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09KATHMANDU1079 2009-11-25 07:22:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

NEPAL: MAOIST CHAIRMAN OPTIMISTIC ON PEACE PROCESS

Tags:   PREL PGOV PTER KDEM NP 
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1. (C) Summary: The Maoists remain committed to the peace
process and are "trying their best" to work with other
parties, according to Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal (aka
Prachanda). In response to ref A demarche points, Prachanda
told Charge that other parties, supported by India, are
blocking progress, not the Maoists. Prachanda optimistically
predicted that the three main parties will soon announce a
"high-level political mechanism" and agreement on permanently
ending the blockade of parliament, and promised that the
Maoists will unilaterally discharge the 4,008 disqualified
former combatants "within two weeks." End Summary.

Maoists Committed to Peace Process


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




2. (C) During a November 24 meeting at Prachanda's downtown
Kathmandu residence, Charge expressed U.S. concern about the
ongoing political stalemate in Nepal. Per ref A
instructions, Charge urged the Maoists to demonstrate maximum
flexibility in reaching a political agreement with other
parties. Prachanda said he was "very optimistic" that the
political parties would soon create a "high-level political
mechanism" to move the peace process forward, as well as find
a "middle way" to address the President's "unconstitutional
action" reversing the dismissal of then-Chief of the Army
Staff Katawal.



3. (C) Asked about his meeting with G.P. Koirala in
Singapore, Prachanda said the two agreed to form the
high-level political mechanism to spur action on the peace
process, but not/not to replace the current government.
Koirala told Prachanda that other Nepali Congress leaders did
not support the deal, which is why Koirala distanced himself
from Prachanda during recent public comments. (Comment: This
is consistent with other reporting and raises questions about
the ailing Koirala's control over the party and his ability
to deliver on the high-level political mechanism. End
Comment.)

We're Flexible, They're Not


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




4. (C) Citing the decision to allow the budget to pass
November 24, Prachanda said the Maoists are "trying their
best" to show flexibility. He blamed the other parties for
undermining the peace process, such as the recent statements
by Defense Minister Bhandari about renegotiating key elements
of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Prachanda also said
that forces "linked to New Delhi" are "not comfortable" with
the current constitution drafting process, given the Maoists'
plurality in the Constituent Assembly, and are floating the
idea of working outside the CA to finalize the new
constitution, a proposal the Maoists strongly reject.

Promises of Peaceful Protests


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




5. (C) Charge acknowledged that the recent Maoist protests
(ref B) were largely peaceful, but said that the announced
general strike, planned for late December, would only hurt
innocent Nepali people, whom the Maoists purport to
represent. Prachanda said that there was a "real
possibility" that the parties could reach consensus before
the planned general strike. The Maoists take seriously the
"credibility of their party" and any Maoist protests would
remain "constructive and peaceful."

Discharge of Disqualified Within Two Weeks


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




6. (C) Prachanda promised that the Maoists will unilaterally
discharge the 4,008 disqualified combatants, many of whom are
minors, "within two weeks." The Maoists welcome UNDP funding
for the process, such as vocational training, but the party
is prepared to send the former combatants home to their

KATHMANDU 00001079 002 OF 002


villages with or without UN support. The Maoist commanders
are meeting November 24 to finalize plans for the discharge
process. Charge indicated that responsible discharge of the
disqualified would be a positive and welcome step.

Suspicion of India, Welcome U.S. Engagement


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




7. (C) According to Prachanda, the Government of India's role
in Nepal is not as helpful as it could be. The Maoists want
good relations with New Delhi and are trying to "clarify"
their party's position, but have been disappointed by India's
reaction. It is an "open secret" that New Delhi has close
ties to the leadership in the Nepali Congress and Communist
Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML).



8. (C) Prachanda reiterated his party's desire to have a
"good relationship" with the United States and welcomed
continuing contacts at multiple levels. As head of
international affairs, Krishna Bahadur Mahara should remain
the Embassy's main point of contact. Charge said that the
United States hoped to continue dialogue on the steps
necessary to remove the Maoists from the U.S. terrorist
lists, which includes addressing conflict-era human rights
cases, but indicated that Maoist action was required to move
the dialogue forward.

Expanded UNMIN Mandate


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




9. (C) Asked about the future of UNMIN, Prachanda said its
mandate should be extended for at least six months. "Without
the UN, we can't bring the peace process to its logical
conclusion." Prachanda also suggested that UNMIN's mandate
should be "upgraded" to include political issues.

Comment


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




10. (C) Despite Prachanda's upbeat assessment, we remain
skeptical about the Maoist commitment to the peace process.
The party has repeatedly promised to discharge the
disqualified former combatants, but always finds an excuse to
delay action. We suspect the Maoists will keep most, if not
all, their combatants in cantonments until they control
government and are confident about the outcome of the army
integration plan and new constitution. The much-hyped, G.P.
Koirala/Prachanda-led "high-level political mechanism," even
if created, will not by itself resolve the core peace process
issues, on which the parties remain deeply divided.
BERRY