Monday, May 21, 2007

New International Crisis Group Report on Nepal: Nepal’s Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?

Nepal’s Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?

(Click here for the original source of article)

Click here to read the executive summary of the report.

Kathmandu/Brussels, 18 May 2007: While Nepal’s Maoists have accepted multiparty democracy and have lost their appetite for all-out war, they could still resort to physical confrontation if the peace process stagnates.

Nepal’s Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses the Maoists’ internal debates and their transition to a more moderate strategy. Their entry into democratic politics – working alongside mainstream parties to force the king to relinquish power in April 2006 and joining a coalition government one year later – has brought them new influence and opportunities. However, some Maoists fear they have traded in their principles and military power for little tangible advantage.

“Making the political process work is up to other actors as much as the Maoists”, says Rhoderick Chalmers, Deputy Director of Crisis Group’s South Asia Project. “If the mainstream parties are committed to the peace agreement and keep their side of the bargain, Maoist leaders will find it much easier to persuade their followers that compromise is the best way forward”.

The Maoists always said their campaign would adapt classical Marxism and Maoism to suit the context of Nepal. They now argue that they can carry out a “peaceful revolution” that is true to their aims but also reflects political realities. In this light, joining the parliamentary parties and pushing for a bourgeois “democratic republic” is just a stepping stone towards a true “people’s republic”. They hope to use the constituent assembly process to restructure the state, secure a dominant position within the multiparty system and move toward their ultimate goal.

The decision to join mainstream politics stemmed from an analysis of the Maoists’ own strategic weaknesses. They concluded that their belief in military victory had been misplaced, acknowledged that they had misread the likelihood of determined international opposition, and drew lessons from the failures that caused the collapse of many twentieth-century communist regimes.

With this shift, the Maoists are slowly becoming a part of the establishment in parliament, where they are learning to play by the rules, even if they are not always ready to follow them; in government, where their ministers are fulfilling day-to-day duties while pushing the movement’s agenda; and in the international community, where they have won a degree of recognition.

Within the Maoist movement, however, critics of the peace deal are becoming more vocal. They accuse the mainstream parties of stalling on critical parts of the peace deal (such as security sector reform) and taking Maoist flexibility for weakness. “Threats of a new mass movement are part bluster but also reflect real pressure on Maoist leaders to deliver”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “They have little to gain by reverting to violence – but the people of Nepal have plenty to lose”.



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Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) +32 (0) 2 541 1635
Kimberly Abbott (Washington) +1 202 785 1601
To contact Crisis Group media please click here*Read the full Crisis Group report on our website: http://www.crisisgroup.org
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