Tuesday, May 20, 2008

People’s Movement in Nepal Wins Elections

by N. Zahra
Basics Issue #9 (May 2008)

On April 10, 2008 elections were held in Nepal for the first time in 9 years. The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) won an absolute majority in the constituent assembly. From 1996-2006 the CPN-M led a people’s war that liberated over 80 percent of the countryside from the terror of the Royal Nepalese Army, the monarchy and brutal feudal landlords. The CPN-M won rural people’s trust over the past decade by successfully fighting against Nepal’s racist caste-system, women’s oppression, feudal oppression and the stealing of Nepal’s vast natural resources by foreign states and corporations. Under the slogan of ‘land for the tiller,’ support for the people’s war led by the Maoists extended across the country.

The people’s support led CPN-M to move their struggle to the capital, Kathmandu. In 2006, CPN-M agreed to put down their guns and enter into the political arena. Over the past two years since the end of the people’s war, CPN-M has maintained the support of rural people and has gained the support of those in the cities. This was demonstrated in the elections when CPN-M won 220 seats in the constituent assembly, beating out the next two largest parties combined. The constituent assembly was formed in order to rewrite the Nepali constitution and abolish the monarchy.

This resounding victory was unexpected by the traditional parties in Nepal, especially the US-backed Nepali Congress Party (NC). The NC, with major backing from the United States and India, is trying to argue that the old Nepali Congress Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala should remain in power, despite the clear victory of Maoist party. CPN-M leader, Prachanda says that he has the right to lead the country and that CPN-M will form the new government despite protests from the current ruling party and its imperialist supporters.

According to Nepal’s interim constitution, the first meeting of the constituent assembly has to be held before May 26, 2008. It remains to be seen whether the efforts of the NC, India and the United States, to undermine the election results will halt the people’s victory.

This interference, not uncommon, shows once again that it is people’s organizing and mass movements that bring change, not party politics. Even if the NC and its imperialist supporters sabotage the CPN-M victory, the struggle of the Nepali people for self-determination and a just social order will continue. ∗