Nepal Maoists call for party unity

Kathmandu: Nepal's ruling Maoist party today underlined the need for unity in the organisation, amid deepening differences as the former rebels marked 17th anniversary of the "peoples' war" which began in 1996.

Top leaders of the UCPN-Maoist, including the party supremo Prachanda and senior Vice chairman Mohan Vaidya Kiran addressed a grand rally at Open Theatre in the heart of the capital Kathmandu.

The Maoists, who waged a decade-long insurgency, joined mainstream politics after a 2006 peace deal with the interim government led by G P Koirala.

The Maoists, who took up arms on February 13, 1996 to topple the monarchy, were instrumental in declaring Nepal a republic after centuries of monarchy in 2008.

Amid deepening differences in the ultra-left organisation, chairman Prachanda "ruled out the possibility of split in the Maoist party".

Terming "the dispute in the party as natural process", he underlined that "it was essential to maintain cohesion within the party."

He credited the Maoist party for "progress made in the peace process," as he claimed that it has "substantially moved forward".

However, Vaidya, a hardline leader who has openly accused the party leadership of moving away from its core ideology, expressed dissatisfaction over the state of affairs in the organisation.

Even as he claimed "the party has not been able to achieve its goal despite leading the coalition government," he "called for party unity".

Underlining the need for greater interaction in the party, he said "debate and discussion are common in a communist party".

Prachanda and general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ said in a message on the occasion that the "Nepalese revolution is heading towards the decisive turning point of great possibilities and serious challenges".

"We revise our strong resolution and firm commitment to move forward in the direction of ceaseless revolution to make the great dreams of martyrs come true," they said in a statement.

More than 16,000 people were killed and thousands others were displaced during the decade-long insurgency.

The Maoists emerged as the single largest party following the landmark Constituent Assembly elections in 2008.

The Assembly, which functions as the interim parliament, was a key demand of the Maoists, but it has failed to conclude the peace process and draft a new constitution for the country, the twin tasks for which the House was set up.