NEW YORK, September 24, 2008 - Following a year of historic upheaval for Nepal—the abolition of the monarchy, the election of a Constituent Assembly, and the ushering in of a Maoist-led government—the newly-elected Prime Minister and head of the Maoist Communist Party CPN (M), Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda,” offered assurances of democracy and economic development in his first public address in the United States at the Asia Society.
Prachanda welcomed the enormous task of charting new Nepal’s transformation, promising policies that put the divergent aspirations of the people at their center. He called for “rapid growth and distributive justice” to guide Nepal’s socioeconomic revolution, to lift Nepal’s poor and empower those historically marginalized.
While acknowledging the daunting challenges ahead, he outlined the government’s three immediate objectives: to lead the peace process to a successful conclusion; write an inclusive and democratic constitution; and deliver economic prosperity to a country where nearly one-third of the population suffers in extreme poverty.
In response to questions regarding his communist ideology, Prachanda argued that the battle at hand is against Nepal’s feudal past, not capitalism. “We are fighting against feudal property relations, feudal political structure, not capitalist mode of production,” he said.
Prachanda heralded the private sector and its potential to deliver much-needed economic development, and emphasized the importance of attracting foreign investment. He affirmed his commitment to Nepal’s new “democratic phase” and the need to protect political freedoms and a multiparty system—in his view a necessity for any vibrant society.
He concluded on an optimistic note, with assurances that Nepal will realize its full potential and reclaim its place as a “dignified member of the international community.”
The conversation was moderated by Tamrat Samuel, Deputy Director, Asia and the Pacific Division Department of Political Affairs, United Nations.
Reported by Laura Chang
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Listen to the entire program (58 min., 48 sec.)