September 8, 2012
The United States on Thursday removed Nepal's ruling Maoist party, which after a bloody, decade-long insurgency now heads a caretaker government, from its blacklist of terrorist organizations – this after almost a decade as a designated global terrorist body.
The delisting means that US organizations and companies can now conduct business with the Maoist leadership, and any property or interests that were frozen in the United States are no longer blocked.
But fresh testimony given in a New Delhi court implicates Nepal’s Maoist prime minister in a tawdry murder case, bringing into question the sagacity of the US State Department’s decision for leniency.
According to Yubaraj Ghimire, reporting in yesterday’s The Indian Express:
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has landed in a fresh controversy as one of his closest political followers and a murder accused has testified before a court that he was hiding in Delhi under the instructions of the Prime Minister.
Nabaraj Basnet, a Maoist leader from eastern Nepal’s Okhaldhunga district, told the district court on Wednesday that he was living in Delhi for the past two years as Bhattarai had asked him to look for a safer hideout since police was looking for him in a murder case. In his statement recorded by the court, Basnet said Gopal Kirati, a former minister under Bhattarai and Balkrishna Dhungel, a Maoist central committee member, had asked him to kill one Chhabi Karki, a rival politician, in the district long after the Maoists joined the peace process.
Bhattarai is already facing a controversy after he threw his weight behind Dhungel, a murder convict, and protected him from being arrested and disqualified as a member of the Nepal constituent assembly.
Basnet’s surrender has added teeth to the opposition attack on the Prime Minister, which is clamoring for his resignation.
What was the reasoning behind the State Department’s lifting of terrorist label?
"At the time of the designations, the CPN(M) was engaged in a violent war with the Nepalese government," a State Department official told Agence France Press.
The party's "terrorist activities resulted in the death or disappearance of thousands of Nepali citizens, and resulted in the murder of two US embassy security guards."
More recently, however, it "has participated in democratic elections, has taken steps to dismantle its capability to conduct terrorist activities, and has demonstrated a credible commitment to pursuing the peace and reconciliation process in Nepal as the current head of Nepal's coalition government.”
The Maoists are now running the country as a "caretaker" government with no parliament and no real mandate after the legislature was dissolved when, despite years of wrangling, the political leaders failed to meet a May deadline to write a new peacetime constitution.
Nepal's Election Commission has also said it lacks a legal framework to hold elections which had been promised for November.
"Even six years after the political process began, Nepal's political culture remains tumultuous," State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told journalists on Thursday.
"We continue to urge all parties to express their views peacefully, in accordance with Nepali law."
It was also clarified that both factions of the party following its June split had been de-listed. (The Mohan Vaidya ‘Kiran’-led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, which split from the parent party in June, has threatened to launch a struggle — and armed revolt “if necessary” — if their demands are not met. LINK HERE FOR DETAILS)