Former Maoist rebels are spreading fear and insecurity through intimidation, abductions, threats and extortion, and are responsible for the current political crisis, human rights workers and independent analysts told IRIN on 19 February.
“The [post-November 2006] peace process is becoming fragile due to constant violations by the Maoists,” said a prominent human rights worker, Subodh Raj Pyakhurel. He said fear was gripping civilians and that they lacked protection as Maoist-affiliated groups defied law and order.
With national Constituent Assembly (CA) elections due on 10 April, the Maoists have been sending chilling messages around the country that they will seize power if they do not win, according to local media reports.
Leading national newspapers have become critical of the Maoists’ “non-competitive” style of doing politics, saying it is a return to the tactics they adopted during their decade-long insurgency of 1996-2006.
Despite joining mainstream politics and the government in 2007, Maoist leaders have failed to deliver on their promise to abide by normal, competitive politics, according to local independent analysts.
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Maoists “acting like rebels”
“The Maoists are still acting like rebels and not like a responsible political group. Their leaders are members of parliament but cannot control their own party members who disrespect the rule of law,” said Pyakhurel. He said the Maoists were responsible for the present state of anarchy and lawlessness.
The Maoists signed a peace treaty with the Nepalese government (led by an alliance of seven national parties) in November 2006, giving rise to new hopes of rebuilding the nation, according to human rights groups.
“But 2007 only saw a series of violations of the peace agreement at the hands of the Maoist rebels,” said an independent analyst who preferred anonymity. He said the problems started after the creation of a new Maoist-affiliated group called the Young Communist League (YCL) which, he said, was responsible for most of the abductions, extortion and threats.
Other parties accuse Maoists
National political parties also accused the Maoists of violating the peace agreement and hampering the peace process.
“The Maoists have not improved their behaviour,” said Madhav Nepal, head of the Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) party, one of the country’s leading parties.
He said the rebels were intimidating other political parties, assaulting and abducting politicians and preventing them from peacefully campaigning in the elections.
Photo: Naresh Newar/IRIN
|Former Maoist rebels are accused of spreading fear and insecurity through intimidation, abductions, threats and extortion|
However, senior Maoist leaders deny any violations, saying other political parties could not abide seeing their support wane.
They said it was criminal groups, and not their party members, who were involved in extortion and abductions.
“We are committed to the CA elections. We will participate in the polls and we don’t want to miss the opportunity,” said Maoist chairman Prachanda at a mass meeting held recently in the capital.
Maoist leaders said that if there had been any truth in the allegations in the past, party members had now been told to stop any violations.
Media report abductions
However, local media continued to report abductions and people being forced to make “donations”, as during the armed conflict.
Local civilians and businessmen told IRIN YCL members were constantly issuing demands and making threats to get people to pay “donations and Maoist taxes”.
A recent report by the UN Secretary-General in January also said the Maoists had largely failed to curb the excesses of the YCL. It said this trend reinforced growing doubts within Nepal about the Maoists’ commitment to a peaceful negotiated solution.