Nepal Maoists want off U.S. ter­ror­ist list af­ter re­cent elec­toral gains

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Ja­son Mot­lagh

KAT­MANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s Maoists want the United States to re­move them from its ter­ror­ist list, a se­nior party of­fi­cial said, not­ing the groundswell of pop­u­lar sup­port that car­ried them to vic­tory in his­toric elec­tions last month.

Am­bas­sador Nancy Pow­ell on May 1 met with Maoist Chair­man Pushpa Ka­mal Da­hal, alias Prachanda, for the first time, in a move seen as a pos­si­ble step to­ward nor­mal­iz­ing re­la­tions with the for­mer rebels, who are still of­fi­cially clas­si­fied as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion de­spite aban­don­ing armed re­volt and join­ing a peace process in 2006.

“We have taken [the meet­ing] as a pos­i­tive ges­ture from the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, and hope the ter­ror­ist des­ig­na­tion will soon be re­moved from our party,” C.P. Ga­jurel, a top-level mem­ber of the Maoists’ Cen­tral Com­mit­tee sec­re­tariat, told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “The peo­ple of Nepal have given us their man­date through a le­git­i­mate process.”

Mr. Ga­jurel said the par ty would con­tinue to press U.S. of­fi­cials for a change in sta­tus, which he was con­fi­dent would hap­pen in the near term.

Few de­tails emerged from the closed-door meet­ing, aside from an em­bassy state­ment that the am­bas­sador had sought as­sur­ances that donor agree­ments gov­ern­ing U.S. aid to Nepal would be re­spected and that Maoist party mem­bers would re­main com­mit­ted to the po­lit­i­cal process.

Ms. Pow­ell trav­eled to the United States on May 2 to brief State De­part­ment of­fi­cials about re­cent de­vel­op­ments, fu­el­ing spec­u­la­tion that the Maoists’ place on the ter­ror­ist list might be un­der re­view.

The Maoists were in­cluded on the State De­part­ment’s list of ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions in 2003.

A U.S. Em­bassy of­fi­cial in Kat­mandu, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity, said such meet­ings were a mat­ter of pro­ce­dure and de­clined to spec­ify if or when a change might hap­pen, say­ing only that it would “de­pend on the Maoists’ ac­tions” and a “re­jec­tion of vi­o­lence to achieve po­lit­i­cal goals.”

Con­cerns have re­peat­edly been ex­pressed over the Maoists’ Young Com­mu­nist League, whose vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion was a dis­rup­tive force in the run-up to the elec­tion.

The for­mer rebels, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion now is called the Com­mu­nist Par ty of Nepal- Maoist, de­fied ex­pec­ta­tions by win­ning 220 of the Con­stituent As­sem­bly’s 601 seats in April 10 elec­tions.

The as­sem­bly will re­write the con­sti­tu­tion, abol­ish the monar­chy and at­tempt to bring last­ing sta­bil­ity to the tiny Hi­malayan coun­try af­ter a decade-long civil war that cost an es­ti­mated 13,000 lives.

The Nepali Congress and the Com­mu­nist Par ty of Nepal (Marx­ist-Lenin­ist) have yet to de­cide whether they will join the Maoists, though the first meet­ing of the Con­stituent As­sem­bly must be held be­fore May 26, ac­cord­ing to the in­terim con­sti­tu­tion.

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