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Insurgency in Nepal

2006

In February, 2006 King Gyanendra held municipal elections in a tense environment of fear and intimidation by both Maoists and the Nepalese Army alike. These elections were boycotted by all seven major political parties of Nepal as neither free nor fair and were seen by some observers as a strategic move by the King to shore up support for his government. If the elections were foiled by Maoists intervention, the King could label the Maoists as an anti-democratic force, and if the elections went off unimpeded, he could claim victory for his pre-selected candidates and his counter-insurgency strategy. The results were that the Maoists threatened to attack any one who ran for office while the Army reportedly forced some candidates not to withdraw. The subsequent elections were labeled "a backwards step for democracy in Nepal" by the EU. The municipal elections did little to subdue growing anti-monarchy sentiment in Nepal

In April 2006, following three weeks of protests, a second major people's movement for the restoration of democracy pressured the King to relinquish power. Fifteen demonstators were killed during the unrest. The movement was largely supported by the political parties excluded from government following the King's February 2005 suspension of the multi-party parliament. And on April 24, 2006, King Gyanendra reinstated the 1999 parliament that was dismissed in May 2002. Former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress Party was selected by the opposition seven-party alliance to again lead the government. The Maoists declared a three month unilateral ceasefire on April 26, 2006 and the new Koirala government announced its own ceasefire and plans for peace talks with the Maoist insurgents on May 3, 2006.

In May 2006, the Nepalese parliament stripped King Gyanendra of his role as Commander in Chief of the military. On 11 June 2006, the Parliament under the leadership of Prime Minister Koirala, voted unanimously to strip King Gyanendra of all parliamentary powers and effectively made him a figurehead. The parliment also removed the adjective "Royal" from numerous government organizations, including the army. These moves were seen as major steps towards peace with the Maoists who have favored a far weaker monarchy, if any at all.

On 16 June 2006, the Seven Party Alliance and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed "The Eight-Point Agreement" which laid out, in simple terms, the shared goals of both entities for the future. These goals included a commitment to democratic norms and values, multi-party elections and an eventual disarmament of all sides. While the agreement seemed to offer hope for peace in Nepal, the lack of details made the implementation of this agreement uncertain.

As of October 2006, the agreement had held firm and more comprehensive regotiations had resumed. The key topics of discussion were Maoist disarmament and Maoist political participation. As of 16 October 2006, no formal agreement had been reached.

On 7 November, the government and rebels reached an agreement for a peace deal that would have the rebels disarm under UN supervision and then join a transitional government by 1 December. The status of the Nepalese monarchy would be decided by an assembly to be elected in 2007. On 28 November, the disarmament accord was officially signed.

By 11 December, the peace process was in danger of falling apart as rebels had not yet been allowed into the government. The government blocked the rebels because their disarmament was not yet complete. In response, the rebels said that the peace process would be “at risk” if a new government was not formed within one week. The United Nations, which was responsible for overseeing disarmament, told both parties that the original timetable was too ambitious and that more time was necessary to finish its program. There was little hope that the disarmament could be completed in time. The first contingent of 35 monitors was expected to be in place in two weeks.

On 13 December, proceedings seemed back on track as the government and rebels began talks on a new constitution. Once again, the main issue of contention was the status of the monarchy under a new government. Although the talks were inconclusive, an agreement was made to extend them.



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