The government of current Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai came forward November 2 with a seven-point agreement to concede the transfer of power across Nepal’s major political parties. This is the most comprehensive peace deal the country has seen since the formation of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006 following the conclusion of a violent conflict between Maoists and the monarchy that continued until Nepal became a republic in 2008.
The lead up to the seven-point agreement has been tumultuous to say the least. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (Maoist) party of the Prime Minister, the Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist Leninists (UCPN-ML), the Nepali Congress (NC) and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) among other factions, have all been engaged in a long and arduous political standoff.
In addition to being a compromise between Nepal’s major political parties, the seven-point agreement is also aimed at the rehabilitation and reintegration of roughly 19,000 former Maoist combatants, putting 6,500 into the directorate Nepali Army (NA) with some carrying on armed military roles others into “non-combative” state security forces that would protect forests and respond to natural disasters. The remaining 12,500 are to receive compensation pay between Rs 500,000 and Rs 700,000, roughly between 6,000 and 8,000 USD. While there has been some bickering as to the amount of state funds that should be allocated to the rehabilitation project, the agreement was made nonetheless.
Some other key points of the plan are aimed at providing relief packages for combat victims and a truth and reconciliation commission, dissolving of the Young Communist League and other paramilitary groups, a return of “private and public properties” seized by the Maoists during the transition and the drafting of a constitution that represents all political parties.
Not only have all the parties come together to sign the agreement, prominent Madhesi parties such as the UDMF who have operated on the basis of representation of the subjugated populations of southern Nepal’s Terai region have given up on the call for an autonomous Terai. “We would be blamed for derailing the constitution drafting process if we stick to our one Madhes-one state stance,” said a Madhesi leader who preferred not to be named.
Although other separatist groups may not give up so easily, sources have said that parties who had once stood for one-state politics in the Terai will likely support the formation of two states. While Madhesis have been vocal for autonomy since 2008, the Tharu population of western Terai has not and delineating new borders has the potential to satisfy both groups. However, this could also be problematic for obvious reasons.
Despite its complexities, India’s Minister of External Affairs praised the seven-point agreement: “This agreement provides a firm basis for successfully concluding the remaining aspects of Nepal’s peace process. We congratulate the people and the political parties in Nepal for their commitment to peacefully resolving outstanding issues in a spirit of consensus and for displaying enlightened leadership.”
The seven-point agreement has served as the preeminent document composed by the Nepali government to conclude the peace process and assemble a new federation.