Even as he is confident that the new Nepalese Constitution would be ready by the targeted date of May 28, Premier Madhav Kumar Nepal has said if the process is not completed in due time, the entire blame will lie on Maoists who need to give up their “extreme” thinking.
Mr. Nepal also said the integration of former Maoists in the army was the most delicate part of the peace process as it was essential to ensure neutrality of the armed forces.
“There are four-and-a-half months left (for Constitution drafting). I have been a member of the Constitution drafting committee in 1990 when Constitution was drafted in three months. If it was possible then, why not in 2010,” the Prime Minister told PTI in an interview here.
He, however, noted that “time is very short” and instead of spending time on talks, there was need to move forward practically.
“Maoists are aware of complications. They have to take into consideration that it is they who raised the issue of Constituent Assembly elections and drafting of Constitution.”
“If it is not done in due time, then the whole blame will be on Maoists,” Mr. Nepal said adding, “That is why they will have to cooperate. They will have to give up extreme Left thinking.”
He said Maoists will have to “transform themselves so that people can believe that they are civil political party which has no private army, that they are democratic party observing democratic norms and values. Without that they cannot win the trust of people.”
“Maoists must be sensitive to the timeliness and attitude of people,” the Nepalese Prime Minister emphasised.
“If they talk of rebellion, capture of power or single-party monopoly, then people will think they still believe in authoritarianism. If they believe in authoritarianism and create chaos, then they will not be trusted by anyone,” Mr. Nepal said.
According to the peace agreement between the mainstream parties and Maoists, the new Constitution has to be promulgated by May 28. However, there is a provision for six-month extension which will have to be approved by the Parliament.
There are still two issues unresolved -- governance and federalism, Nepal said, adding if these are settled, the Constitution can be finalised. “I am hopeful and positive, it can be done.”
Describing integration of former Maoists in the army as the “most delicate part”, he said, “problems may come up (in this process).”
Mr. Nepal said the government was keen to ensure that army remains neutral and professional and there is no interference.
“The character of the army cannot be changed... So those wanting to be integrated will have to declare that they have no more affiliations with anyone.... Those (Maoists) should declare that they will not change the character of the army,” Mr. Nepal said.
On paper, there are 19000 former Maoist combatants confined to camps under UN supervision and arms are still there and yet to be destroyed or submitted.
Nepal said he made some proposals for management of combatants. These are -- those willing to join politics will have to leave camps, those wanting to be rehabilitated have options of studies, training, credit, self-employment and shops inside and outside the country.
There would be three requirements for those willing to integrate with security organisations -- the number of those to be integrated, whether all those willing to be integrated fulfil the criteria and thirdly who gets priority -- women, dalits or madhesis -- “so that the army is seen as inclusive institution where all have participation”, he said.
“This needs to be decided by parties before selection.”
To accomplish the task of management of combatants, the mandate of UNMIN has been extended till May 15, 2010, Mr. Nepal said.
Disagreeing with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s assessment that the peace process was on the brink of collapse, Mr. Nepal said, “It is not at point of break... We should not come to conclusion that the peace process is at break or collapse.”
He said the peace process might have seen ups and downs and “We might face difficulties and obstacles but this has been the case earlier also.”
“People here are responsible, parties are responsible. We have experience of dealing with ups and downs,” he said.