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Nepal: shining future or end of the path?

This Magazine Staff

Today in Nepal, voting began for a new constituent assembly that may well chart a radically different course for the Himalayan country. The election comes after more than 10 years of warfare waged by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The main parties squaring off are the Maoists, the Communist Party of Nepal United Marxist-Leninist (essentially social-democrats, counter-intuitively to their name) and the Nepali Congress Party.
The Maoists, still publicly commited to their goal of world communism, have been brought to this point by a number of factors. First, although they have major support in the hill regions, they have been viewed suspiciously by Nepal’s urban middle classes, and see winning them over as critical to holding power country-wide. Second, The rapid success of their movement has ran far ahead of similar trends in South Asia, and the Maoists faced the possibility of running the undeveloped country with little or no external support. Third, the people of Nepal have been exhausted by the war and have been thirsting for peace.
The CPN(M) then, sees the push for a constituent assembly as a tactic in a complex dance to move their revolution forward in very unique circumstances.
It’s highly unorthodox for their ideological background, and very risky. Anything could happen, from a coup/Indian invasion to Maoist political hegemony, from a new phase in the civil war to the rebels being adopted into the political mainstream.

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