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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07KATHMANDU638
2007-03-26 12:58:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

PARTIES AND MAOISTS JOCKEYING FOR MINISTERIAL

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PTER  PHUM  NP 
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P 261258Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
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INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 5549
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 5848
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 1057
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 3864
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 5171
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1220
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1577
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2540
						C O N F I D E N T I A L KATHMANDU 000638 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM NP
SUBJECT: PARTIES AND MAOISTS JOCKEYING FOR MINISTERIAL
POSITIONS?


Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty for reasons 1.4(b/d).

Summary
--------



1. (C) Nepal's three major legitimate political parties and
the Maoists have spent much of the past few days publicly
squabbling over the division of ministries in a long-awaited
interim government. The Interim Government's first decision
will be to choose the date for Constituent Assembly
elections: hold them in June or defer them until October or
November? Meanwhile, Maoist abuses have not ended and
Nepal's law-and-order problem and its "ethnic question" are
far from resolved as evidenced by the recent killings in
Gaur. Indeed, despite the public posturing by the parties,
it remains unclear when an interim government will actually
be formed.

April: In With the Old, Out With the New


--------------------------





2. (C) Prime Minister G.P. Koirala, according to his foreign
policy advisor, is insisting that his Nepali Congress party
retain the Home, Defense and Finance portfolios in the
Interim Government, while the Communist Party of Nepal -
United Marxist Leninist (UML) and the Maoists are both
insisting that they get one of the big three ministries.
Media are clucking over the public squabbling accompanying
this issue in recent days.

Constituent Assembly Elections: Now or Never?


--------------------------





3. (C) The delay in forming the Interim Government has put at
risk the proposed June date for Constituent Assembly
elections. The two options under consideration are both
problematic. As United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN)
chief Ian Martin told Chiefs of Mission March 22, elections
held by mid-June would not be free and fair. Three months
was simply not enough time to prepare. Prominent political
leaders such as the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament
Chitralekha Yadav (Nepali Congress - Democratic), a Madhesi,
are starting to say publicly that the election should be
deferred to October or November. She pointed out March 24
that the necessary electoral laws had yet to be adopted. Her
party President, Sher Bahadur Deuba, went public with similar
comments March 26, stressing that free and fair elections
could not be held while Maoist intimidation continued.
Nonetheless, according to one school of thought (and UML
General Secretary M.K. Nepal has been its most visible
proponent) elections must take place by June. Various
arguments are advanced: we (the parties) promised the public,
PM Koirala could die, the Maoists will rise, the King will
conspire, the law and order situation could further
deteriorate. Maoist insistence on a June date appears
increasing tactical; we believe that, in light of their
recent setbacks in the Terai, the Maoists would prefer a
delay (or no election at all).

Keeping the Maoists In Check


--------------------------





4. (C) There is no certainty that the Maoists will join the
Interim Government soon. Koirala continues to insist they
change their behavior and, indeed, he could take advantage of
the ongoing talks on ministerial seats to replace his
discredited Home Minister, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, with a
strong law-and-order figure. Pressure is increasing on the
Maoists from other quarters, too. After issuing a
disappointingly uncritical assessment of the Maoist arms
registration process a few weeks ago, UNMIN chief Martin has
in recent days stressed that the UN intends vigorously to
weed out the large number of under-age and recent Maoist
recruits in the UN-monitored cantonments. He has also
emphasized the need for law and order.

Making Politics More Inclusive



--------------------------





5. (C) Sitaula's ouster in a cabinet reshuffle would have the
additional advantage of fulfilling a pre-condition the
Madhesi People's Rights Forum (currently under fire for the
deaths of 29 Maoists in Gaur on March 21) has set for talks
with the government. On a positive note, on March 25, the
commission empowered to delineate constituencies for the
upcoming election began its work. As of yet, however, the
Speaker of the Interim Parliament has not organized the
envisioned national roundtable on bringing ethnic minorities
and other disadvantaged groups into the political mainstream,
and the top political leaders reportedly stripped the latest
electoral law tabled in Parliament of its language on
inclusiveness.

Comment


--------------------------





6. (C) To paraphrase the memorable comments of Ambassador
Malinowski, the Maoists and the Seven-Party Alliance appear
to be arguing over who will occupy the master bedroom while
the house burns down. That said, the continuing delays in
formation of an interim government do not play into the hands
of the Maoists, who as of yet do not appear to have decided
on their way forward and are beginning to look disorganized
and shaken.
MORIARTY