Ben Peterson on Nepal: This is Essentially an Anti-Maoist Coup
Posted by Mike E on May 5, 2009
We have been sharing Ben Peterson’s eyewitness reports from Kathmandu. Obviously we are not endorsing the analysis contained, but passing them on because of the importance of these events. We will be posting other views in the thread here. And will be post more detailed coverage on the South Asia Revolution site (SARev).
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The last 48 hours in Nepal has seen a flurry of activity and has created the illusion of a political situation has been rapidly changing.
While there has been a series of developments withing the parliament and within the government, and the alliances and support of different political parties has been removed and realigned- the essence of the political situation remains unchanged.
The real political situation has remained stagnant for some months now. The actual reality of the political situation is that there is a new revolutionary force with an overwhelming support amongst the people of Nepal is pushing to radically change the institutions of the Nation and to create a more developed and just society. Opposed to these changes are an elite minority within the established power structures that resisting this struggle by any means necessary. This was made abundantly clear on May 3rd when the ceremonial President went outside his constitutional role to defy the democratically elected government. In essence this was a coup. The rightful political power of the government was usurped by an unlawful and outside force. In response to this blatant illegal move, the revolutionary Prime Minister Prachanda, and the Maoist government chose to resign- rather then remain in a position where in reality they had no political power, despite a clear mandate from the people of Nepal and clear constitutional and political legitimacy.
The mainstream press will tell you that the current political crisis started 2 weeks ago when the revolutionary Maoist government asked for “clarification” from the Chief of Army Staff- the constitutional first step in removing him from his post. Instead of trying to provide a clarification and justification for his actions and disobedience of the government the CoAS Katawal questioned the right of the government to seek his clarification. For the next two weeks the Maoists tried frantically to gain support from the other political parties to take action against the CoAS for his repeated insubordination, but when this was not possible, they took actions themselves to remove General Katawal from his post- sparking protests from the opposition, and parties to resign from government, sparking the current political crisis. This does not tell the full story. The fact is that the Army had been disobeying the government for months. The budget was still largely unimplemented due to political resistance. Every move of the government was resisted and every decision was made impotent. The crisis is not one revolving around the question of the army, but a crisis due to the gap between the democratic government and the power they should legitimately hold.
The last few days has made perfectly clear to anyone watching Nepal the real balance of forces within the country. The elected government is in no position of power, even on a question as elementary to any democracy such as civilian control over the military. The real power brokers are 1) those in a position of power within the country. The bureaucrats, the military, the rich, ex-royals and the feudal land lords- largely grouped behind the political leadership of the Nepali Congress and 2) those international forces that wish to preserve the status quo in Nepal as it serves their interests, namely India and the United States of America. The established political parties are all firmly integrated into this system as well which the current political crisis clearly proves. The CPN(UML) while initially giving its approval to the government, backed down and joined the opposition under the pressure of these international forces.
This basic situation within Nepal is unchanged still today. Even though the Maoists have withdrawn from government, the basic and fundamental political situation in the country is that the great majority of Nepalis desperately want real and radical change, and the current political institutions are neither willing nor capable of fulfilling these demands. The form of this struggle has now changed, in light of the coup by the Nepali Congress President. The struggle now is outside of the government, and will be led by the struggle on the streets, and the struggle for the people in Nepal is for a meaningful government that is capable of bring about the changes that they demand.
These demands fly in direct contradiction to anyone in a position of power. The entire economic and political set up of Nepal is geared towards ensuring the dominance of international power centers and the local powers that do their bidding. Creating a Nepal that is truly democratic, and that will create real economic development within Nepal (and geared towards the whole people of Nepal- not just an elite) needs to go against this power structure. This struggle continues to be played out. The struggle now for the Maoists not just for government, but for meaningful power that can really start to build the New Nepal- and fulfill the modest dreams of the Nepali people- democracy, development, equality and justice.