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Nepal Maoists enter Parliament
Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu | January 16, 2007 13:16 IST
Having waged an armed struggle for more than a decade, it was a quiet entry into the democratic fold for Maoists in Nepal as they waited patiently for over five hours to take oath as Parliamentarians.
Wearing grey coats, 73 hardcore Maoist cadres stood along with 10 independent members chosen by them in a separate room and waited patiently for the reinstated House of Representatives to be dissolved after promulgation of the Interim Constitution on Monday.
Interestingly for a section which had faith in gunpowder in the past, the Maoists have chosen a Buddhist monk as one of their independent representatives.
Among the other independents are a former major of the Royal Nepalese Army, an arch enemy in the past, and a journalist.
They were led by party spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara and arrived in a special room alloted to them in the Parliament building complex at 3.30 pm, and entered the main hall at 8.30 pm.
While the men were wearing trousers with grey coats, the women were wearing either a kurta or a sari with their coats.
Top Maoist leaders, including Prachanda, and No. 2 Baburam Bhattarai did not join the Parliament, but they were witness to the swearing-in ceremony from the audience lobby.
About a dozen diplomats, including Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee and US Ambassador James F Moriarty witnessed the historic event.
This time more women have been nominated for the new seats as the government and the eight political parties have made arrangements for up to one third of the seats being reserved for women.
Two of the female members of Parliament belonging to the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists) were widows, whose husbands were killed by Maoists in the past.
"I am very happy to join Parliament after 11 years of armed struggle," Maoist central committee member C P Gajurel said.
"We are here to build a new Nepal, totally different from the past," said a former woman guerilla fighter.
"With the promulgation of this Constitution, the monarchy has already been abolished in theory, but we have to wait till the Constituent Assembly polls slated for June to actually end the monarchy," Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara said addressing the first Parliament session.
The former rebels also joined journalists, government secretaries and ministers during the special lunch and dinner, which was provided by the Parliament Secretariat.