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Nepal tense over Maoists demand

world Updated: Feb 15, 2011 01:59 IST
Utpal Parashar

The demand for home ministry by Maoists in Nepal as pre-condition to join the new Jhalanath Khanal government could derail the peace and constitution drafting processes feel experts.

Opinion is growing that the country’s biggest party helped Khanal, chief of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), reach the PM’s post in order to fulfill its own plans.

Reports on Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ telling cadres the home ministry would help withdraw cases of abuse against party members and boost plans for peoples’ revolt are adding to such fears.

“Prachanda has been quoted as telling party members that if Maoists get the home portfolio it would grant impunity to cadres involved in rights abuses,” said eminent human rights activist Sushil Pyakurel.

In an appeal issued on Sunday, Pyakurel and seven other eminent citizens said that if Maoists get home and defence ministries, it would have negative effect on peace and constitution drafting.

Senior journalist and political commentator Kanak Mani Dixit also feels the home ministry would allow Maoists to withdraw cases of atrocities lodged against party cadres.

“Home Affairs would also allow Maoists to control the security apparatus and government administration, and define the course of elections when term of the Constituent Assembly ends in May,” he wrote in Nepali Times.

Khanal and Prachanda inked a secret seven point deal ahead of the prime ministerial poll on February 3. They reportedly had a verbal agreement that Maoists would get home ministry once Khanal became PM.

But with several of Khanal’s party colleagues refusing to ‘honour’ the deal, Maoists and CPN (UML) are engaged in a tug of war for home ministry with the former deciding to stay out of government.

Fresh concern is brewing following reports that Khanal has decided to go against his party and hand over the portfolio to Maoists to prevent the deal from falling apart.

There is also debate on contentious clauses in the deal including setting up of a separate security force comprising Maoist combatants and both parties heading the government on rotational basis.