China scale gets heavier in Nepal

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Thursday, October 21, 2010

KATHMANDU - Despite Nepal’s ruling parties and the opposition Maoists saying they want to keep equidistance from their two neighbours, India and China, the China scale has begun to grow heavier once again with several high-level official as well as personal visits to the communist republic.

While Nepal’s peace process remains in the doldrums with the former Maoist guerrillas refusing to disband their underground army, nearly a dozen “commanders” of their People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and lawmakers are on a nine-day visit to China.

These include two former deputy chiefs of the PLA, Barsha Man Pun Ananta and Janardan Sharma Prabhakar.

Both are sitting Maoist MPs while Sharma is also the former Maoist peace and reconstruction minister.

Ananta’s wife Onsari Ghartimagar, also a Maoist lawmaker, is member of the team that includes PLA spokesman Chandra Prakash Khanal Baldev.

The Nagarik daily, which broke the news Thursday, said that though the Maoist party said the 11 were on a personal visit, they had met officials of the Communist Party of China as well as Chinese army officials in Beijing and Shanghai.

Both Ananta and Prabhakar are members of the special committee that was formed to facilitate the disbanding of the PLA. With the two Maoist MPs on “vacation”, the special committee has not met even though time is running out for Nepal.

The delay is worrying the UN that is involved in the peace process.

After Nepal’s ruling parties and the Maoists signed a peace agreement in 2006 to end the decade-old communist insurgency, the UN was asked to help by monitoring the arms and combatants of the Nepal Army as well as the PLA.

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the UN agency mandated to monitor both the forces, is to exit Nepal after Jan 15, 2011, and a concerned UN has been repeatedly asking Nepal to speed up the discharge of the PLA.

This month, the UN sent its Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, to Nepal to assess if there was any headway.

While briefing the UN Security Council on his return from the visit, Pascoe said Nepal needed swift action to overcome the political impasse and meet the January deadline.

UNMIN chief Karin Landgren met Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Thursday to urge him to reach a quick consensus with the ruling parties and end the nearly four-month-long political deadlock.

Nepal remains without a government since June when Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was forced to resign due to Maoist pressure.

Since then, the parties have been unable to elect a new premier despite 12 rounds of election. Now the Maoists, the largest party in parliament, have threatened to prevent the caretaker government from tabling the new budget.

The threat to plunge Nepal into a dire financial crisis is a pressure tactic to make the ruling parties support the Maoists form a new government under their leadership. The Maoists have also threatened not to discharge the PLA till their demand is met.

While the peace process languishes, Prachanda is heading towards China Friday for his fourth visit in two years.

He was invited by the Chinese government to attend the Shanghai Expo 2010.

Nepal’s Vice-President Parmananda Jha also leaves for the Shanghai Expo Thursday while President Ram Baran Yadav will go end of this month.

Filed under: Politics

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