Nepal's Maoists welcome US move to remove them from blacklist
Describing as a "positive development" the US move to lift the terrorist tag from their party, Nepal's ruling Maoists today said the Obama administration has corrected the "wrong" decision of the past and it will help improve bilateral ties.
Welcoming the move Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said this has cleared doubts about the Maoists' commitment to peace and democracy.
"We have adopted the path of peace, democracy and constitution and the US move has proved that we are right," the Prime Minister said.
"It would encourage the party to stand firm on the cause of peace and democracy," he pointed out.
Bhattarai said the development was expected as the party has long back entered peaceful politics, emerging as the largest party in the Constituent Assembly and leading a coalition government.
"We welcome the decision of the US government to remove the terrorist tag from our party and we hope that our relations with the United States will move forward in a positive direction," Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha said.
"The decision taken by the US government earlier to put terrorist tag on our party was wrong and now they have corrected the move which is a positive development," he said.
He said the decision has opened new horizons of cooperation between the Maoists and the US government.
"We always wanted to maintain good ties with the US and they also treated us well... However, the terror tag had created an awkward situation, which has now ended," the senior Maoist leader pointed out.
His comments came a day after the US lifted sanctions on the Maoists and removed their party from the list of designated terrorist organisations, years after they had abandoned their armed struggle.
The State Department last night said in a statement that the US looks towards Maoists' continued engagement in a peaceful, democratic political dialogue in Nepal.
Shrestha said the US decision should have been taken long ago.
To a question, he said, "we have never made any attempt to establish bad relations with the US government."
The US had designated Prachanda-led Maoists as a terrorist entity in 2003 after they launched a 'People's War' against "the monarchical dictatorship" in Nepal in 1996. The party gained control of some rural areas throughout the country before joining a peace process in 2006.
In 2008, the party won general elections but faced tough time to govern in a coalition.
A year later, Prime Minister Prachanda resigned over a conflict with President Ram Baran Yadav regarding his decision to sack the then army chief Rookmangud Katawal.
Currently, Maoist Prime Minister Bhattarai has been running a caretaker government since May after the Constituent Assembly was dissolved as it failed to draft a new Constitution within the deadline.