Nepal Maoists end first post-war convention
KATHMANDU (AFP): The head of Nepal’s ruling Maoists on Friday pledged that the country was headed towards elections after he cemented his position as leader at the end of the party’s biggest post-revolutionary meeting.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known as Prachanda, was returned as party chairman at the Maoists general convention which was designed to reaffirm their commitment towards democracy after successfully toppling the monarchy in 2008.
“We have successfully concluded our convention. Now, the country will head towards elections for parliament,” Prachanda told delegates gathered in the southern industrial town of Hetauda.
“As chairman of our party, I will use all my strength to steer the party and the country in a new direction,” he added.
The Maoists waged a 10-year civil war which ended in 2006 before they then came to power two years later in elections for an interim assembly.
However in-fighting, including a split in the party last year, has confounded efforts to draw up a post-war constitution spelling out how Nepal should be run as a modern, democratic republic.
The interim assembly was dissolved in May last year and elections promised for November were shelved amid quarrelling among the main parties over who should lead a national unity government into the vote.
The Maoists now lead Nepal as the major partner in a fragile caretaker coalition that is carrying out the most essential tasks of government but has no popular mandate to make fundamental policy decisions.
During the convention, Prachanda proposed that the chief justice be appointed prime minister at the end of another interim administration that could then lead the country towards fresh elections in a bid to end Nepal’s political deadlock.
In the inaugural session on Saturday, which was attended by thousands of party supporters, Prachanda said his party would never again take up arms in a bid to assuage opposition critics who are sceptical of the Maoists’ intentions.
The convention was due to wrap up on Wednesday but went two days over schedule, the delay believed to have been caused by internal leadership disputes.
The former rebels are scheduled to hold a mass rally in Kathmandu on Tuesday to formally close the convention and to mark the 17th anniversary of their ‘People’s War’ in which 16,000 people were killed.