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Civic Solidarity for Peace

The Peace Talks:
What's on the Agenda and What's at Stake

The ceasefire has brought welcome relief from armed warfare to the Nepali people. But many other kinds of violence continue unabated - the violence of malnutrition, the violence of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality in the world, the violence of usury by moneylenders, myriad forms of violence against women under patriarchy, the violence of caste discrimination, the violence of spiralling foreign debt, the violence of the inhumane terms imposed by multinational financial institutions, the violence of bonded labor, the violence of widespread unemployment and of less than a living wage for those with work, the violence of torture in custody, the violence of imposed governance, and many others. And so, welcome as it is, the ceasefire is just a respite from one kind of violence. In order for the ceasefire to develop into the lasting peace we seek, this precious time must be used to address, with great seriousness and imagination, the many other kinds of violence that daily stalk the Nepali people.

In the first peace negotiations in 2001 the CPN(Maoist) presented an agenda. The government side did not, and merely rejected the other side's agenda items, one by one. In other words, there were no substantive talks. Nepal cannot afford a repetition of such a failure by those who claim to govern her.

In this new round of talks, the CPN(Maoist) presented a detailed agenda in the first formal meeting. That agenda is made available here in English translation. So far, the unelected government has not presented any agenda. We hope that it will make that minimal show of accountability to peace-seeking Nepalis. If it does so, we will try to make that agenda available here as well.

- Civic Solidarity for Peace
21 Baisakh, 2060

N.B. The translation of the CPN(Maoist) agenda proposal provided here is approved by their negotiating team as an accurate rendition of the content, spirit and tone of the original document. There are several other translations in circulation, some of which may create misunderstandings about what has been proposed and about stated rationales for various positions. Since debate should be about what is actually proposed and misrepresentations, whether intentional or not, can be harmful to the peace process, we recommend making use of this translation.
CSP, 05/14/03

Concise Agenda Proposal
Presented by the CPN(Maoist)
in the Initial Meeting of the Peace Talks

Baburam Bhattarai
Co-ordinator, CPN(Maoist) Negotiating Team
14 Baishakh, 2060 (27 April, 2003)

A. Preamble

B. Aims and Goals

C. Implementation of the Ceasefire and Code of Conduct, and Establishment of an Environment Conducive to Negotiations

D. Negotiation Process and Timetable

E. Agenda of the Talks

F.Implementation and Monitoring

A. Preamble

The old state power that has held sway in our country, uninterruptedly, for nearly two and a half centuries has fallen into a grave crisis due to its retrogressive class relations, both domestic and international. As a result of its class character, the old state power has many kinds of intrinsic contradictions -- class, caste and ethnic, regional, and gender-based. These contradictions seek a progressive resolution, and progressive structural readjustment of the state power itself is clearly inevitable.

The political transformations of 2007 (1950-51) and 2046-47 (1990-91) sought to resolve the crisis of state power in partial and piecemeal fashion. Those efforts were not enough to solve the fundamental problems of nationality, democracy and people's livelihood. The events of the past fifty-two years, and especially those of the past twelve years, have provided ample evidence of this fact.

Due to this situation, beginning on the 1st of Phalgun, 2052 (13 February, 1996), under the leadership of the CPN (Maoist), the oppressed classes, castes, regions, women, and communities of Nepal raised the banner of armed rebellion. The oppressed peoples rose in armed rebellion to bring about fundamental political, economic, social and cultural transformation, and to organise those transformed structures into a new, progressive state power.

After seven years of merciless civil war, a strategic balance was established between the crisis-ridden old state power and the rising new state power. In this situation, and keeping in mind the special geo-political situation of the country, it was considered desirable at this time to seek a progressive political outcome through peaceful means. Hence, as is common knowledge, both sides agreed to a ceasefire on 15 Magh, 2059 (29 January, 2003) and decided to embark on a process of negotiation.

It is in this context that this concise agenda proposal is presented by the official negotiating team of the CPN(Maoist) whose brief is to seek a progressive political outcome to the current crisis. This agenda can be elaborated and refined as necessary at the negotiating table.

B. Aims and Goals

The aims and goals of the talks between the representatives of the old and new powers must be in accord with the following aims/goals:

C. Implementation of the Ceasefire and Code of Conduct, and Establishment of an Environment Conducive to Negotiations

Certain conditions must be met in order to create an environment of trust conducive to talks. After seven years of civil war, a situation was reached in which the People's Army controlled most rural areas while the Royal Army controlled the capital, district capitals, and large cities. Acknowledging this on-the-ground reality, the ceasefire signed on 15 Magh (29 January 2003) and the 22-point code of conduct made public on 29 Phalgun (13 March, 2003) were based on the central principle that this status quo will hold, and neither side will engage in armed incursions into the other's areas, for the duration of the negotiations. These facts are well known.

Along with continued adherence to this principle, rapid and effective steps must be taken to:

A fixed period of time must be set to meet these conditions, and the following actions carried out within that period:

D. Negotiation Process and Timetable

The following must be done in order to make the process of negotiations transparent and result-oriented:

1) A team of neutral and respected facilitators must be created, by mutual agreement of both parties to the talks, in order to make the talks proceed smoothly and transparently. This team must be included right from the outset of formal talks, and in every stage of the talks thereafter.

2) The time and place of talks shall be fixed by mutual agreement of both parties through the facilitators.

3) Because the question of state power is the precipitating factor in the current conflict, the political agenda must be given primacy in the talks, with other subjects to be raised sequentially as the talks proceed.

4) The current political condition of the country is one of extreme flux. It is not merely unhelpful, but positively risky, to remain in this condition for an indefinite period of time. Therefore, good faith effort must be made to bring the talks to a meaningful conclusion as quickly as possible.

E. Agenda of the Talks

1) Main Political Agenda

Because the question of state power, or the political question, is at the root of all the problems facing the country, the main agenda of the talks must focus on the political, and this issue must receive primary attention.

A new progressive state system and a new constitution that will define that system are essential to resolve the crisis existing in the country. The constitution promulgated after the 1990-91 People's Movement has already become, objectively speaking, a dead document, unimplemented, ignored, and violated by the state. The country is currently without a constitution. Acknowledging these on-the-ground realities, the procedure for creating a new constitution, and the minimum essential content of the new constitution must be the main agenda of the talks.

The experience of the past twelve years has made it clear that although the 1991 constitution contained some strong democratic features, it also contained some serious errors and lacunae. (Examples of strong democratic features include multi-party competition, periodic elections, rule of law, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, etc. Examples of serious errors and lacunae include the so-called un-revisable subjects, the contradiction between sovereignty vested in the people and royal authority, the disappearance of genuine democracy for oppressed classes, castes, regions, women, and others within the British system of formal democracy, etc.). This experience makes it certain that both the constitution-making procedure and the contents of the new constitution must be more progressive than in 1990-91.

The new people's consciousness of the 21st century, and the new balance of political power created by seven years of merciless civil war, make two other facts just as vividly clear: Neither the retrogressive thinking that has reasserted itself after 1991, nor the conservative thinking that seeks to keep the country forever stuck in 1991, can fulfill the new needs of the people. Neither of these lines of thinking can resolve the current crisis.

Given this reality, the process or procedure for creating a new constitution and its minimum essential progressive content must be in accord with the following points:

a) The Process or Procedure for Creating a New Constitution

b) Minimum Essential Content of the New Constitution

c) Final Content of the New Constitution

It is our view that there can and should be agreement and understanding about the minimum essential content of a new, progressive constitution among those political forces that desire a progressive political resolution to the current crisis. However, since it is the Constituent Assembly, with no restrictions placed upon it, that will make the new constitution, it would be inappropriate, both in principle and in practice, to determine its whole character and all its particular features at this time.

On the matter of appropriate minimum essential content, the political forces should go to the people and present their ideas on organization of the state and other progressive content according to their own outlook and principles. It is surely self-evident, and must be agreed upon by all, that it is the people who will make the final determination.

2) National and Socio-Economic Issues

3) Human Rights and Immediate Relief and Rehabilitation

F. Implementation and Monitoring

1) Items agreed to by both parties during the talks must be implemented within the specified period of time. In order to monitor implementation of agreements made during the peace talks, an impartial monitoring team must be created.

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