Some Background on recent events: The constitutional republic strategy pursued by the Nepalese UCPN(M) since it abandoned the revolutionary People’s War strategy in 2006 has taken a number of twists and turns on a highly contentious path, which appears to be reaching some sort of juncture. While within Nepal, there has been a prolonged stalemate in relations between the UCPN(M) and the bourgeois parties with whom the Maoists have sought to unite in a national unity government, various international powers have weighed in with attempts to influence and control, with promises, threats, bribes and conditions—all the standard methods, and all usually couched in terms of “advice”, “realism”, and “opportunities.” The fact that, within the Maoist party, there has been an ongoing line struggle between the leading parliamentary – constitutional road, led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda, and those advocating a rebirth of the revolutionary road, has meant that the US ,Indian, Chinese and European cajoling and threats have been grist for the mill of ongoing struggle within the Maoist party between revolutionaries and revisionist (i.e., those who have articulated and managed the retreat from the revolutionary path).
Relations between the Nepal UCPN(M) and the US
The prolonged stalemate in Nepal has increased pressure on the UCPN(M) as its “problem solving” credibility among the masses has declined; as its options have narrowed; and as the differences within the UCPN(M) central committee have sharpened and intensified. In this context, the US has moved to strengthen its ties to the UCPN(M), along with maintaining the US ties to the bourgeois parties in the Nepal Constituent Assembly. While the US role has been largely and carefully hidden, its strategy in this is taken from its neo-colonial “nation-building” tool-box.
A US offer was made to “assist” in solving the deadlock on the writing of a new constitution—an essential step in stabilizing Nepal. Under the guise of a seminar or training session, all the Nepal parties were invited to Boston this week. All were granted US visas, the State Department paid for all expenses, and then one member of the UCPN(M) delegation had his visa revoked after a complaint from Human Rights Watch. (Human Rights Watch has an international reputation of working closely with, and sometimes fronting for, government intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies and programs). This visa revocation was taken by the UCPN(M) to be a humiliating and excessive condition on their delegation, so they returned to Nepal, without attending the Boston program.
Those interested in more details on this series of events may follow the succession of news reports:
24 June 2010 11:03, Nepal Times
Two dozen CA members flying to US to take training on constitution making
About two dozen Constituent Assembly (CA) members are flying to the United States Thursday evening to participate in a 10-day seminar titled ‘Boston Negotiation and State Building Programme for Nepali Political Leaders.’…. The programme is jointly organised by the US Department of State, Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, US NGO Karnuna Centre for Peace Building and Nepali NGO Institute for Peace, Conflict Management and Development (ICPD). …
Nepali CA members will be trained on team building, developing inter-party cooperation and principled negotiations and leadership during the seminar…. They will also meet members of House of Representatives, senators and Governor of Massachusetts. … The 23-member Nepali delegation includes 22 CA members from various political parties represented in the CA including Unified CPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN (UML), Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), MJF-Loktantrik, Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) and Sadhbhawana, among others. NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC is the only person in the delegate who is not a CA member…
The participants include CP Gajurel, Agni Sapkota, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Pampha Bhusal from the UCPN (Maoist), Arjun Narsingh KC, Ramesh Lekhak and Suprabha Ghimire from NC and Pradip Gyawali, Lakki Sherpa and Sapana Pradhan Malla from UML….They are leaving for US by a Gulf Air flight at 7 pm, Thursday. … The US embassy in Kathmandu had hosted a dinner to the participants of the seminar Wednesday evening. …Meanwhile, analysts have taken the US government’s decision to award visa to Maoist CA members and co-sponser them as a policy shift of the US government towards Nepal’s Maoists….
Two years ago, when the UCPN (Maoist) was leading the government the US government had refused to provide visa to erstwhile minister Pampha Bhusal. They had also refused visa to Maoist vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and CA member Sabitra Dura to go to US for the UN general assembly. nepalnews.com
Himalayan Times, June 24, 2010
Four Maoist leaders issued US visas
KATHMANDU: The US Embassy in Kathmandu has granted visa to four Maoist leaders to take part in a Boston seminar in which leaders of the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and other parties are also participating…. “It appears that the Obama administration has become liberal towards us,” said Maoist Secretary CP Gajurel, who will be visiting the USA for the first time….
The US government, which denied visa to a sitting Maoist minister two years ago, is co-sponsoring their visit, sources said. But the US government has not yet removed the UCPN-Maoist from its terrorist watch-list….Gajurel, standing committee member Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and politburo members Agni Sapkota and Pampha Bhusal are scheduled to leave for the USA tomorrow. US Ambassador to Nepal Scott H DeLisi had dinner with the Maoist leaders on Tuesday….
The US Embassy had refused to issue visa to Pampha Bhusal two years ago, when she was minister for general administration. It had also denied visa to Maoist vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha and Maoist CA member Sabitra Dura, when they were to take part in the UN general assembly last year….Maoist CA member Suresh Ale Magar was the first Maoist leader to visit the US. Maoist foreign department chief Krishna Bahadur Mahara went on a political visit to the US last month….
The Maoist leaders are among 23 Nepali politicians who will participate in a seminar jointly organised by the US Department of State, Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, US NGO Karnuna Centre for Peace Building and Nepali NGO Institute for Peace, Conflict Management and Development. The 10-day seminar is titled “Boston Negotiation and State Building Programme for Nepali Political Leaders”….According to the itinerary, the Nepali delegate will meet members of House of Representatives, senators and Governor of Massachusetts. Theme of the seminar is team building, developing inter-party cooperation and principled negotiations and leadership. Dr Purna Kant Adhikari, chairman of ICPD, Kathmandu, which coordinated the visit, declined to comment on the visit.
Asian Tribune, June 26, 2010
Maoists call back their comrades on US visit over one visa denial.
In a move that is likely to further worsen their relationship with the US, the UCPN (Maoists) on Friday decided to call back three of the party members that flew for the US following denial of US visa to one of their leaders…Maoist leaders CP Gajurel, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Pampha Bhusal along with 19 others members had flown to the US to take part in a 10-day long training program in collaborative negotiations on Thursday. One of the Maoist leaders Agni Prasad Sapkota, however, had to shelve his visit at the eleventh hour after he was denied visa…
The Maoist said the decision of the US authorities was an attempt to harm the dignity and standing of the entire Maoist party. “..we want to make it clear that we are compelled to take a decision to immediately call back comrades who have already left to take part in the program, to express our objection to this type of treatment,” said a press statement issued on Friday….The US embassy in Kathmandu, however, justified the denial saying Sapkota “could not be approved for travel due to serious and specific human rights allegations associated with his conduct during the insurgency”.
“Until those allegations can be investigated and resolved we believed that it would be inappropriate to approve his travel to the United States,” US Ambassador to Nepal, Scott H DeLisi, said in a statement….The Maoists alleged that Sapkota was denied a visa “partly also because of unsound objection by some INGOs, among others´. “The party has seriously taken the issue,” the Maoist said…Earlier, the Australian embassy had also denied a visa to Sapkota, who has a diplomatic passport. He is accused of involvement in the murder of one Arjun Bahadur Lama in April 2005 in Kavre during the Maoist insurgency….The Supreme Court has already ordered that a case be filed against Sapkota along with five other Maoist leaders: Yadav Poudel, Bhola Aryal, Karnakhar Gautam, Surya Man Donga and Norbu Moktan….
Even as the Maoist got resounding victory in Constituent Assembly elections held April 2008 and also headed government for nine months, the US continues to keep the former rebel party under terrorist organizations watch list….According to the Country Reports on Terrorism 2008 released by the US Department of State, the Maoist’s United Revolutionary People´s Council and the People´s Liberation Army (PLA) are still part of US Terrorist exclusion List. While the United Revolutionary People’s Council is a political wing of the party, the People’s Liberation Army is the military arm of the party.
Asian Tribune, June 25
UCPN-Maoist cancels US visit of leaders
Kathmandu – Unified CPN (Maoist) postponed the visit of its party politburo member Agni Prasad Sapkota to United States at the eleventh hour and decided to call back other leaders at the earliest following the unhealthy criticism by some INGOs. The party had nodded the US trip of leaders CP Gajurel, Pampha Bhusal, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Sapkota to take part at a programme. All the leaders but Sapkota had left for the US yesterday…
Deciding to call back the party leaders at the earliest, the UCPN-Maoist has drawn the attention of the American Embassy, Kathmandu, to make necessary arrangement for the return of the leaders….Issuing a press release, party spokesperson Dinanath Sharma said that the party was compelled to call back the leaders who had gone to take part at the programme, expressing his disagreement over the incidents that were plotted aiming at defaming the party….The leaders had left for the US to take part at an interaction among Nepali political parties on ‘Boston Agreement and State Building’ to be organised in Boston from June 25-July 4 by the Karuna Kendra for Peace.
Himalayan Times, June 26, 2010
Maoists smell a rat in Agni barrin
KATHMANDU: The UCPN-Maoist called back the three senior leaders heading to the U.S. to protest an apathetic behaviour of Human Rights Watch towards and false charges against the fourth leader who was also set to take part in a seminar in Boston, Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Saturday…Speaking at the press conference organised at the party headquarters in Perisdanda to publicise the decisions of the Maoist politburo meeting, Dahal said that as difficulties were created for Agni Sapkota’s visit on false ground the other participants—Pampha Bhusal, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and C.P. Gajurel who had already left for the U.S.—were asked to cancel their trip…
He said that the Human Rights Watch falsely accused Sapkota of involvement in murder during the insurgency…According to him, the move, however, would not sour its relation with the U.S. … “As per the suggestion of U.S. ambassador to Nepal Scott H DeLisi, the three leaders had already flown to the U.S. and Sapkota was scheduled to visit later due to some technical reasons,” he said…Earlier yesterday, the Maoists had said that the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu denied visa to Sapkota under the objections by some international nongovernmental organisations…With the possibility of Sapkota’s arrest in the U.S. airport, he cancelled his trip, according to Dahal. He suspected that some international organisations are hatching conspiracies to defame the Maoists…The four leaders were invited to attend a 10-day seminar on collaboration negotiations in Boston, from June 25 to July 5.