Nepal Maoists to start another 'People's War'
Exactly 11 years after Maoists rebels began their guerrilla uprising, they plan to launch another 'People's War' next week.Updated: Feb 06, 2007, 14:43 IST
Exactly 11 years after they began their guerrilla uprising demanding the abolition of monarchy, Nepal's Maoist rebels will launch another 'People's War' from Feb 13 - this time peaceful and overground.
February 13 marks the fateful day the struggle started in 1996. Though the rebels have now pledged to lay down arms and take part in the elections scheduled to be held by June, the target of its 'peaceful war' is still an end to Nepal's 238-year monarchy and the transformation of the Himalayan kingdom into a federal republic.
Maoist supremo Prachanda himself will lead the new blitzkrieg that will last from next Tuesday to Feb 25 and will cover 10 major cities.
Besides Kathmandu, the mass meetings will target the industrial towns of Biratnagar and Birgunj near the Indian border, Ghorahi, where the rebels staged one of their first raids, and remote Jumla in the north, near the Tibet border.
The new battle is more like an election campaign with the elections just about four months away.
Prachanda and his deputy Dr Baburam Bhattarai issued a joint statement, saying the new movement would combat attempts by King Gyanendra's followers to scuttle the election, the indecision and incompetence of the seven-party government and the manoeuvres by foreign powers to aid the king.
The new movement has 13 demands, which include making the government announce election dates.
The rebels also want Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to keep the commitments he made when he signed a peace pact with them last year and agreed to form a new government with the Maoists as partners.
Continuing their war on monarchy, the Maoists also want the property owned by King Gyanendra and other members of the royal family to be taken over by the state.
The coming spate of meetings is likely to gain more support for the rebels at the cost of Nepal's major parties and the king.
An opinion poll conducted by an independent organisation, Interdisciplinary Analysts, that questioned a little over 2,000 people in 21 districts found Prachanda was the most popular leader, followed by Koirala and former deputy prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who heads the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, coming third.
Deposed premier Sher Bahadur Deuba came a poor fourth with the king struggling in the fifth place.
However, just about 25 percent knew what the upcoming elections meant while nearly 27 percent had not even heard of them.
Despite King Gyanendra's personal poor rating, the crown still has its diehard fans.
A total 22 percent people said they wanted an active monarch, nearly 41 percent a constitutional monarch and 18.2 percent a ceremonial monarch.
However, compared to public sentiments in 2004, monarchy has undoubtedly been losing its popularity. In December, 80 percent had supported the institution.