Following the worst act of violence in Nepal's six-year Maoist uprising came what may be the biggest political victory ever for a Nepalese Prime Minister. Certainly no official before him has won passage of a more contentious bill, and with a larger vote in his favor: last week Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba received a resounding 194-7 vote in favor of extending his State of Emergency legislation for another 90 days. The horror of the attacks in Western Nepal (see story) contributed immensely to the bill's success, but its passage showed that Deuba may be learning how to finally unify Nepal's fractious politicians—a unity that has proved elusive in the Himalayan nation's 12 years of multi-party democracy.
Prime Minister Deuba spoke with TIME's Thomas Laird two hours after his Parliament victory. Edited excerpts:
On the implications of the Emergency legislation's passage:
The whole of Nepal is united against terrorism. There is unprecedented support now for the fight against terrorism in Nepal. The vote tonight was clearly an expression of the outrage Nepalese feel at the attacks that the nation has been witnessing. We are united as never before.
On the attacks in Western Nepal:
Yes, the reports from the attack sites are true. At least several dozen decapitated bodies have been found in the woods around Sanfebagar. We could not identify these mutilated bodies because they do not even have heads. There is speculation that these may be the bodies of foreign fighters, but since they have no heads we cannot prove anything. But yes, it is possible the communists are mutilating their comrades after death to prevent identification. Though we do not know for certain why they are doing this, one thing is certain. Mutilation is a policy of the Maoists. We have found decapitated Maoists after several large Maoists attacks in the past few months. Decapitated bodies were found at Dang and at Salleri as well. At the very least this is a clear demonstration of their inhumanity.
On the possibility of peace negotiations with the rebels:
I have heard the Maoists' statements that they are ready for talks. As you know I tried to hold talks with them, I took their words sincerely, but the whole time they were simply preparing for further attacks. I no longer believe they are sincere about talks. If they are sincere let them lay down their weapons, then we can talk. They have deceived us in the past. Now we must see their actions: talk about talks is not enough.
On the Maoist rebels' training, equipment and methods:
I have heard the rumors that some retired British Gurkhas have joined the Maoists, and provided them with training. But my government has seen no evidence to support this rumor.
[The Maoists' explosives and weapons] have been smuggled into Nepal illegally, perhaps from India, but we have no evidence about this matter... India is cooperating in our fight against terrorism and I expect that cooperation will be forthcoming in every way.
The Maoists are beheading people and torturing people. They are mutilating the dead bodies of their own comrades, and those of our soldiers that they have murdered. They are recruiting children as young as 13 years old. They are using extortion and torture to coerce the support of innocent villagers. They claim they are doing this to help Nepal deal with the real problems we face. These methods they are using will never help. Let them give up violence and work within democracy to build a better Nepal. That is the only way forward."
On what some have called the lack of achievements during the first three months of the emergency:
One cannot make miracles overnight. We are facing a long fight.
I am ready to address the problems facing the country, but at the same time we cannot do that, we cannot develop the country, we cannot work for social equality-- we cannot do anything for Nepal without peace. I am eager to address the problems of the villagers. Ours is a rural country and the economy of the rural areas must be developed. To do any of this we must have peace. The inhumane methods being used by the Maoists will bring nothing but more suffering to the people of Nepal.
I appeal to the international community to give us your support at this time of crisis. We announced our firm support for the U.S. coalition against terrorism from the moment the U.S. asked for that support. I cannot believe that the US war against terrorism was meant for terrorism only in Afghanistan. I believe that the international coalition must address all forms of terrorism. We appeal for aid in our fight against terrorism in Nepal.