Maoists quit govt, to disrupt polls

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By J. HEMANTH in Kathmandu
  • Published 18.09.07

Kathmandu, Sept. 18: The Maoists quit the coalition government today and announcing a three-week agitation programme to disrupt the Constituent Assembly elections due to the authorities’ reluctance to abolish the monarchy.

The move is a major setback to last year’s peace deal in which the rebels ended a decade-old insurgency and agreed to the elections.

“We will not accept the code of conduct announced by the election commission and we will disrupt all election plans,” Maoist deputy leader Baburam Bhattarai told a rally in Kathmandu.

Four Maoist ministers submitted their resignations to Koirala before joining the rally. Though there was no official word on the resignations from Koirala’s office, Bhattarai said his party would be forced to retaliate if the government tried to foil their agitation.

“Our protest programmes will be peaceful. But we reserve our right to retaliate if any attempt is made to suppress the protesters violently,” he said.

Bhattarai also criticised India and the US for their “active interest” in Nepal’s internal affairs. He claimed the Maoists were categorised as terrorists when they opposed the role of the foreign powers.

“If we are described as terrorists when we fight for our independence, then George Washington and Subhash Chandra Bose, who fought for the independence of their respective countries, were the biggest terrorists,” he said.

Maoist chief Prachanda did not attend the meeting or the final round of talks with the government as he is suffering from high blood pressure and spondylitis.

Bhattarai said the elections would become a charade if the monarchy continued to play a role in Nepal politics.

However, Koirala has said that the demand is unjustified as all parties had agreed that the elections, scheduled to be held on November 22, would decide on the fate of the monarchy.

Maoist sources told The Telegraph that the party was extremely nervous about facing an election after erosion in its support base. They said an internal survey on Maoists’ electoral prospects depicted an “extremely dismal” picture. “The survey revealed that the party had lost all its clout in the Terai region and large pockets of rural Nepal,” the sources said.

The Maoists said they would launch protests in 4,000 villages and in front of district administration offices to press their demands.