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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2730

Maoists block Nepal Home Minister's visit to India: India-Nepal extradition treatyy to be delayed

By M Rama Rao - Reporting from New Delhi

New Delhi 04 0ctober ( Nepal Home Minister Krishna Prasad Situala has cancelled his scheduled visit to Delhi 'for the time being'. He was to be here to sign an updated India-Nepal extradition treaty and an agreement on mutual legal assistance on Oct 5.

No reason has been given officially for the cancellation. Only a cryptic communiqué was sent to the Indian High Commissioner in Kathmandu that the visit which was due to begin on Wednesday stands cancelled for the present.

Reports from Kathmandu quoting government sources say that Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has 'agreed' to a request from Maoist chairman Prachanda to defer the signing of the treaty for some time. It is said the Maoist supreme asked Koirala to put on hold the signing of the treaty until the summit talks slated for October 08.

The existing extradition treaty is fifty years old and is found inadequate to deal with present day problems like drug and human trafficking along the 1,700 km long 'open' border between the two countries. Both sides had set into motion the revision of the treaty about two years ago. Nepal India Transit Treaty was renewed on Friday for the next seven years.

A conjecture on why Situala has cancelled the Delhi visit is that it is the fall-out of the 'uncertainty' created by the postponement of the 'summit talks' with the Maoist leadership. The summit was scheduled for Friday last but was postponed at the eleventh hour with no apparent agreement in the ruling alliance on the modalities of 'disarming' the Maoists. It is likely to take place on Oct 8 but the negotiators for both sides, namely Maoists and the government, admit that the 'way ahead still seems quite difficult and time-consuming'. Krishna Prasad Situala is heading the team of government negotiators.

The problem is 'the nine-point secret proposal' presented by Maoists as their "bottom-line". Not surprisingly a senior leader of the ruling alliance has admitted, "There are still wide differences on crucial issues, and settlement of all issues is unlikely even in the upcoming proposed talks."

Maoist Demand: The Maoists are insisting that the interim legislature should incorporate 45 percent members of seven-party alliance, 35 percent Maoists and 20 percent members of civil society.

Their second demand, which has no takers from the ruling alliance, is that the Maoist militia and Nepal Police should form a joint mechanism to hold constituent assembly elections. Maoists are not hiding their aversion for the Palace and are saying that the monarchy should be suspended until constituent assembly election is held. They also want a referendum on monarchy along with constituent assembly polls and nationalization of royal assets.

On the issue of 'army', the Maoists have proposed a high-level military commission "to control both armed forces". They want to retain their Kangaroo courts at the village level.

Proportional representation system, dissolution of both the Houses of Parliament after interim legislature is formed, and setting up of 'joint committees' of the government and Maoists at the village level are amongst their other demands besides a pronounced pro-poor tilt in the socio-economic policies..

Koirala Stand: Nepali Congress is not in favour of holding a referendum on the future of the Palace along with the assembly election. Prime Minister Koirala is credited with the view that referendum would 'unnecessarily reactivate the now-passive king' and gives him a 'pretext to seek a role in politics based on the votes cast in his favour'.

Both with in the NC and most other constituents of the seven party alliances, the Maoist demand that their militia and the army should work together has caused serious misgivings. Firstly, their point is that the Maoist militia is a partisan force and hence should have no role during elections to ensure a free and fair ballot. Secondly, Maoists have not endeared themselves with their continued recruitment, extortions, kidnappings and killing spree.

Local media reports say that the intensified donation drive launched by Maoists has unleashed a reign of terror in the districts like Sankhuwasaba. Various Maoist wings claim they are collecting "donation" as their party is under huge debt burden of some five million rupees. Those collecting donations include 'District People's Government', 'Peoples' Liberation Army' and 'Kirat District People's Government'

The Maoists are also unhappy with the stand taken by the United States that armed groups should not be allowed to stay in the political process. A spokesperson of the Maoists, Krishna Bahadur Mahara termed as 'a totally against unnecessary interventions in the political matters of Nepal' and asked Washington to remove the Nepali Maoists from the list of terrorists.

"We demand that the US withdraw (us) from the list of terrorists at the soonest," said Mahara, who is also the coordinator of Maoist team for talks with the government.

- Asian Tribune -

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