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'Nepal Maoists have revived communism'

world Updated: May 04, 2008 09:25 IST
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The leader of Nepal's Maoists, Prachanda, says the victory of his left-wing former rebels in last month's landmark elections is a sign of the global resurgence of communism.

The former schoolteacher, once branded a "terrorist" and wanted by Interpol, is now vying to be the first president of a republican Nepal, and he says his party's success at the ballot box is rooted in its communist ideals.

"The revolutionary process is now happening in third world countries, and when it is completed in developing countries, a new wave of socialist revolution will be there in developed countries," Prachanda said.

"Here in Nepal we are trying our best to develop our ideology according to the changed situation," the 54-year-old told reporters from AFP and an Italian news magazine.

"Communists all over the world need to understand the new challenges, the new developments of the 21st century."

The Maoists won 220 seats -- more than twice as many as its closest rival, the Nepali Congress -- in the April 10 elections for a 601-member body that will rewrite Nepal's constitution and abolish the monarchy.

"Our victory in the constituent assembly elections will be a big reference point for Maoists all over the world," said the moustachioed Maoist, whose nom-de-guerre means "the fierce one."

After living underground for 25 years, Prachanda emerged from the shadows to sign a peace deal in 2006 and end a decade-long revolt that left at least 13,000 people dead and destroyed Nepal's already fragile economy.

The Maoists are now promising radical change in Nepal, a traditionally conservative country with strict caste, ethnic and gender divisions where around 31 percent of people live on less than a dollar a day.

"We have come to a new understanding that multi-party competition is a must, even in socialism," said the Maoist leader, whose party displayed portraits of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong at campaign rallies.

"Without having multi-party competition, it is not possible to create a vibrant society."

The Maoists warned last week that they would form a new government with or without the help of the mainstream political parties with which they signed the 2006 deal -- and which they resoundingly defeated in the April elections.

Senior leaders from the Nepali Congress, firm favourites before the shock results, have suggested the current interim administration led by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala should remain.

But Prachanda has said he has the right to lead the next government.

The Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal are now holding internal meetings amid deep divisions about whether they should join the former rebels.

Under the timetable laid out in Nepal's interim constitution, the first meeting of the constituent assembly has to be held before May 26.

The Maoists promised voters to bring about "revolutionary" land reform but they have also said they want to attract foreign investment and start to tap the Himalayan country's massive potential for hydro-electricity.

"We are interested in private investment from inside and outside the country, but the priority of the investment will be decided by the Nepalese and Nepalese government," Prachanda said.

The Maoist leader said he believes that no matter what follows, his party has secured a place in history.

"I think history should remember our ideology and actions as this is something new for the 21st century," he said.

"Communism has revived itself from all the old experiences. New ideology, new strategy has been created by the Nepalese Maoists."