- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The leader of Nepal’s Maoist rebellion says he has not closed the door on negotiations for a peaceful solution to the seven-year conflict, but is committed to “fight till the end” for the election of a constituent assembly.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, 49, alias Prachanda, also said his Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist is willing to “institutionalize competition among political forces that are antifeudal, anti-imperialistic [and] under a democratic legal system.”

In Katmandu, Nepal’s capital, the Supreme Court was reported to be considering a petition to reinstate parliament, which has not met for 18 months.

The legislature was dissolved in May 2002 by then-Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in advance of elections planned for November last year. A month before the election, King Gyanendra dismissed Mr. Deuba as “incompetent” and postponed the elections indefinitely.

The country’s five main opposition parties said in a joint statement on Sunday they would resume their campaign against the king “to restore multiparty democracy.”

Mr. Dahal said in an interview conducted via e-mail on Nov. 29 that peace talks with the government broke down in August because the government rejected his party’s demand for democratic rule.

He also cited cease-fire violations by the royal army, leading to the massacre of 21 unarmed cadre members in Doramba, Ramechap district, while the peace talks were under way.

Mr. Dahal said that the rebels control 80 percent of Nepalese territory and that the royal regime, which he calls the “old state,” is confined to district headquarters and a few urban areas.

More than 500 government soldiers have deserted, he said.

Mr. Dahal said it was only U.S. military assistance that kept King Gyanendra’s government from collapsing.

“It is our synthesis that if the Bush administration … had not supplied money, arms and training to the genocidal royal army, it would have been defeated last year by the People’s Liberation Army,” he said.

The Maoist leader dismissed elections proposed by the government as a “conspiracy to put a veil over the militarization of the country and to hoodwink the people.”

“If the old state foolishly calls elections, then we will completely smash it through a general rebellion,” he added.

Mr. Dahal was little disturbed that the United States has listed his movement as a “global terrorist” group. The listing, he said, inadvertently has “created a good atmosphere to integrate our movement with anti-imperialist, antiwar world opinion.”

Chitra Tiwari is a Washington-based analyst of international affairs and former political science lecturer at Tribhuvan University in Katmandu.

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