- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Maoist threat

The U.S. ambassador to Nepal yesterday added a final warning in a series of farewell addresses, as he cited the threat of former Maoist rebels now in the interim government who still want “absolute power.”

“They continue to use violence and continue to threaten the [peace] process, itself, if they don’t get everything they want,” Ambassador James F. Moriartytold reporters in the capital, Katmandu. “Everything they want is power, absolute power, not part of a multiparty democracy.”

Mr. Moriarty, who is scheduled to leave the Himalayan nation this week after three years as ambassador, said the United States will continue to include the Maoists as a terrorist group on a black list of extremist organizations, even though they entered a caretaker government in January to prepare a new constitution.

The ambassador accused the Maoist leaders of failing to control violence by their proteges in the Young Communist League. However, if they rein in the young communists and control violence, the United States will review their status on the terrorist list, he added.

He said the Maoists are divided internally between their leaders, such as Pushpa Dahal, also known as Prachanda, who want to pursue power through the government, and radicals, who want to restart the 10-year civil war that claimed 13,000 lives.

Mr. Moriarty said he suspects that Mr. Dahal agreed to join the interim administration only “to force the government into a rolling series of concessions that ultimately result in them grabbing full power.”

Last week, Mr. Moriarty delivered two messages, one as an opinion piece for a local newspaper and the other as a speech at the U.S. Embassy’s Independence Day reception. In both, he again warned of the threat of Maoist violence but also urged the government to organize a free and fair election on Nov. 22 to select representatives to a constitutional convention.

He also warned of an ethnic uprising by extremists in the country’s Madhesi minority.

“The constituent assembly election … is both an opportunity and a test for this country,” he told his guests at the embassy reception.

“A successful election, whose results stand up to international security and are considered legitimate by all the people, will allow Nepal to continue moving forward in its democratic nation building.”

The new constitution will decide the fate of a 238-year-old monarchy that is discredited by a wide majority of the population. King Gyanendra last year surrendered his absolute power after a mass pro-democracy uprising.

The king has become so unpopular that Mr. Moriarty and other foreign ambassadors refused to attend his 60th birthday celebration on Sunday. Tens of thousands of Nepalese used to attend his birthday parties, but only about 1,000 guests showed up at the palace over the weekend, according to a report by Agence France-Presse.

Guinea-Bissau office

The United States over the weekend reopened a diplomatic office in tiny, dirt-poor Guinea-Bissau, less than a month after criticizing the government for firing a police chief who was widely credited with fighting Latin American drug smugglers. Drug traffickers are trying to make the West African nation a gateway to Europe.

“Reopening this office paves the way for reopening of a U.S. Embassy,” said Janice Jacobs, the U.S. ambassador to neighboring Senegal, who is also accredited to Guinea-Bissau.

The United States closed its embassy nearly 10 years ago during a short, but devastating, civil war. The new office is a diplomatic liaison mission to prepare for an upgrade in relations.

On June 13, the embassy in Senegal sent a letter to Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira, criticizing him for firing Police Chief Orlando Antonio da Silva, according to the Reuters news agency.

“The United States is profoundly concerned” about his dismissal, the letter said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.