Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Very dangerous bedfellows

There are just some folks with whom one should NEVER get in bed. It's pretty hard to get ahead of Maoists on that list. Pro-democracy protesters in Nepal may come to learn this the hard way after they formed a common front with the Maoist insurgency to pressure the king (it's a constitutional monarchy) to concede to essentially allow a referendum on the Constitution and the future of the monarchy.

But the coalition also faced a stinging statement from the Maoist rebels, who had lately linked arms with them. In an apparent bid to ensure that they are not forgotten in an easy political settlement, the rebels denounced the parties' acceptance of the king's offer as "a historic blunder" and vowed to carry on with a blockade of the main roads leading to Katmandu, effectively preventing the flow of goods, including food and fuel, from reaching the capital.
The Maoists and the Seven-Party Alliance last fall signed an accord that obliges the politicians to accept the Maoists' demand for a vote on the constitution, while at the same time obliging the Maoists to agree to play by the rules of parliamentary democracy. It is a significant retreat from the Maoists' original goal of establishing a one-party Communist state. The mystery now is whether they mean what they say.
Going forward, the Maoists may not have it easy either. Their war has cost an estimated 13,000 lives over the last 10 years and not succeeded in bringing them to power. There seems no military solution in sight. Their only chance of coming to power and pushing through broad social reforms, starting with the demand for a kingless democratic republic, depends largely on their alliance with the politicians.

13,000 lives in a country of 28 million is equivalent to 150,000 lives in the U.S. Maoists in Peru have threatened the stability of that country as well.

Mao should be remembered as one of history's great butchers and those who seek to emulate him cannot ever be trusted.

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