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Nepal: `We call on progressive and leftist forces of the world to support us'

Rally in support of Nepal's Maoists.

Kathmandu -- On April 2, 2009, Lal Salam's Ben Peterson -- a socialist activist visiting from Australia -- had the opportunity to interview Suresh Kumar Ale Magar, who is an elected member of Nepal's Constituent Assembly and a militant of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

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``We see the policies and the struggle of the people in Venezuela, Bolivia and the Latin American countries against imperialism, particularly against US imperialism... I strongly believe that in the future that there could be an international anti-imperialist organisation, of which those countries would be a major part.''

So you are a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). How long have you been part of the Maoist movement?

The Maoist movement? About 30 years, three decades.

That's a considerable amount of time. So you were with the party throughout the People's War period?

When I joined the movement it was not the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), it was named at that time the Communist Party of Nepal (Masal). But later there were many separations, separate factions and then we became the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). After the reintegration of the CPN (Masal) and the CPN (Maoist), the party is now the Unified CPN (Maoist).

You were elected to the Constituent Assembly in the first past the post system?(1)

Yes.

From which district?

From constituency number one Tanahun district.

There has been a lot of talk from the party leadership about leading the revolution from the government, this is very new and a very different tactic, and it is a very different tactic to the People's War, which went for over 10 years. The tactics of the party have changed, but have the overall goals and aims of the party changed as well?

No, the overall goal of the party has not changed at all and shall not ever change. Our ultimate goal will remain the same, of course there will be different tactics, tactical change. This is what we have done in the context of Nepal. No revolution ever repeats, revolutions can be developed after taking into account the particular context, the particular situation in a society. We need a Marxist and Leninist model for the particular context of Nepal. That's what we need to develop. We have to chart a new path, a new phase.

That's what we have done, and our vision is that in our revolution the reactionaries of Nepal are trapped in a very critical situation. Because of the contradictions between them they had to change sides, and because of our interpretation of the contradictions in the reactionary classes, one group of the reactionary class was compelled to make a kind of compromise or coalition (with the revolutionaries).

Certain parliamentary parties were compelled to do so because of the autocratic rule of the then monarchy of King Gyanendra. This is what happened and this is why we had to refine our practices in this way. There were elections to the Constituent Assembly in which the UCPN (M) emerged as the largest political force. And later our party had to lead the government.(2)

Now there is the situation where there is both the People's Liberation Army and the (ex-Royal) Nepal Army, and this is a big point of different between the Maoist-led government and the political opposition(3) -- how to integrate these armies and implement security sector reform. What are the Maoists' plans for security sector reform and the integration of the armies?

What needs to happen is the merger of the two armies, and the creation of a new national army. Of course there will be a sort of "process" as the comprehensive peace accord stipulates -- supervision, integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants. It is the responsibility of the government. So we must respect it, respect both armies and build a new army. Of course if anybody from the PLA does not want to join the new army, they can leave. Maybe they would prefer to join the police force or another security sector. But in the end all the soldiers, the whole PLA, must be able to join the new army.

This has all been complicated recently by the actions of the Nepal Army with the support of the political opposition, with the recruitment issue and the retirement of eight generals being resisted. At present the Nepal Army really is renegade, so is this and the actions of the opposition Nepali Congress a threat to democracy in Nepal?

Yes, there are serious challenges to the peace process, but I think in the end this will not be a problem. After all, in the interim constitution and the comprehensive peace accords, it is clear that integration will happen, so no one can go back from that and those understandings and agreements.

I think it is fair to say that the situation in Nepal is currently one of refounding the nation. As a new beginning for a "New Nepal". "New Nepal" has been talked about a lot by the UCPN (M) leadership, such as Prime Minister Prachanda, Dr Bhattarai and others, so what will the "New Nepal" look like, and what will the new constitution include?

It will be a republic, this has already been achieved. "New Nepal" for us, for Maoists and revolutionaries, means a Nepal on the road to socialism. A new democratic Nepal. Of course, for other people "New Nepal" may not mean this. Some want "New Nepal" to be like what the old Nepal already is. Other people may say "healthy Nepal" or "democratised Nepal" but not a Nepal that is on the road to socialism.

I have a document, "A Brief Introduction to the Policies of the C.P.N. (Maoist)", written by Prachanda in 2004, and it talks about the Maoists' minimum program. It talks a lot about what would be bourgeois-democratic norms, such as sovereignty of the people, secular state, press freedom etc., but there are things here that are very interesting and go beyond a normal Western democracy. It talks about special rights for women and dalits(4), a revolutionary land reform and it also talks about "the guarantee of minimum wages and workers' participation in industrial management". Are these still a part of the Maoist program?

This is all part of the Maoist program of course. Until now we have taken government, but state powers are not in our hands and this problem has to be rectified. The revolution has not been completed, it continues, but of course as the revolution is completed a new kind of economy will be here on top of the world(5). A new economy will exist, there can be no victory in Nepal without that.

So workers' involvement in the economy and the state?

Oh yes.

Nepal is at the frontline of what could be a new socialist revival. There are also other countries around the world undergoing similar processes, also rewriting their constitutions with new provisions, such as Venezuela and Bolivia. Have the Maoists in Nepal been looking at the experiences in Latin America?

One difference. We are interested at looking to Venezuela, Bolivia and others, but still but we think our party is better as we consider Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as our guiding principle and we follow the path of Mao Tse Tung, which means a New Democratic Revolution.

For the accomplishment of the revolution, it is critical to follow the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, we follow and therefore our policies will be better suited to opposing our class enemies.

But we see the policies and the struggle of the people in Venezuela, Bolivia and the Latin American countries against imperialism, particularly against US imperialism. They stand against this, which we strongly appreciate, and I strongly believe that in the future that there could be an international anti-imperialist organisation, of which those countries would be a major part.

So the revolution in Nepal would be looking to make international anti-imperialist allies in Latin America?

Not only that but we think that that is a must. To accomplish revolution in a particular country against the reactionary forces of that country is not enough. Today's world is such that every ruling class of any country is completely supported by imperialist forces. No ruling class can sustain by itself. So for that matter the fight against a particular ruling class in a particular country much develop into a fight against imperialism. In any struggle it would be typical for foreign intervention to come and support [imperialist] interests. So not only do we need relations with these Latin American countries, but to be able to properly handle the international contradictions, some kind of international anti-imperialist organisation is a must. This is something we hope we can build with the Latin American countries.(6)

Speaking of foreign intervention, there has been a lot of opposition leaders, such as GP Koirala [of the Nepali Congress], the ex-King Gyanendra and KP Oli [Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist)] all congregating in Dehli under different pretexts. Also in the Constituent Assembly there has been increasing pressure on the Maoists. It has widely been speculated that there may be attempts to overthrown the government. If this was to happen what would be the response of the Maoists?

This is a risk, and we are aware that they may try to do so, but they have a problem, they are not in a position to do so. They want to run the government, they want to run the agenda, they want to form their own government, they want to run the country themselves, but it is not easy for them to do so. People have a consciousness. People have supported communist forces. This government has come to power, not by means of insurrection or guns or means they do not like, but through a process of elections, which our party was a part. So, constitutionally and legally, they are not able to overthrow us.

This is why India wants to be involved, to endanger the Maoist-led government. We know very well what they want, we are thinking only what we must do. We know what they want and we only worry about what we should do. I don't think they will be able to threaten the government.(7)

This can tie in with the situation where it is clear that while you have government you do not have state power. The army does what it wants to do, the bureaucracy has been either unwilling or unable to implement the budget, so does the party aspire to challenge for state power?

We hope to do so. We plan to do so, as we know very well that the old bureaucracy is steeped in the "status quoist" mindset and we have new and fresh ideas. There can be no link with the past and its conflicting thinking. At the moment we are helpless to move forward, but we are looking for ways that we can tackle this. Smash the old bureaucracy and create a new one. We are looking for ways.

So one final question. Are you optimistic for the "New Nepal" and what are your dreams? What do you want the sons and daughters of Nepal to inherit from the current generation?

Definitely, why not?! We are optimistic, if we were not, why join the revolution? We may as well not have joined the party! There are many challenges, which for revolutionaries and our movement, we have to face them, we believe that, we are confident that, the strong lead of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism will be successful. We will be successful in climbing all the obstacles and beating the challenges and ultimately we will be victorious, and accomplish the revolution.

Not by taking old paths but by taking a new one, because this is the 21st century. For this reason we would like to call upon progressive and leftist forces of the world -- like you people from Australia -- to support us so that the revolution can be accomplished.

Notes

1. Nepal's election of the Constituent Assembly was a mixed electoral system, with some MPs being directly election from electoratal districts on a first past the post system and others elected by proportional representation.

2. This passage might not be particularly clear unless you are familiar with the processes in Nepal. In short, the Maoist-led people's war came to an end when the Maoists made a peace agreement with the parliamentary parties after they adopted the Maoist call for a Constituent Assembly. They were compelled to do so after the monarchy ousted them from their limited parliament and created a police state. Now, however, they are "trapped in a very critical situation", the writing of a new constitution in which the Maoists have the final say on the constitution.

3. The political opposition is led by the Nepali Congress, which has remained outside the government, however it also includes forces within the government, particularly the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist). The ``opposition'' refers to all these parties.

4. Dalits are people from the lowest caste in the Hindu caste system, which exists in Nepal. Also known as untouchables.

5. "On top of the world" refers to that fact that Nepal is the site of Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) and eight of the 10 highest mountains in the world.

6. These comments on Latin America are very interesting. I should add that there is a bit of a difference of opinion between the Maoists as to what to make of Latin America. Some see it as a revolution, others as (such as in these comments) as an anti-imperialist uprising in need of "Marxist-Leninist-Maoist thought", so in my opinion the UCPN (M) hasn't fully defined how it relates to the Latin American revolution. What is standard however is a recognition that these are significant events and there is a need for greater intercontinental links.

7. This passage is a little confusing, the essence of what is being said is that because the Maoists have taken government in a process that has the support of the vast majority of people and was supported by the reactionary powers in India and the parties of the political opposition, now these political parties are not left with a leg to stand on and are unable to remove the Maoists from power, and the consciousness of the people means that the political opposition is unable to use extra-constitutional means without rousing the mass of the people against them.

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