Rules of the road


On the Shelf

« Nepal: Politicians heckled at victory rally | Main | Nepal Updates: King Swears in Koirala, RNA Attacks Maoists, Constituent Assembly Is On! »

April 28, 2006


According to this AP story:

"But experts say it is unclear if a new charter can legally remove the king from his role as Nepal's supreme arbiter of power or as the top commander of the military.

Any moves against the king's power are sure to face challenges in courts packed with royal appointees.

"The Constitution assembly has come only as a slogan," said Shreehari Aryal, a respected lawyer who has argued numerous cases before Nepal's Supreme Court.

Making a "political decision is not enough. The process has to step within the legal framework," he said. "There is always a chance the royalists can challenge the formation of such an assembly in court."

Another legal expert, Jogendra Ghimire, suggested the parties could simply rely on the political support they now enjoy to force through changes demanded by the people."

Here it is, right on cue. The SPA and the king are now going to try to demobilize the popular democracy movement by insisting that they wait for a process that will take time - a long time. It'll be interesting to see what the CPN[M] does to keep the fires burning.


above post mine

Maoists have the upper hand

Maoists have upper hand, analysts say

Rebels become important players as Nepal lurches toward democracy

Toronto Globe & Mail

As Nepal catches its collective breath after weeks of turmoil, renewed attention is focusing on the country's Maoist rebels and their decade-long violent insurrection aimed at toppling the monarchy in favour of a communist republic.

In the view of some analysts, the Maoists have the upper hand politically now that King Gyanendra has bowed to popular pressure -- applied in part by their alliance of convenience with mainstream political parties -- and has begun ceding absolutist rule.

Yesterday, the King appointed Girija Prasad Koirala, a feeble and sickly 84-year-old politician, as Prime Minister as the first step to restoring multiparty democracy.

But the real drama involves efforts to somehow draw the Nepal Communist Party (Maoists) away from their past terrorist tactics and into the acceptable democratic sphere. The Maoist insurgency has claimed more than 13,000 lives; the rebels control large areas of rural Nepal through intimidation and brutality.

"They may yet be brought into non-violent mainstream politics, but only if the moderate forces are backed unequivocally by the outside world," says Rhoderick Chalmers, a Kathmandu-based analyst for International Crisis Group. " . . . For the time being, they are in the driver's seat."

Despite the rebels' declaration of a three-month ceasefire, they remain in an "active defensive position."

In an interview with Reuters from one of their southern redoubts yesterday, Comrade Sunil vowed that the rebels would not lay down their weapons until the Royal Nepalese Army is disbanded.

Moreover, Sunil insisted that even a ceremonial role for the monarchy would be unacceptable.

"We do not want a ceremonial monarch, nor a constitutional monarch, we want a republic," said Sunil, a member of the Maoist party's central committee.

Former government minister Padma Ralna Tuladhar told Agence France-Presse that the role of the Maoists in mobilizing thousands of protesters, and the fact that they've stayed clear of violent tactics in recent weeks, gained them respect among Nepalis and opened a door for negotiations.

"It's a historical opportunity for them to have a republican state and they don't want to miss it," he said.

Still, any moves by the Maoists in Nepal's transition from the King's absolutist rule to a stable multiparty political system will be viewed with great suspicion.

"My real concern is that the successor government may end up being dominated by the Maoists," U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty told reporters. "The Maoists would, under the current situation, swing a lot of weight because they have the weapons and the parties do not."

Mr. Chalmers, of International Crisis Group, has argued for the formation of a group consisting of India, the United States, Britain and the United Nations to prepare for a small international ceasefire-monitoring mission as well as a channel of communication with the rebels.

The Maoists, whose rhetoric contains numerous communist references to class warfare and social inequality, say that in their "people's war" they are liberating the population from a caste system, giving women equal rights, and overthrowing an oppressive monarchy.

Critics of the Maoists point to human-rights abuses such as many extrajudicial killings, and also alleged rapes and conscription at gunpoint. The European Union has sharply criticized the Maoists for using children as soldiers.

In the summer of 2004, the rebels abducted hundreds of schoolchildren on the outskirts of Kathmandu for week-long "re-education."

Mao now

Although no longer considered relevant in China, Mao Zedong's revolutionary-peasant brand of communism still has adherents around the world, mostly in Southeast Asia.

Shining Path

Nicknamed Shampoo "because he brainwashed people," philosophy professor Abimael Guzman founded the rebel movement in the 1970s. It began trying to impose communism on Peru by burning ballot boxes on the eve of democratic elections in 1980.

A government truth commission in 2003 blamed Shining Path for 54 per cent of an estimated 69,280 deaths by rebel groups and the military in the 1980s and 1990s. The group was largely crushed in 1992 with Mr. Guzman's arrest, but several hundred diehards remain holed up in Andean and jungle areas.


The Indian Maoist rebel group was born in the south in 1980 and its network has since spread to 14 other states. Authorities estimate the Naxalites have about 9,300 fighters and have launched more than a dozen assaults on government targets in the past year. They are most active in areas predominated by ethnic minorities who have benefited little from rich mineral resources in their areas.

New People's Army

The rebel group has been fighting for a Maoist state in the Philippines for three decades. Its roots can be traced from the Hukbalahap, a resistance group formed during the Second World War Japanese occupation.

Starting out with 60 fighters and 34 rifles, the NPA quickly spread throughout the Philippine Islands during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and helped in his downfall. Estimated to have about 8,000 fighters, the rebels are blamed for 40,000 deaths.


CPNM must keep up the mass movement, along with the rand and file of the parties and others who want a republic. Tearing down king statues, changing street and park names, and removing symbols of the old state is a great way to do this. They can make "republican zones" on the ground. The SPA can follow the 12-point agreement, or be swept aside.

Comandante Gringo

The Indypendent article is that rare combination of accuracy and non-threatening analysis which even the middle-classes could read over their morning capuccinos. Well done.

The rest is just scurrilous electronic bumwad. Someone should complain.

the burningman

Who said the middle classes own good coffee, bro?

I learned about espresso as a dishwasher and from hanging out with Cubans.

Comandante Gringo

Did I say that their morning capuccinos were good? I meant only that they were pretentious and self-important fux, is what I meant. All hail the excellent quality of proletarian coffee!!

What kind of coffee do they have in Nepal, I wonder..?

Honestly wondering

Could the Maoists join "the mainstream"?

They talk of disarmament?


The Maoists are not talking about disarming. They will not be engaging in military offensives but they will hold onto their weapons. Disarming would be suicidal as it would mean accepting the rule of the king and/or the SPA. After all, it was the armed struggle that got the Neplese even this people this far. Mainstream media do not make this point, creating the impression that events would have unfolded this way even without the People's War.

The CPN[M] didn't fight this long to join a 'mainstream' dominated by bourgeois/royalist politics. Rather, their goal is to create a liberating socialist society which will be the new mainstream.

Commandante, proletarian or not, cappuccinos are pretty fucking good - why should the middle class have all the good caffeine? Starbuck's must be nationalized! Sorry, I could use a bit more decaf myself...

Comandante Gringo

You *are* wired...

To the wonderer: these are the bourgeois propaganda lies I've been alluding to. Not only do these people purposely try to manipulate facts to fit their prejudices -- and their masters' objectives -- and simply make things up if they need to: these people honestly do not understand even the first thing about real politix, let alone the marxist variety.

If the bourgeois mass-media wasn't still pretty much the only game in town most of the time, we would have to push very hard to have people stop following it. It's that bad. As things stand, we still have to follow it too much, just to find out certain facts in a timely manner.
This will change. Must change.

Comandante Gringo

We not only need daily updates on the political situation in Nepal here on this blog now -- we require statistix on that country (India too).

Who has sources on the class composition, GNP, industry, crops, population, rainfall, etc., for Nepal?

Ironically, probably the best place for that data is the CIA World Factbook:

For Nepal:

For India:

Of course they don't acknowledge 'class' as a category. As far as that goes, Comrade Bhattarai has an essay called 'The Political Economy of the People's War' in a great book called "The People's War in Nepal" edited by Arjun Karki and David Seddon. You might be able to find it in your local Revolution Books, I got mine a couple of years ago, but i don't know how easily available it is now.


This is a good website for up-to-the-minute news in Nepal:

According to this site, the RNA just aerially attacked a mass meeting of the CPN[M]. Even if this was retaliation for the soldiers who were abducted a few days ago, who have since been released, this is overkill and further confirmation that the armed struggle is far from being unnecessary.

security czech

I'd take care referencing the CIA -- especially from a left-wing website. Basic demographic information is on Wikipedia... and for someone looking for a detailed class analsysis of Nepal -- the best source is... Baburam Bhattarai, who wrote his PhD dissertation as exactly that. THEY SAY it's the ill shizzle (trans.: bomb diggity.)

Comandante Gringo

You know -- as I posted that request, I just _knew_ that the 'CIA Factbook' option would be in the very first reply... But look at that sorry crap they have for facts, really. Pick a country. Any country. It's not very good or very much. And as you say -- their categories are bourgeois to a big, fat fault.

The maps suck canal-water too.

Believe me: that's just eye-wash for the Internet whoregeoisie, that stuff is. The *real* CIA analysts get caviar. This pompous "CIA Factbook" crap is just fish offal for the hoi polloi.

I want REAL statistix!

Comandante Gringo

Is Bhattarai's Ph.D thesis available online possibly?


No, but it can be bought online for less than $25 here:

Search for author=Baburam Bhattarai

two books will pop up. His dissertation is Nature of Underdevelopment and Regional Structure of Nepal. The degree is technically in architecture, so there is a lot of spatial analysis.


The problem with 'real' stats is that we still have to largely rely on the bourgeoisie - just look at the citations in the wikipedia article. Until revolutionary communists have our own apparatus for gathering data, we have few other options. Obviously the CIA can't be trusted for political and class analysis, but it wouldn't make sense for them to lie about some of the other things you asked about, i.e., GNP, industry, crops, population, rainfall.

If the CIA factbook doesn't work for you, check the Library of Congress country guide. Otherwise we will have to wait until the CPN[M] releases their own research - assuming they disagree with official data.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Hot Shots