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General Strike: End Political Deadlock of Nepal

International Labor Day this year was fouled by a crude general strike in Nepal, which was declared by the opposition Maoist Party. In the beginning, it was seen as a peaceful and disciplined movement. However, it is being unexpectedly longer.

Public patience is running out, poor are forced to live without food, sick people are being barred from treatment. People are not allowed to work. The majority have crises to solve with day-to-day, hand-to-mouth problems. Public movement, economic transactions and transportation are in a state of frost. Human rights and fundamental rights have been kyboshed. General life and its activities are totally stopped. Even humanitarian emergency activities are suspended due to the general strike around the nation.

Everything seems out of order. The public’s patience has died and seems uncontent to have this general strike. Generally, people have started the war against the strike both inside and outside of the valley. People came on the road to confront Maoist cadres and its supporters. Peace rallies are also being held across the nation in initiation of various professional and commercial organizations.

The direct and indirect confrontational activities are being more & more violent, so the state has ordered curfews to counter possible causalities in various districts. The numbers of equipped security personnel have heightened to riposte the general strike of Maoist.

The fourth, fifth and sixth day of the general strike were dreadful to observe and accounted for lots of incidents of confrontation between Maoist supporters and others in various valleys and cities across the country. Moreover, the government has also decided to use the army for protection of special areas and places in accordance with comprehensive peace accord. In this regards, the representatives of ruling political parties and opposition Maoist leaders have held series of dialogues in luxurious hotels to end the political deadlocks; however results of the efforts were not found until now.

The diplomatic and international community have also put huge pressure and interventional efforts on both government and Maoists. India and China have already expressed and used their open concerns and diplomatic therapy against the ongoing deadly political situation. The UN, US and EU are continuing their special efforts to address the standstill. They are keeping up continuous pressure on both parties to find quick common ground for political consensus. However, these efforts have not yet been effective.

Consequently, the length of the general strike is being increased while at the same time, the state of topsy-turvydom is adding up out of the blue. There are dual interpretations of the ongoing general strike. Maoists explain it is held to achieve the motto of the comprehensive peace accord, to obtain a new constitution within deadlines and to constitute legitimate multi party consensus government under the prime ministership of Maoist leader Mr. Prachanda. The second viewpoint is that the government and its ruling coalition claims that the general strike is unethical, undemocratic and unconstitutional. They contend it is just being held to change the prime minister, and ruling leaders claim the hidden goal of the strike is to just establish Maoist party’s’ chairman Mr. Puspa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda as prime minister of Nepal, and the party as a major pillar of government.

The ruling party also accuse Maoists of wanting to put the nation into chaos and plotting to boot out the exiting democratic forces from political mainstream. They want to capture overall state functions and functionaries into captivity with muscle, and integrate its former political combatants into state’s defense and security mechanism without following the national and international rules and standards.

Furthermore, democratic forces blame Maoists of acting beyond the constitution and rules of law. Government blames the opposition Maoist party as neither respecting the constitutional provisions nor paying honest attention towards the comprehensive peace accord. Hence, the practices and performances of constitutional assembly have become totally defunct and the execution of comprehensive peace accord is paralyzed. Simply stated, currently the overall state affair e.g. constitution assembly, cabinet, peace process etc, are out of whack and jeopardized.

Before beginning, and after enforcement of the ongoing general strikes, there have been series of meetings and dialogues between Maoist parties and representatives of ruling parties to win common ground for political consensus. However, both parties have not yet found any common grounds, which is an opprobrious and clear proof of their incapability. It has openly proved the deficits of the involved politicians.

Maoists believe that power is taken, not given anywhere in the world, so, they will take power and acquire all their demands. Ruling parties say that this viewpoint will only happen in their dreams. The government and its coalition parties won’t compromise at all in the legitimate constitutional process.

The road is not a way to remove the prime minister, and the existing prime minister will not resign at all till he is removed through due constitutional process. Hence, the state of differences seems enormous between the parties. It is rib-tickling to imagine both parties sitting to talk and looking for gentle negotiation without compromising their slanted need and demand.

Strategically, the ruling parties have requested Maoists to come through constitutional assembly, if they seek to change the government, rather than general strike or other means that may be painful to people. The Government has also repeatedly requested them to fulfill at least the minimum degree of former commitments before getting the resignation of prime minister Mr. Nepal. Minimum commitments include transforming the young communist league (YCL) from paramilitary force to democratic student wings or its desolation, suitable integration and management of ex-Maoist combatants, giving back of seized and captured properties to its true owners without any condition and fully free and transform the Maoist party from militant or paramilitary groups into civil parties. In addition, ruling parties are also asking to stop force donation culture, devastation of parallel government system, stop criminal activities and all activities that are against the norms of democracy and rule of law.

Surprisingly, beside the series of meetings and dialogues there has been no progresses at all. Of course, the Maoists and the government both have plenty of weaknesses, and both parties are not able to honestly enforce the previous commitments and agreed issues in accordance with national need and corresponding political roadmap.

The first series of five dialogues and meetings failed because of the autarchy nature and anarchical characteristics of the confronting parties and its leaders. Both of the parties are putting forward their logic while ignoring the sensitivity of political deadlocks. Both parties are not found serious enough about public and national interests. Neither of the leaders have been able to achieve peace or a constitution in due time.

So, representatives of both teams are not found technically sound. In public eyes, both groups are crazy to capture the cabinet, but they do not foresee the impacts of the ongoing political chaos. Therefore, both parties must rethink and reorganize their representatives, and strategic ways for peaceful dialogue, putting the people and national interest into center-focus. They must come above its political and individual selfishness respecting the mandate of general people’s movement, sprit of constitutional assembly and comprehensive peace accord.

Specially, to get true success of peaceful dialogue, the negotiation team must take authorized consent from the respective parties, mentioning clearly about the degree of flexibility along with efficient roadmap, which may able to bring the parties into easy consensus. There are also difficulties and conflict of interest among inter-intra parties and leaders, so, the governments’ representatives must participate as valued observers during the pre-ongoing and post dialogue phases to resolve the crisis constructively. Equally, the dialogue team must be inclusive and should incorporate the representation of all parliamentarian forces with new ideas and approaches, otherwise out-dated models and traditional political leaders will not be able to reach a peaceful destination as expected by general public of Nepal.

Both parties must be liberal and compromise in political consensus. Specially, it is important to execute first the previous agreements and commitments duly. Both government and opposition should stop ignoring previous commitments and agreements.

All political parties should practice the philosophy of constitutionalism and rule of law until it works. They must sit together in parliament/ or constitution assembly for necessary dialogues and systematic negotiation. Both parties may also use the system of high-level political mechanism for the purpose. They should also include more, or invite other relevant leading leaders from the respective parties, government and independent personalities from civil society and others necessary groups.

Politicians must understand the needs and interests of the nation and its people, otherwise anarchic and autocratic politicians and parties will gradually collapse as happened in past regimes. Nepalese people want long-lasting freedoms from all types of political confrontation and conflicts. Nepalese are peace-loving people and want to see peace, peace and more peace, so all should stop all types of violence, strikes and political confrontations from their political paths and strategies.

Mr. Krishnahari Pushkar writes about social issues, security and conflict management, often in relation to Nepal. An Under Secretary of Government in Nepal, he is well honored as a Peace, Security and Conflict Management Professional, who contributes regularly to national and international nongovernmental organizations as a peace and conflict management expert.

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