Ten years of people’s war in Nepal, led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M)), has resulted in triumph, with a historic peace agreement being signed on 21 November 2006 in Kathmandu between the CPN(M) on the one hand and the Seven-Party Alliance, which has formed the Nepalese government since King Gyanendra was forced to abandon his absolute rule and restore the House of Representatives in April, on the other hand.
Under this agreement, Nepal’s current House of Representatives is dissolved and is replaced by an interim legislature with effect from 1 December. In this government, of 330 seats, 73 will go to the CPN(M) and 85 to the Nepali Congress Party, the rest being held by smaller parties. Government will be conducted by a Council of Ministers constituted ‘on the basis of political agreement’.
The interim government is charged with preparing elections for a Constituent Assembly to take place by mid-June 2007. This assembly will consist of 425 delegates, of whom 205 will be elected on the first-past-the-post system and 204 on the basis of proportional representation. The Maoists are confident of gaining at least 50 percent of the votes in these elections and, if they do indeed prove to be the largest party, then a Maoist cadre will become president.
However, in the interests of maintaining as much unity as possible during the period of dismantling Nepal’s remaining feudal institutions, the CPN(M) has committed itself to multi-party (ie, bourgeois) democracy. In practice, this means that not only the Nepalese working class and peasantry but also its national bourgeoisie, and perhaps other exploiter sections, will be represented in Nepal’s new government, although the likelihood is that the Maoists will have overall control.
Assuming that all parties abide by their promises, the next few months will see a fundamental democratisation of Nepalese society. Clause 11 of the peace agreement commits all the signatories (ie, the seven parties of the alliance as well as the CPN(M)) as follows:
“a) Steps will be geared towards dismantling all dictatorial structures and a common programme will be implemented through mutual consensus among all parties.
“b) Policies will be formulated to end unequal ownership of land and a scientific land reform policy will be implemented.
“c) Policies that protect national industries and means of production will be adopted.
“d) Policies aimed at ensuring the rights of all citizens to education, health, shelter and employment will be adopted.
“e) Policies that will provide assistance to the economically backward classes including the ex-Kamaiyas, landless squatters, and household farm workers will be implemented.
“f) Policies that punish those found involved in corruption and those amassing wealth through illegal means will be enforced.
“g) A common agenda will be worked out for the speedy economic and social transformation of the country.
“h) Efforts will be directed towards increasing investments in the domestic industrial sector by protecting the rights of the industrial workers and those involved in various productive enterprises.”
It is apparent that this democratic programme is at the same time both anti-feudal and anti-imperialist. It has only been possible to establish it as a basis of government action in Nepal by the most arduous struggle on the part of the Nepali masses.
Nepal’s feudal rulers, backed to the hilt by US and British imperialism, spared no cruelty or violence in their efforts to stamp out the people’s movement for liberation by sheer brute force. It was only when they were utterly defeated by the rising tide of people’s war that they called a truce and agreed to negotiate with the revolutionaries.
The Maoists in the meantime had seized control of 80 percent of Nepalese territory, where they introduced extensive democratic reforms, as well as social and land redistribution programmes that secured for the liberation movement the undying support of the masses of the Nepalese people. This channelling of wealth away from the propertied classes for the benefit of the propertyless masses is considered by imperialism the grossest possible breach of human rights, but it is the basis of the support of the downtrodden Nepalese masses for the revolution.
Ultimately, seeing that the policy of unleashing unbridled bestiality as a means of defeating the CPN(M) was totally counterproductive, since it was only succeeding in driving ever-increasing numbers of workers and peasants to side with the revolution, imperialism extremely reluctantly decided to withdraw its support from Nepal’s King Gyanendra and the reactionary feudal class whose interests he represented.
Gyanendra was forced to bow to popular pressure and abandon his absolute rule. Parliament was restored, and the way was laid open for this historic peace accord of 21 November.
Of course, as far as the peace agreement is concerned, imperialism has allowed concessions to be made to the Maoists in the hope of being able to find some way of halting the forward march of the Nepalese masses. Imperialism and its various Nepalese allies and flunkeys remain as determined to halt the movement as the CPN(M) is to keep it surging forward. In the months ahead, these forces will inevitably confront each other.
It is quite clear that the CPN(M) has a popular mandate to implement the peace agreement, especially clause 11 quoted above. It has insisted that the monarchy has to go and that Nepal must become a republic, and it is more than likely that this will be implemented, although the Nepalese Congress Party is pressing for the king to retain a ‘ceremonial’ role as head of state. In any event, all royal property is going to be nationalised and used for the benefit of the Nepalese people.
Imperialist multinationals seeking to do business in Nepal will no longer be allowed to impose any terms they want. The CPN(M) has already organised many actions that have forced imperialist operations, such as Coca Cola, to retreat from the scene. It is currently, through an affiliated workers’ union, putting pressure on a German consortium building the country’s largest hydroelectric project drastically to improve the conditions of its workers, which the Germans will be forced to concede if they want to keep their contract.
There are those who worry that the peace agreement contains concessions to the reactionary forces that could hamper or even hobble the CPN(M) in future confrontations with the reactionary classes and their imperialist backers.
There are, for instance, provisions requiring the Maoists to confine their combatants to specified camps. The Royal Nepalese Army will be required to confine a like number of troops to barracks – but the RNA is very much larger than the Liberation Army. Who would defend the people if the RNA is let loose upon them?
Both the RNA and the Liberation Army are to decommission equal quantities of weapons by locking them up in an alarmed warehouse, under UN auspices. Again, that would leave the RNA with a huge surplus of weapons that they are not required to lock up. Besides, will the UN not allow the RNA to run amok while forcing the Liberation Army to stand helplessly by?
There is even talk of Gyanendra staging a coup. Could it be that the various reactionary forces, backed by imperialism and the UN, would take advantage of the Maoists laying down their arms to restore their reactionary rule throughout the country?
These are considerations, however, that will not have escaped the calculations of the CPN(M) leadership. Any attempt to deprive the masses of the democratic reforms which they are now expecting to see implemented without fail would be simply doomed.
Any breach of the agreement would release the Maoist combatants from their duty to stay under UN supervision in the camps, and they would re-arm themselves rapidly even as the alarms went crazy, quite apart from which it is not just combatants but most of the population itself that would rise up to defend the gains of the revolution.
Of course, these are dangerous times, but for our part we feel sure that the leadership of the CPN(M) which has so successfully charted the path of the Nepalese revolution through extremely dangerous and stormy conditions thus far, will not find itself short of resources for dealing with all the plots and plans of the reactionaries.
Every action taken by the reactionaries to kill off the progressive movement has only ended up strengthening it, and, with a tried and tested revolutionary leadership in Nepal, we have no reason to suppose that this trend will not continue.