Bid to take us to The Hague thwarted: PM

HETAUDA, FEB 07 - Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Wednesday said the UCPN (Maoist)’s continuation in the government has prevented a ‘counter-revolution’ and thwarted a conspiracy to drag Maoist leaders to The Hague on charges of war-crimes.

The PM’s comments follow criticism from representatives at the party’s seventh General Convention over his government’s ‘poor

performance.’

“The revival of the conflict-era case in Dailkeh shows that we averted a counter-revolution by remaining in government,” a source quoted PM Bhattarai as having told the 4,100 delegates. “Had we not been in government, we would have been dragged to (the International Criminal Court) The Hague.”

Presenting conclusions of Wednesday’s group discussions, the delegates had said that the party should leave the government if it cannot solve national problems.

Speaking at the closed session, PM Bhattarai stressed that the party should not leave the government until there is a proper alternative in place. Bhattarai admitted that he himself was dissatisfied with his stay in government, but had decided to stay put as the move would be ‘counterproductive’ to the party.

 “I have never faced a court in my life. But after becoming prime minister, I have appeared before it three times for standing in favour of the class of people that I represent,” the PM said. Bhattarai appeared before the Supreme Court on January 28 to furnish explanations for allegedly interfering in investigations into the 2004 murder of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa. The court had summoned Bhattarai after he reportedly asked his legal advisor to intervene, claiming that conflict-era cases should be taken up by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and not the regular criminal justice system. Before arriving in Hetauda for the convention last week, Bhattarai filed a case in the apex court, demanding annulment of its January 15 order that instructed the prosecution of those involved in Thapa’s murder, regardless of the formation of the TRC.

However, analysts said the PM’s claim that the Maoists would be dragged to The Hague is not true. “Nepal has yet to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Only war crimes committed after Nepal ratifies the statute would fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC, not those committed in the past,” said human rights activist Mandira Sharma. However, the growing culture

of impunity would act against Nepal, she said. Bhattarai further said the party should formulate a ‘right strategy’ to make an alliance with federalist forces and govern the country for at least 20 years. He said the political impasse should end by holding fresh Constituent Assembly elections. “It is our achievement that we governed the country for a year-and-a-half by keeping the Congress and UML, who ruled this country for 20-22 years, outside,” said Bhattarai. Bhattarai divided his two-hour address into five chapters—party ideology, judgement of history and internal struggle, strategy, organisation and leadership and solution to the political deadlock. He heaped praises on party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, saying that he was the ‘leader of all leaders.’ He was, however, quick to add that the party must not be under Dahal’s total control. Bhattarai said he will always advocate for the right to put dissenting views up for discussions in the party. He added that he would stand firm for the party chairman and that it is also necessary that Dahal trusts leaders within the party.

Responding to criticism from cadres for his alliance with Mohan Baidya in the Dhobighat meet, the PM clarified that the alliance was intended for organisational reforms and not to oust Dahal as chairman. Though Baidya had proposed removing Dahal as the parliamentary party leader, Bhattarai said he had opposed the idea. The split in the UCPN (Maoist) was a wrong calculation on Baidya’s part and that his party had now taken “the path to hell,” Bhattarai said.

The PM also criticised Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha for adopting a rigid stance on national sovereignity. Bhattarai said agreements similar to the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Act should be signed with other countries to

promote the economy.

Posted on: 2013-02-07 08:34