Cooperation Agency, Principality of Liechtenstein Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, New Zealand Agency for International
Development, Republic of China (Taiwan) Mnistry of
Foreign Affairs, Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish
Mnistry for Foreign Affairs, Swiss Federal Department of
Foreign Affairs, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
United Kingdom Department for International
Development, U.S. Agency for International Development.
Foundation and private sector donors include Atlantic
Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York,
Compton Foundation, Ford Foundation, Fundacao Oriente,
Fundacion DARA International, Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Hunt
Alternatives Fund, Korea Foundation, John D. & Catherine
T. MacArthur Foundation, Moriah Fund, Charles Stewart
Mott Foundation, Open Society Institute, Pierre and
Pamela Omidyar Fund, David and Lucile Packard
Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, Sigrid Rausing Trust,
Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy
Advisors and Sarlo Foundation ofthe Jewish Community
Endowment Fund.
November 2005
Further information about Crisis Group can be obtained from our website:
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 32
The IMU and the Hizb-ut-Tahrir: Implications of the
Afghanistan Campaign, Asia Briefing NT1, 30 January 2002
(also available in Russian)
Central Asia: Border Disputes and Conflict Potential, Asia
Report N°33, 4 April 2002
Central Asia: Water and Conflict, Asia Report N°34, 30 May
Kyrgyzstan's Political Crisis: An Exit Strategy, Asia Report
N°37, 20 August 2002
The OSCE in Central Asia: A New Strategy, Asia Report
N°38, 11 September 2002
CentralAsia: The Politics of Police Reform, Asia Report N°42,
10 December 2002
Cracks in the Marble: Turkmenistan's Failing Dictatorship,
Asia Report N°44, 17 January 2003
Uzbekistan's Reform Program: Illusion or Reality?, Asia
Report N°46, 18 February 2003 (also available in Russian)
Tajikistan: A Roadmap for Development, Asia Report N°51,
24 April 2003
CentralAsia: Last Chance for Change, Asia Briefing N°25, 29
Apnl 2003
Radical Islam in Central Asia: Responding to Hizb ut-Tahrir,
Asia Report N°58, 30 June 2003
Central Asia: Islam and the State, Asia Report N°59, 10 July
Youth in Central Asia: Losing the New Generation, Asia
Report N°66, 31 October 2003
Is Radical Islam Inevitable in Central Asia? Priorities for
Engagement, Asia Report N°72, 22 December 2003
The Failure of Reform in Uzbekistan: Ways Forward for the
International Community, Asia Report N°76, 11 March 2004
Tajikistan's Politics: Confrontation or Consolidation?, Asia
Briefing N°33, 19 May 2004
Political Transition in Kyrgyzstan: Problems and Prospects,
Asia Report N°81, 11 August 2004
Repression and Regression in Turkmenistan: A New
International Strategy, Asia Report N°85, 4 November 2004
(also available in Russian)
The Curse of Cotton: Central Asia's Destructive Monoculture,
Asia Report N°93, 28 February 2005 (also available in Russian)
Kyrgyzstan: After the Revolution, Asia Report N°97, 4 May
2005 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: The Andijon Uprising, Asia Briefing N°38, 25
May 2005 (also available in Russian)
Taiwan Strait I: What's Left of "One China"?, Asia Report
N°53, 6 June 2003
Taiwan Strait II: The Risk of War, Asia Report N°54, 6 June
Taiwan Strait III: The Chance of Peace, Asia Report N°55, 6
June 2003
North Korea: A Phased Negotiation Strategy, Asia Report N°61,
1 August 2003
Taiwan Strait IV: How an Ultimate Political Settlement Might
Look, Asia Report N°75, 26 February 2004
North Korea: Where Next for the Nuclear Talks?, Asia Report
N°87, 15 November 2004 (also available in Korean and in
Korea Backgrounder: How the South Views its Brother from
Another Planet, Asia Report N°89, 14 December 2004 (also
available in Korean and in Russian)
North Korea: Can the Iron Fist Accept the Invisible Hand?,
Asia Report N°96, 25 April 2005 (also available in Korean and
in Russian)
Japan and North Korea: Bones of Contention, Asia Report
N°100, 27 June 2005 (also available in Korean)
China and Taiwan: Uneasy Detente, Asia Briefing N°42, 21
September 2005
Pakistan: The Dangers of Conventional Wisdom, Pakistan
Briefing NT2, 12 March 2002
Securing Afghanistan: The Need for More International
Action, Afghanistan Briefing NT3, 15 March 2002
The Loya Jirga: One Small Step Forward? Afghanistan &
Pakistan Briefing NT 7, 16 May 2002
Kashmir: Confrontation and Miscalculation, Asia Report
N°35, 11 July 2002
Pakistan: Madrasas, Extremism and the Military, Asia Report
N°36, 29 July 2002
The Afghan Transitional Administration: Prospects and
Perils, Afghanistan Briefing NT 9, 30 July 2002
Pakistan: Transition to Democracy? Asia Report N°40, 3
October 2002
Kashmir: The View From Srinagar, Asia Report N°41,21
November 2002
Afghanistan: Judicial Reform and Transitional Justice, Asia
Report N°45, 28 January 2003
Afghanistan: Women and Reconstruction, Asia Report N°48.
14 March 2003 (also available in Dari)
Pakistan: The Mullahs and the Military, Asia Report N°49,
20 March 2003
Nepal Backgrounder. Ceasefire - Soft Landing or Strategic
Pause?, Asia Report N°50, 10 April 2003
Afghanistan's Flawed Constitutional Process, Asia Report
N°56, 12 June 2003 (also available in Dari)
Nepal: Obstacles to Peace, Asia Report N°57, 17 June 2003
Afghanistan: The Problem of Pashtun Alienation, Asia
Report N°62, 5 August 2003
Peacebuilding in Afghanistan, Asia Report N°64, 29 September
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 33
Disarmament and Reintegration in Afghanistan, Asia Report
N°65, 30 September 2003
Nepal: Back to the Gun, Asia Briefing N°28, 22 October 2003
Kashmir: The View from Islamabad, Asia Report N°68, 4
December 2003
Kashmir: The View from New Delhi, Asia Report N°69, 4
December 2003
Kashmir: Learning from the Past, Asia Report N°70, 4
December 2003
Afghanistan:  The Constitutional Loya Jirga, Afghanistan
Briefing N°29, 12 December 2003
Unfulfilled Promises: Pakistan's Failure to Tackle Extremism,
Asia Report N°73, 16 January 2004
Nepal: Dangerous Plans for Village Militias, Asia Briefing
N°30, 17 February 2004 (also available in Nepali)
Devolution in Pakistan: Reform or Regression?, Asia Report
N°77, 22 March 2004
Elections and Security in Afghanistan, Asia Briefing N°31, 30
March 2004
India/Pakistan Relations and Kashmir: Steps toward Peace,
Asia Report N°79, 24 June 2004
Pakistan: Reforming the Education Sector, Asia Report N°84,
7 October 2004
Building Judicial Independence in Pakistan, Asia Report
N°86, 10 November 2004
Afghanistan: From Presidential to Parliamentary Elections,
Asia Report N°88, 23 November 2004
Nepal's Royal Coup: Making a Bad Situation Worse, Asia
Report N°91, 9 February 2005
Afghanistan: Getting Disarmament Back on  Track, Asia
Briefing N°35, 23 February 2005
Nepal: Responding to the Royal Coup, Asia Briefing N°35,
24 February 2005
Nepah Dealing with a Human Rights Crisis, Asia Report N°94,
24 March 2005
The State of Sectarianism in Pakistan, Asia Report N°95, 18
April 2005
Political Parties in Afghanistan, Asia Briefing N°39, 2 June
Towards a Lasting Peace in Nepal:   The  Constitutional
Issues, Asia Report N°99, 15 June 2005
Afghanistan Elections: Endgame or New Beginning?, Asia
Report N° 101, 21 July 2005
Nepal: Beyond Royal Rule, Asia Briefing N°41, 15 September
Authoritarianism and Political Party Reform in Pakistan,
Asia Report N°102, 28 September 2005
Nepal's Maoists: Their Aims, Structure and Strategy, Asia
Report N°104, 27 October 2005
Pakistan's Local Polls: Shoring Up Military Rule, Asia Briefing
N°43, 22 November 2005
Indonesia: The Search for Peace in Maluku, Asia Report
N°31,8 February 2002
Aceh: Slim Chance for Peace, Indonesia Briefing, 27 March 2002
Myanmar: The Politics of Humanitarian Aid, Asia Report
N°32, 2 April 2002
Myanmar: The HIV/AIDS Crisis, Myanmar Briefing NT 5, 2
April 2002
Indonesia: The Implications ofthe Timor Trials, Indonesia
Briefing NT6, 8 May 2002
Resuming U.S.-Indonesia Military Ties, Indonesia Briefing
NT8, 21 May 2002
Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia: The case of the "Ngruki
Network" in Indonesia, Indonesia Briefing N°20, 8 August
Indonesia: Resources and Conflict in Papua, Asia Report
N°39, 13 September 2002
Myanmar: The Future of the Armed Forces, Asia Briefing
N°21, 27 September 2002
Tensions on Flores: Local Symptoms of National Problems,
Indonesia Briefing N°22, 10 October 2002
Impact of the Bali Bombings, Indonesia Briefing N°23, 24
October 2002
Indonesia Backgrounder: How the Jemaah Islamiyah
Terrorist Network Operates, Asia Report N°43, 11 December
Aceh: A Fragile Peace, Asia Report N°47, 27 February 2003
(also available in Indonesian)
Dividing Papua: How Not to Do It, Asia Briefing N°24, 9
April 2003
Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, Asia Report
N°52, 7 May 2003
Aceh: Why the Military Option Still Won't Work, Indonesia
Briefing N°26, 9 May 2003 (also available in Indonesian)
Indonesia: Managing Decentralisation and Conflict in
South Sulawesi, Asia Report N°60, 18 July 2003
Aceh: How Not to Win Hearts and Minds, Indonesia Briefing
N°27, 23 July 2003
Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still
Dangerous, Asia Report N°63, 26 August 2003
The Perils of Private Security in Indonesia: Guards and
Militias on Bali and Lombok, Asia Report N°67, 7 November
Indonesia Backgrounder: A Guide to the 2004 Elections, Asia
Report N°71, 18 December 2003
Indonesia Backgrounder: Jihad in Central Sulawesi, Asia
Report N°74, 3 February 2004
Myanmar: Sanctions, Engagement or Another Way Forward?,
Asia Report N°78, 26 April 2004
Indonesia: Violence Erupts Again in Ambon, Asia Briefing
N°32, 17 May 2004
Southern Philippines Backgrounder: Terrorism and the Peace
Process, Asia Report N°80,13 July 2004 (also available in Bahasa)
Myanmar: Aid to the Border Areas, Asia Report N°82, 9
September 2004
Indonesia Backgrounder: Why Salafism and Terrorism Mostly
Don't Mix, Asia Report N°83, 13 September 2004
Burma/Myanmar: Update on HIV/AIDS policy, Asia Briefing
N°34, 16 December 2004
Indonesia: Rethinking Internal Security Strategy, Asia Report
N°90, 20 December 2004
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005 Page 34
Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the
Australian Embassy Bombing, Asia Report N°92, 22 February
Decentralisation and Conflict in Indonesia: The Mamasa
Case, Asia Briefing N°37, 3 May 2005
Southern Thailand: Insurgency, Not Jihad, Asia Report N°98,
18 May 2005
Aceh: A New Chance for Peace, Asia Briefing N°40, 15 August
Weakening Indonesia's Mujahidin Networks: Lessons from
Maluku andPoso, Asia Report N°103, 13 October 2005
Thailand's Emergency Decree: No Solution, Asia Report
N°105, 18 November 2005
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 New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 35
Lord Patten of Barnes
Former European Commissioner for External Relations, UK
President & CEO
Gareth Evans
Former Foreign Minister of Australia
Executive Committee
Morton Abramowitz
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador to Turkey
Emma Bonino
Member of European Parliament; former European Commissioner
Cheryl Carolus
Former South African High Commissioner to the UK; former Secretary
General ofthe ANC
Maria Livanos Cattaui*
Former Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce
Yoichi Funabashi
Chief Diplomatic Correspondent & Columnist, The Asahi Shimbun,
William Shawcross
Journalist and author, UK
Stephen Solarz*
Former U.S. Congressman
George Soros
Chairman, Open Society Institute
William O. Taylor
Chairman Emeritus, The Boston Globe, U.S.
Adnan Abu-Odeh
Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah II and to King Hussein;
former Jordan Permanent Representative to UN
Kenneth Adelman
Former U.S. Ambassador and Director of the Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency
Ersin Arioglu
Member of Parliament, Turkey; Chairman Emeritus, Yapi Merkezi
Diego Arria
Former Ambassador of Venezuela to the UN
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor to the President
Kim Campbell
Secretary General, Club of Madrid; formerPrime Minister ofCanada
Victor Chu
Chairman, First Eastern Investment Group, Hong Kong
Wesley Clark
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Pat Cox
Former President of European Parliament
Ruth Dreifuss
Former President, Switzerland
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denmark
Mark Eyskens
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Leslie H. Gelb
President Emeritus of Council on Foreign Relations, U.S.
Bronislaw Geremek
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland
Frank Giustra
Chairman, Endeavour Financial, Canada
I.K. Gujral
Former Prime Minister of India
Carla Hills
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing; former U.S. Trade Representative
Lena Hjelm-Wallen
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Sweden
James C.F. Huang
Deputy Secretary General to the President, Taiwan
Swanee Hunt
Chair of Inclusive Security: Women Waging Peace; former U.S.
Ambassador to Austria
Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary
Executions; former Chair Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Shiv Vikram Khemka
Founder and Executive Director (Russia) of SUN Group, India
James V. Kimsey
Founder and Chairman Emeritus of America Online, Inc. (AOL)
Bethuel Kiplagat
Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya
Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister, Netherlands
Trifun Kostovski
Member of Parliament, Macedonia; founder ofKometal Trade Gmbh
Elliott F. Kulick
Chairman, Pegasus International, U.S.
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Novelist and journalist, U.S.
Todung Mulya Lubis
Human rights lawyer and author, Indonesia
 Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 06, 28 November 2005
Page 36
Ayo Obe
Chair of Steering Committee of World Movement for Democracy,
Christine Ockrent
Journalist and author, France
Friedbert Pfluger
Foreign Policy Spokesman ofthe CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group
in the German Bundestag
Victor M. Pinchuk
Member of Parliament, Ukraine; founder oflnterpipe Scientific and
Industrial Production Group
Surin Pitsuwan
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thailand
Itamar Rabinovich
President of Tel Aviv University; former Israeli Ambassador to the
U.S. and Chief Negotiator with Syria
Fidel V. Ramos
Former President ofthe Philippines
Lord Robertson of Port Ellen
Former Secretary General of NATO; former Defence Secretary, UK
Mohamed Sahnoun
Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Africa
Ghassan Salame
Former Minister Lebanon, Professor of International Relations, Paris
Salim A. Salim
Former Prime Minister of Tanzania; former Secretary General of
the Organisation of African Unity
Douglas Schoen
Founding Partner of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, U.S.
Par Stenback
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finland
Thorvald Stoltenberg
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway
Grigory Yavlinsky
Chairman ofYabloko Party and its Duma faction, Russia
Uta Zapf
Chairperson   of   the    German   Bundestag   Subcommittee    on
Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation
Ernesto Zedillo
Former President of Mexico; Director, Yale Center for the Study
of Globalization
Crisis Group's International Advisory Board comprises major individual and corporate donors who contribute their advice and
experience to Crisis Group on a regular basis.
Rita E. Hauser (Chair)
Marc Abramowitz
Anglo American PLC
APCO Worldwide Inc.
BHP Billiton
John Chapman Chester
Peter Corcoran
Credit Suisse Group
John Ehara
Equinox Partners
JP Morgan Global Foreign
Exchange and Commodities
George Kellner
George Loening
Douglas Makepeace
Anna Luisa Ponti
Baron Ullens
Michael L. Riordan
Sarlo Foundation ofthe Jewish
Community Endowment Fund
Tilleke & Gibbins
Stanley Weiss
Westfield Group
Don Xia
Yasuyo Yamazaki
Sunny Yoon
Crisis Group's Senior Advisers are former Board Members (not presently holding executive office) who maintain an association
with Crisis Group, and whose advice and support are called on from time to time.
Oscar Arias
Zainab Bangura
Christoph Bertram
Jorge Castaiieda
Eugene Chien
Gianfranco Dell'Alba
Alain Destexhe
Marika Fahlen
Stanley Fischer
Malcolm Fraser
Max Jakobson
Mong Joon Chung
Allan J. MacEachen
Barbara McDougall
Matt McHugh
George J. Mitchell
Cyril Ramaphosa
Michel Rocard
Volker Ruehe
Simone Veil
Michael Sohlman
Leo Tindemans
Ed van Thijn
Shirley Williams
As at November 2005


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