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Maoists won't support govt unless Nepal declared republic

Sep 19, 2007 02:05 AM IST India India

New Delhi: They met and they agreed to differ, but not before four of Prachanda's party colleagues — also ministers in the G P Koirala government quit the cabinet. The Maoists were making good on their threat to pull out of the government should Prime Minister Koirala not accede to two key demands out of the 22 made by Prachanda. The Maoists had wanted Nepal to be declared a republic before 22 November's Constituent Assembly polls and had demanded a switch over to a proportional system of representation — a system which would help them gain more seats in the Constituent Assembly. Within hours of the resignations, Kathmandu witnessed familiar scenes — a show of strength by Maoist cadres and sympathisers. Thousands gathered at major intersections in the city to make their way towards a grand mass rally, a rally planned weeks ago. The rally was addressed by Prachanda's deputy, Baburam Bhattarai, who declared that the fight for a republic would now be fought on the streets of Nepal. But even though the marriage may be over, there are enough signs that a divorce isn't imminent. Prachanda's absence did not go unnoticed. Also Bhattarai did not dump the ceasefire or the peace process; he did not announce the resignations from Parliament of the 83 Maoist members; and he did not declare a boycott of the November elections. Clearly, Prachanda has left open room for some hectic, behind the scenes negotiations and Monday's grandstanding is unlikely to bring the curtain down on Nepal's fragile peace process.