Only after two days the talks between the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists had reached a blind alley. The meeting on Sunday and Tuesday failing to make any significant headway and ending inconclusively contrary to the hype generated by the parties and the Maoists before the talks that it might be over as soon as they sat at the table glaringly evidenced the naivety of the parties and the Maoists in gauging the cobweb of intricacies of political negotiations that is tied with arms, conflict and insurgency.
Before the talks, the parties were giving the impression that everything will be done with a twist of a finger.
Despite the claims of complete and thorough homework during informal talks within and among the SPA and between the SPA and the Maoists, the talks at the highest level failed to find accord and compromise on any of the issues. On important issues such as interim constitution, interim parliament, formation of interim government and most importantly the status of monarchy during and after the interim period.
Except for the only point they agreed Tuesday was to hold the election to the constituent assembly by May/June next year, they had nothing rosy to tell the press and the people. It was clear when they hurriedly walked out of the press conference without answering the many questions and queries of the press.
However, even the elections to the constitent assembly in seven or eight months time seems doubtful because the Nepal Sadhvabana Party, one of the factions of the SPA, and others, including groups that with overt support of India are launching campaigns for autonomous Terai, saying that they would first want to have all Terai people have citizenship papers followed by a census to update the voters’ list. This is a daunting task considering the time frame put by the parties for the constituent assembly elections. Then there is a real danger that in the haste of meeting the deadline the SPA government might give citizenships to both Nepalese, but more to non-Nepalese without relevant proof and documents.
The failure of the talks was already deduced, as the leaders of the political parties instead of facing journalists after the talks on Sunday exited in silence through the other gate. May be to save their shame, they could only issue a two-line press statement saying the talks discussed important issues and it was positive.
The second round of talks on Tuesday also ended inconclusively with the parties and the Maoists agreeing only on holding elections for the constituent assembly.
According to reports, Tuesday’s talks had focused on the management of arms and some said the Maoists and the SPA had even tried to put the Maoist militia and the Nepal army at par, which is totally irrelevant. However, nowhere during the talks the SPA had tried to put a curb on the Maoists’ spree of extortion, kidnapping and collecting taxes by brandishing weapons.
However, because of the intense pressure to conclude the talks as soon as possible, there is a high possibility that the SPA and the Maoists may make rash decisions only to rue it later on such as on the interim constitution, taking the Maoists into the government, management of arms and the position of the monarchy.
By S Kchetri