On 3 January 2008, a landslide vote in favour of declaring Nepal a democratic federal republic once more broke the political deadlock there in favour of the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist forces.
After months of sabotage aimed at undermining support for the democratic demands of 2006’s April mass movement, the reactionaries have been outmanoeuvred and isolated once again – largely due to the superior tactics and far-sightedness of the Maoist leadership.
In the year and a half since the Nepalese people took to the streets calling for an end to the hated and oppressive feudal autocracy, the popular demands for the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a constituent assembly elected via a system of proportional representation have been most consistently and ably represented by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
Although a clear mandate was given by the ten-year people’s war and the April mass movement to reform the electoral system, call elections for the planned new assembly and declare a republic as soon as possible, neither the elections nor the republic were forthcoming, as some of the more backward elements within the provisional government, along with forces of the deposed king and his army, worked away to undermine confidence in the Maoists and to engender splits among the anti-feudal masses.
Alongside the prevarication of the compromising parties has been outright sabotage by royalist and imperialist agents, who have been, amongst other things, encouraging secessionist movements in order to split the democratic movement and to create chaos in the country that could be used as an excuse for the continual postponement of elections.
The lack of progress achieved by the multi-party provisional government caused Maoist ministers to resign last September, declaring that if a way could not be found through parliament then they would declare a republic from the streets and return to the armed struggle. Negotiations continued, however, and, following the recent parliamentary vote in favour of the new constituent assembly declaring a republic at its first session, the Maoists have rejoined the government.
The vote in parliament, which was won by a massive majority of 270 to three, with 48 abstentions, followed the signing of a new 23-point accord by the alliance of six anti-feudal parliamentary parties and the Maoists on 23 December 2007.
As well as the agreement to constitute Nepal a republic as soon as the constituent assembly should meet, the accord reached a compromise on the electoral system to be used, involving a mix of first-past-the-post and proportionally-elected representatives. While not the complete proportional system that the Maoists are still working towards, nevertheless this is significant progress in the right direction.
This latest victory for the anti-feudal forces is by no means the end of the story. Both royalist and imperialist agents are still at work in the country, and will no doubt be redoubling their efforts to prevent the elections from taking place – or to rig the outcome if they do.
We are confident, however, that, having come so far, the Nepali masses will not allow defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory, and will be able to see through the words and actions of the reactionary forces. We wish them every success in fighting for the complete overthrow of the old feudal autocracy and the establishment of a new democratic republic – through whatever means necessary.