After 9 years, US strikes Maoists off terrorist list
State Department says the Maoists are no longer engaged in terrorist activity that threatens US nationals’ security
KATHMANDU, SEP 07 -
The United States has removed the Maoist party from its terrorist list, saying that the former rebel party has demonstrated a credible commitment to pursuing the peace and reconciliation process in Nepal.
In a statement issued in Washington on Thursday, the US Department of State announced the revocation of the terrorist tag that was placed on the then CPN (Maoist) party in October 2003. The US had considered the fight against Nepal’s Maoists to be a part of global war against terror after the terrorist attack of 9/11 in New York.
“After a thorough review, the Department has determined that the CPN (M) is no longer engaged in terrorist activity that threatens the security of US nationals or US
foreign policy,” the State Department said.
“This delisting reflects the United States’ resolve to keep our terrorism sanctions current and demonstrates that a group need not stay on a terrorist list forever should it demonstrate a credible commitment to pursuing peace and reconciliation,” it added.
The then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, had visited Kathmandu in 2002 to enlist the then king’s support to the global war on terror and to reinforce US support to a coercive approach on the Maoists. The US had provided military support to the then royal government before the February 2005 royal takeover to battle the Maoist insurgency.
The decision to remove the Maoists from the list comes six years after the end of the insurgency in the country. Coincidentally, the announcement coincides with the date of the resumption of the integration of former Maoist combatants in the Nepal Army.
The Maoists declared an end to the civil war and joined mainstream politics after signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in November 2006. They
were elected the largest party in the Constituent Assembly elections in 2008.
The US had continued diplomatic engagement with the Maoists after the end of the conflict and had of late conveyed that it was preparing to revise its position on the former rebels. The Maoists and its aliases were currently listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224, and as a “ terrorist organization” from the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL) under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Earlier, the US government had imposed visa restrictions on Maoist leaders and had banned them from making property transactions with Americans, citing the party’s terror tag.
“With these actions, the CPN (M)’s property and interests in property in the US or within the possession or control of US persons will no longer be blocked, and US entities may engage in transactions with CPN (M) without having to obtain a licence,” the department said on Thursday.
According to diplomatic cables released by the whistle blower website Wikileaks last year, US diplomats had passed on a non-paper in 2009 to the Maoist leadership outlining benchmarks they should fulfill to be removed from the terrorist list. The benchmarks included renouncing the use of terrorism and violence, reformation of the Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League, addressing US concerns about the killing of two embassy guards in 2001 and the bombing of the American Centre in Kathmandu in 2004 and remaining engaged in the peace process.
A confidential cable sent by the then Charge d’ Affairs Jeffrey A Moon from Kathmandu in December 2009 states that the value of the terrorist label on the Maoists has largely eroded after the former rebels joined the peace process and emerged as the largest party in the CA elections. Thursday’s State Department statement notes that the Maoist party was elected the head of the coalition government in recent years and says that the party has taken steps to dismantle its apparatus for the conduct of terrorist operations.
The US has also appreciated the Maoist commitment to the peace and reconciliation process and clarified that delisting does not seek to overlook or forget the party’s violent past.
Prime Minister, DPM welcome move
Prime Minister, DPM welcome move
decision to remove the terrorist tag from the Maoists.
Prime Minister and UCPN (M) Vice-chariman Baburam Bhattarai said the move should clear doubts about the Maoists’ commitment to peace and democracy. “We have adopted the path of peace, constitution and democracy and the decision of the US government has proved us right,” he said. He said it would encourage the party to stand firm on peace, constitution and democracy. He further said it was expected that the US would remove the tag after the party’s entry in the peace process, its emergence as the largest party in the Constituent Assembly and after leading a coalition government.
Deputy PM and UCPN (M) Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha 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 terrorist tag had created an awkward situation,” he said. (PR)
Posted on: 2012-09-07 08:17