MonitorsPublished on Dec 10, 2010
The United Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN-M or the Maoists), the single largest party in Nepal's Constituent Assembly, held its much-awaited sixth plenum at Palungtar in Gorkha district on November 21.
Nepal: Maoists plenum fails to resolve differences over future strategy
< class="heading1">Analysis

The United Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN-M or the Maoists), the single largest party in Nepal's Constituent Assembly, held its much-awaited sixth plenum at Palungtar in Gorkha district on November 21. More than 7000 cadres attended the five-day plenum, which was then extended by two more days to iron out differences of opinion among its three top leaders on the party's future strategy. Going by the huge attendance at the plenum, it could be said to have been a success. The leaders could also take pride in their success in preventing any break up of the party.

However, for the first time in the 22 years of the party's history, Maoists' chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda failed to come up with a consensus document on the future strategy of the party. Instead, he was forced to take along with him the separate documents of the two vice-chairmen as well. In a way, it also meant that the party has become more democratic in its functioning by equally considering the documents of all the three leaders -- chairman Prachanda and vice-chairmen Baburam Bhattarai and Mohan Baidya. But it seems to be more or less a forced democratization, lacking in spontaneity.

The three separate documents that were presented and discussed during the session underlined three different strategies for the party to follow in the near future. The first document presented by chairman Prachanda emphasied on the need for waging a people's revolt to secure national independence against a 'common enemy' (read: India). The second document presented by Baburam Bhattarai expressed some reservations on branding India as their common enemy. It put the entire blame on the inability of the reactionary forces to present a united front as the cause for intervention of external forces. In his view, the 'principle enemy' was not India but the reactionary forces operating within the country. So, if there has to be a revolt, it should be against them and not against India.

A much more radical line was adopted by Mohan Vaidya, who was serving a term in an Indian jail at the time of the signing of the 12-point agreement between the Maoists and the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA). In his document, Vaidya highlighted the urgency to prepare for another 'people's revolt' which should be directed against India. He further warned that if the party inclined too much towards democracy, then he would not hesitate in revolting against the party itself. However, he did not clarify his modusoperandi if he were to revolt against the party.

The party plenum unanimously decided to ask their cadres (People's Liberation Army and Young Communist League) to prepare themselves for an upcoming revolt although differences remained on identifying the principal enemy. At the end of the plenum, Prachanda's 14-point document, which purportedly synthesised the three documents, was not accepted by the two vice-chairmen. For the first time in the history of the Maoist party, the voice of the dissidents was not only heard but was also discussed.

In turn, this may sound alarm bells in the ears of Prachanda, who has been the party chairman for the past 22 years without a break, and that too without holding any elections. While Prachanda and Baburam accepted that a Maoist revolt would become imminent only if the new Constitution failed to meet its deadline and if it was not reflective of the party's demands, Mohan Baidya wanted to follow the lines of Lenin and Mao completely, by immediately launching another revolt with the help of the PLA and YCL to capture power.

The five-day party plenum, which was extended by two more days to discuss different viewpoints, ended without any decision on the future strategy. It was decided to hand over the 14-point final document presented by Prachanda to the central committee for reconciliation. If it failed again to reconcile the differences among the three Maoist stalwarts, then the issue may be referred to the general convention.

Overall, the issues that surfaced during the party plenum, including corruption and nepotism charges hurled against the party leaders by their once dedicated cadres, has not only undermined the credibility of the party but has also put the leaders of the largest party under the public scanner.

Dr Anjali Sharma is an Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Alarming rise in labour migration to foreign countries

Due to political instability and economic downturn, the Nepalese youth is forced to migrate to foreign countries in search of employment. During the first four months of the current fiscal year, the number of Nepali migrant workers leaving for overseas jobs has increased by 34 per cent.

According to statistics prepared by the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), 102,417 workers went abroad during the review period. In the corresponding period last year, the figure was 76,196.

Among the latest emigrants, 42,454 workers opted for Malaysia, which is known as the largest absorber of Nepali workforce. Last year, the number was 20,600. Similarly, 22,642 workers left for Qatar, the second biggest labour destination of Nepal. Last year, 16,994 workers had gone to Qatar. UAE was the destination for 12,593 this year while the number was 10,357 during the corresponding period last year. However, the number of workers going to Saudi Arabia saw a decline to 18,019 during the review period. Last year 19,676 labourers had flown to Saudi Arabia.

In line with the gradual improvement in the global economic scenario, the demand for Nepali workers in the international labour market has seen an upward spiral. It should be noted that foreign remittances is the main source of income for majority Nepalese families.
Source: Nepalnews, December 6, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian envoy likely to be pulled out

The possibility of replacing Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood, is gaining strength because of his allegedly brash and arrogant behaviour, according to a report published in the online edition of Indian newspaper, The Telegraph. Sood is likely to be called back to New Delhi after 'a controversy-ridden and rather an unedifying tenure', the report said.

According to the report, Sood is likely to be replaced by Jayant Prasad, currently Special Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. Sood assumed charge at a critical stage in the Nepali transition -- on the eve of the Maoists ascent to power. But he quickly gained a reputation for his blunt style of functioning.
Source: Nepalnews, December 8, 2010


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Missing terrorist-prisoners in ISI custody

The ISI and the Military Intelligence agencies have confessed that the 11 missing prisoners of Adiala Jail were in their custody since May this year after their mysterious disappearance. They have admitted this during a court proceeding.

According to the written statement by the agencies, the prisoners, soon after their release from the jail, voluntarily submitted themselves in the custody of people who had disguised themselves as spies and were taken to operational areas of terrorist outfits where the army is currently engaged in an operation against militants. Since then, these men had been 'recovered' from the terror camps by the agencies and were now under questioning for orchestrating terror campaigns. They were subject to trial under the 1952 Army Act.

This submission by the ISI and Military Intelligence has shed light on the contentious debate to the legitimacy of the agencies' actions. During the course of the proceedings, Raja Muhammed Irshad, counsel for the ISI and Military Intelligence, noted, "I want to record a statement to dispel the impression that the Pakistan army or any of its organs is above the law, and defy the court's orders. They submit themselves before the Constitution and hold the Apex Court in the highest regard."
Sources: Dawn, Daily Times, December 10, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">EU trade relief delayed

The European Union's proposal to provide trade relief to Pakistan to aid its recovery from flood damage met with a strong opposition, led by India, at the WTO in Geneva. In the first meeting of the Council for Trade in Goods, the waiver was blocked by four WTO-member countries ? India, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Peru. A decision has been postponed for consultation till March 2011.

The four countries have questioned the benefits of this short-term programme for Pakistan and expressed concern over its impact on the textile industry and workforce in other developing countries.

Through the EU offer, it is estimated that $ 1 billion worth of home-textile exports to the EU would be excluded from concession from Pakistan while mostly duty-free import of textile raw material would be allowed. This could be problematic for the local value-added sector as this waiver would then promote the export of raw material from the country resulting in a high input cost for local industry.
Source: Dawn, December 08, 2010

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TNA abstains from budget-vote

In a move that is avowedly aimed at building bridges with the Sri Lankan State and the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the 13-member Tamil National Alliance (TNA) boycotted the third and final vote on Budget-2011 in Parliament, just as it did during the second reading earlier. Though the TNA boycott would not have made any difference to the result, unlike in the case of Budget-2008, the decision was aimed at forging better relations and understanding with the Government, TNA members said, both inside and outside the House.

In the past, the TNA, and the TULF, had consistently voted against the Government of the day on all crucial issues in Parliament. The party had also opposed the ruling SLFP-UPFA, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential polls of January and the parliamentary elections in April, both held months after the conclusion of the 'ethnic war' which witnessed the rout of the LTTE and the death of its senior leaders, including its founder Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The TNA's decision came in the midst of revived anti-Sri Lanka, anti-Rajapaksa protests by vociferous sections (read: pro-LTTE) of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in the UK, during the visit of President Rajapaksa. So loud were the protests that the Oxford Union, which was to have hosted a public Lecture by the President, had to abandon the programme at the last minute -- after the President's arrival in London.

In clarifying that the TNA's boycott of the budget vote was aimed at creating the right conditions for the successful start of political negotiations with the Government, party member Ariyanethran told Parliament that they would be forced to reconsider their decision after a month, if the latter did not initiate the process.
Source: Daily Mirror & The Island

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UNP divided, still

Even as the Sri Lankan Government was trying to overcome the shock and embarrassment caused to President Mahinda Rajapaksa from the cancellation of Oxford Union Lecture in UK, the Opposition United National Party (UNP) remained a divided house, with different speakers talking in different tones on related issues -- that too on the eve of the party's much-talked about national convention.

Rather than forcing the issue one way or the other, UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya and parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa quarreled over the 'war crimes' charges that were being pressed by the Tamil Diaspora when the President visited the UK the previous week. Jayasuriya made out as if the President and some members of his team were liable to be prosecuted for 'war crimes'. Premadasa Jr, with his eyes on the party's top post, however, blamed the LTTE squarely on this score even as incumbent leader Ranil Wickremesinghe continued to be ambivalent on this issue as on many others.

All this, even as Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa justified the steep rise in the Defence allocation in Budget-2011, pointing out that 88 per cent of the allocation went towards establishment expenses. He also indicated that a certain percentage had to be ear-marked for installment-payments for arms procured during 'Eeelam War IV'.
Source: The Island, Colombo

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Hizb-ut Tahrir expanding

In a sensational revelation, State Minister for Home Affairs, Shamsul Hoque, has said that Hizb-ut Tahrir, the banned Islamist outfit, has been expanding its area of operation under a new name. The organisation which was believed earlier to be operating only in madrassas and orphanages has become active in various universities inside the country. The law enforcement agencies are aware of this development and are vigilant of the group's activities and their financial resources, the Minister said.

The Government has also directed the Education Department to take necessary measures to control the spread of militant ideology in educational institutions. The Department is planning to publish booklets and distribute leaflets against the menace of militancy among students and also to involve teachers in the regard.

The Hizb-ut Tahrir is a radical Islamic group which wants to whip up khilafa, or 'rebellion', across the globe. It is believed to have close links with Al Qaeda.
Source: New Age, December 6, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Overland transit fees

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni has said that the Government was working on creating the overland transit facilities to India under the new deal signed to transport 'over dimensional consignments' (ODC) for a power project at Palatana in Tripura State. The Government was also assessing various factors, including the impact of the deal on the country's economy, before fixing the tariff, he said.

India and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on November 30, which allowed carrying 96 consignments of Indian heavy equipment from West Bengal to Ashuganj on the river route and then from Ashuganj to Akhaura, overland.
Source: The Daily Star, December 8, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">'Voted out' Ministers quit after SC ruling

All seven ministers in a total of 13 whose appointment was not approved by Opposition-dominated Parliament quit, after President Mohammed Nasheed declared that he would abide by an adversarial Supreme Court ruling in the matter. Not accepting the Government's position in the matter, a full bench of the Supreme Court, barring a single Judge, ruled that Parliament has the power not to confirm the presidential appointments in the matter -- and that the House could vote on individual ministers, and not on the entire Cabinet, as enunciated by the Government, based on an earlier ruling some weeks ago.

Parliament had rejected seven ministers including Home Minister Mohamed Shihab, Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfee, Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, Defence Minister Amin Faisal, Finance Minister Ali Hashim and AG Ahmed Ali Sawad after weeks of heated debates between the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the combined Opposition led by the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

With the Cabinet resigning en masse in early June, citing the 'scorched earth policy' of the Opposition as the reason, and the President re-nominating the entire team after nine days, clearance by Parliament for the re-nomination became a political issue that raged for weeks. Though at one point in time a compromise formula seemed almost in sight, that was not to be the case, what with the Government insisting on having all 13 members working as a team. It even argued that under the Constitution, Parliament's approval was not needed for the purpose.
Source: Minivan News & Haveeru Online

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Medical Council clears two Israeli doctors

The Maldives Medical Council has licensed two of the four doctors from the team of Israeli doctors visiting Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male to conduct eye surgeries. The council said the license would be issued to the remaining two doctors after they produced documents attested by an Israeli authority or the institution that issued the certificate.

"The issue is not because they belong to a particular country. The certificates do not prove their qualifications and standards," a council spokesman said. According to him, the council had stressed that a list of documents required for registration were sent three months ago to the seven-member team from Israel's Eye from Zion via the Maldives agent.

Meanwhile, around 40 people gathered at the Tsunami Monument area on Friday urging the Goernment to deport the Israeli doctors. Fundamentalist Adhalath Party, an ally of the ruling MDP, has also urged the public to be cautious of the team. A press release said Israeli doctors had harvested organs from dead bodies of murdered Palestinians.
Source: Haveeru Online, December 10, 2010

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Nepal: Anjali Sharma;
Pakistan: Anjana Verma;

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