A peace deal in Nepal (Economist Intelligence Unit, Nov 10th 2006)
Nepal’s Maoist rebels and the ruling alliance of seven political parties have reached a breakthrough agreement that paves the way for the Maoists’ participation in an interim government, before the election of a Constituent Assembly (CA) next year. Important concessions have been made by both sides with regard to disarming the rebels and deciding the future role of the monarchy. However, there are still many obstacles on the road to constitutional reform—not least uncertainty over the Maoists’ willingness to co-operate within a democratic system.
There is real hope that the agreements reached in the early hours of November 8th will mark the end of the Maoists’ decade-long insurgency to replace Nepal’s constitutional monarchy with a communist republic. The conflict has cost an estimated 13,000 lives. There is also hope that the accord will be sufficiently robust to allow the process of constitutional reform to get under way. Progress on this goal is obviously dependent on the establishment of a lasting peace. Several rounds of negotiations to this end have been held since April, when the autocratic king, Gyanendra, was forced by popular protest to hand power to a multi-party government. But the issues of disarming the Maoist guerrillas and deciding what to do with the king have been major stumbling blocks until now.