The State Department on Thursday removed the Communist Party of Nepal from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations on grounds the Maoist group has abandoned its militant past in favor of “engagement in peaceful political dialogue in Nepal.”
The Maoists are “no longer engaged in terrorist activity that threatens the security of U.S. nationals or U.S. foreign policy,” the State Department said in a written statement.
The political party — known as the CPN (Maoist) — has been “has taken steps to dismantle its apparatus for the conduct of terrorist operations and has demonstrated a credible commitment to pursuing the peace and reconciliation process in Nepal,” the State Department said. The party is also part of the ruling coalition government.
The removal of the party from the terrorist list comes amid a half decade of internal turmoil in Nepal over how to peacefully integrate the Maoist, Marxist and Leninist factions into the nation’s newly democratic political landscape.
The nation of 27 million people sandwiched in the mountains between India and China was for centuries a Hindu monarchy until emerging as a democratic republic in 2008. Militarized Maoist factions clashed with the Nepalese army during more than a decade of civil war that preceded the fall of the monarchy. The United States placed the Maoist group on its list of terrorist organizations in 2003.
Turbulence surrounding the formation of a government for the Nepalese republic in recent years has pitted the nation’s various communist factions against the Nepali Congress, a democratic political movement that dates to the 1950s. While the Nepali Congress briefly held power during the mid-2000s, Nepal’s prime ministership has been held by communists since 2008.
Several European powers removed the communists from terrorist lists during the mid-2000s.
“Today’s delisting does not seek to overlook or forget the party’s violent past, but rather looks ahead towards the party’s continued engagement in a peaceful, democratic political dialogue in Nepal,” the State Department said.