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Nepal parties minus Maoists

Kathmandu, April 25: As Nepal’s seven-party alliance formally welcomed King Gyanendra’s proclamation reinstating the parliament, the entire country went into a well-deserved celebratory mode.

This morning, the parties unanimously nominated 84-year-old Girija Prasad Koirala, president of the Nepali Congress, Prime Minister of the new interim government. There was no bickering.

The parties promised to undo the wrongs committed by the king during the last four years of his unfettered rule and reiterated their commitment to the 12-point agreement with the Maoists.

They vowed to take action against those who committed atrocities against the people in the agitation for democracy.

However, their allies in the people’s movement for democracy, the Maoists, used heightened rhetoric to describe their welcoming the king’s proclamation as a “historic mistake” and “a violation” of the agreement with them.

It would be erroneous, however, to see this as a confrontation building up. The parties themselves are not too upset.

The Maoists were not expected to praise the king’s act. And there is an agreement to disagree on the reinstatement of Parliament as well as the route to the Constituent Assembly.

Communication between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists is continuing. As the parties unfold their policies and actions, the Maoist response is likely to change.

An indication of how the Maoists felt about the reinstatement of Parliament was evident in the attitude of Amik Sherchan, leader of the Jan Morcha.

Considered ideologically close to the Maoists, the Jan Morcha is part of the seven-party alliance.

“We are not going to welcome this fully. Our reservations will continue till a Constituent Assembly is announced. We have had a brief consultation with the Maoists. They have told us that they will continue calling the king’s move a deception till an unconditional Constituent Assembly is announced.

They also want the Royal Nepal Army to be brought firmly under the parliament,” Sherchan said.

The seven-party alliance has described the reinstatement of the parliament only as “a point of departure”. They said in a statement, that they would use the parliament to form an all-party government, organise elections to a Constituent Assembly and move in the direction of an “inclusive and co-operative democracy” and of a “restructured the state”.

The parties also made three important announcements: To declare all “unconstitutional decisions” taken by the “dictatorial” royal government null and void; to set up a high-level commission to probe the atrocities committed by the security forces against pro-democracy demonstrators and punish the guilty; and to immediately release all those arrested during the people’s movement.

The reinstated Parliament is likely to withdraw on the first day itself, the red-corner notices against the Maoists, remove the epithet “terrorist” used against them and withdraw the dreaded TADO ' Terrorist and Destructive Activities (Control and Punishment) Ordinance.

“The announcement of a Constituent Assembly should be the first step of the reconstituted parliament,” said Madhav Nepal (Nepal Communist Party - United Marxist Leninist).

Would there be a place for the king in a new Nepal'

Madhav Nepal only said: “That would be decided by the Constituent Assembly. The question really is: To what extent can the king still win the confidence of the people of Nepal'”

The tempers in the street were high. A huge crowd in the mood for retribution shouted anti-monarchy slogans outside the residence of Koirala where the seven-party leaders met this morning. They shouted: “Don’t let Gyanendra leave the country. We still have scores to settle with him.”

Meanwhile, the district administration of Kathmandu and Lalitpur has ordered the release of hundreds of political detainees taken into custody during the democracy movement.

Those who were released today included former Supreme Court Justice Laxman Aryal, former speaker of parliament Daman Nath Dhungana, a facilitator for talks with the Maoists Padmaratan Tuladhar, human rights activists Devendra Raj Pandey and Chaman Parsain, Krishna Pahadi and journalists Shyam Shreshtha, Kanak Mani Dixit and his wife.

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