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Maoists to give peace a chance

india Updated: Nov 19, 2006 11:18 IST

Prachanda regrets killings, but does not abjure violence

THE FIRST thing Maoists in Nepal would like to see as they engage in the development of a democratic setup in that country is the abolition of, what they call, “the monarchical feudal autocracy”.

Top Nepalese Maoist leader Prachanda made this clear at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here on Saturday, speaking for the first time at an international public forum.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman, whose cadres fought a bitter battle for over a decade against the monarchy in Nepal, refused to abjure violence and chose to remain ambiguous about the use of violence to achieve political ends.

Prachanda said the role of violence needed to be viewed in “relative” terms. “Violence can be condemned in absolute terms. We do not see it in absolute terms, but in relative terms, depending on the situation. When there will be a conducive atmosphere for economic growth, there will be no need for violence,” he responded to a question.

“We are sorry for the killing of so many people,” he said, when asked whether the Maoists were comfortable being labelled terrorists. “Everywhere, in revolutionary movements, it is the people who have to sacrifice.”

But he stressed that the Maoists would adhere to the broad time-line agreed to in the comprehensive peace agreement, due to be signed on November 21, and would join the multi-party mainstream of democracy. “The recent political agreement between the Seven-Party Alliance government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is aimed at conducting free and fair election to the Constituent Assembly under an interim government to institutionalise the democratic republic,” he said.

The main leadership of the Maoists — Prachanda himself, Baburam Bhattarai and Badal — will not join the interim government, but will definitely contest elections. Prachanda also conceded his desire to be the first head of a republican democracy — not for himself, but “if the party wants it”.

Speaking on the future of the monarchy, Prachanda said, “The king will have no hold over anything. Possessions would be nationalised. If the present king is found to have been involved in corruption, he would be tried accordingly.”

“He is likely to be removed in the first session. If the people vote for the monarchy to remain, even as a symbol, we would carry out a non-violent campaign. We do not want the monarchy to remain even as a symbol,” he added. On the issue of disarming the Maoist cadres, Prachanda said, "The arms will be locked up in iron boxes with keys with the United Nations' observers. The cadres would, of course, retain some arms and ammunition for self-defence, according to international standards and under the supervision of international observers."

Responding to questions on the future of the army and his armed cadres, he said, "After the elections, both would be merged into a new national army. The old army would be democratised and the cadres professionalised. They would be jointly trained under UN observation. The new national army would be a small one — between 20,000 and 30,000 personnel."

Prachanda dismissed the Indian government's apprehensions of possible links with the Maoists in India. "There are ideological differences between the movement in India and the Nepalese movement. We never had any working link. There is no link between Pashupati to Tirupati," he