Nepal Maoists threaten to quit government

December 8, 2008 12:00 am

, KATHMANDU, December 8 – Nepal’s Maoists Monday threatened to quit the government in a sign of worsening political deadlock in the newly republican Himalayan nation.

After just four months in office, the Maoists say the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress, is continuing to block their ambitious reform programme to a point where remaining in government is pointless.

Maoist officials said if the deadlock continued, Prime Minister Prachanda would step down and take his government with him — a move that would deal a major blow to Nepal’s peace process.

"It is useless for us to stay in the government if we, bereft of support, fail to work as per the aspirations of the people," Prachanda told reporters.

Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara told AFP: "Congress objects to everything we do or try to do. They don’t help us in government in any way, and when we try to do something, they create hurdles."

"We are trying to work with them, and make some changes on our side, but if Congress are not helpful, the deadlock will worsen," he said.

The Maoists ended their decade-long "people’s war" in 2006, won landmark elections in April and swiftly ended the world’s last Hindu monarchy.

They now want to push through sweeping land reforms and finalise the peace process by having their former rebel fighters — currently confined to United Nations-monitored camps — integrated into the national army.

But the army, a bastion of Nepal’s former ruling elite, says it does not want to open its ranks to the highly indoctrinated former rebels.

Nepal’s landed class have also been accused of stalling land reform.

"Land reform is very crucial for us," Baburam Bhattarai, the Maoists’ second-in-command told AFP in an interview late Sunday.

"A few big landlords control a huge quantity of land and the majority of poor people have very little. This has to be corrected. Land has to be redistributed."

But a Nepali Congress spokesman told AFP that the deadlock was the fault of the former rebels.

"It is the responsibility of the Maoists to gain the confidence of the other parties, but they are trying to follow their own path," Arjun Narsingh Khatri Chettri said.

He accused the Maoists of not fulfilling previous commitments, including ending the paramilitary structure of its feared youth wing and returning property they grabbed in the civil war that killed at least 13,000 people.

Some hardcore Maoists are seen as being reluctant to disband the force that helped get them into Kathmandu.

"The Young Communist League has not been reformed, seized properties have not yet been returned and displaced people are yet to return to their homes," the Nepali Congress spokesman said.

The Young Communist League is a vigilante-style group regularly accused of beatings, kidnappings, extortion and even murder.


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