Nepal: Still in Political Deadlock

 

Author: Parveen Kaswan (Profile)

 

In 2006 a 10-year-old insurgency successfully ended with the abolition of a 240-year-old monarchy in Nepal. But even after six years of that moment Nepal is still surrounded by  same kind of political conflicts. However, the long instability in post-war era in Nepal since 2006 has frustrated many including International and National communities. The transition has continued longer than necessary in a country where situation is not good, roughly 25 percent of its 27 million people still struggle to survive on a little more than a dollar a day.

The special character  of Nepal’s demography is that there is no major ethnic community; each minority group is dominant in some parts; many have social and economic relationship and shared culture with other groups as is common in any multi-ethnic nations around the world. That gives it a complex formation. Nepal has many political parties including many small parties also.

However, from the religious perspective, 80.6% are Hindu, 10.7% Buddhist, 4.2% Muslim and 4.5% follow other religion making Nepal Hindu dominant state and it has remained so since hoary antiquity. 1

During the ten year long armed rebellion against the monarchy [1996-2006], majority of the masses in both Rural and Urban  areas supported the Maoists. However, the Maoists captured nearly 40% of the 602- member Constituent Assembly and they wanted to have a democratic centralism akin to the former Soviet Union. But the other 60% member of Constituent Assembly opposed it for all sorts of reasons.

Nepal flag

The process of writing a new constitution has floundered and long overdue elections have been delayed. The 12 point agreement between different parties  solved many problems in Nepal but the same consensus could not be continued. This is the first instance in history where a constitution assembly was formulated and also extended but came out with no constitution at all.  Even it was not decided how to hold further elections and the Federal modal of the country.

There was a caretaker govt headed by Maoist leader Baburam Bhatari but it was rejected  by Non-Maoist party’s. So the president Mr. Ram Baran Yadav asked them to come up with a government based on consensus. Unfortunately the political parties could not reach to a consensus and  they could not even choose a prime minister. From that time the Idea of a neutral and independent person heading the government is being discussed.

In a quick move in this month Maoist proposed Chief Justice as the Prime Minister of Nepal for conducting  a free and fair election. But unfortunately it also didn’t work well. 2 Some parties agreed to a non-political interim government under the incumbent chief justice of the Supreme Court to hold election in the first week of June this year, the major political forces have opened themselves to withering criticism from many quarters.

The idea of having an election-conducting interim government under the country’s sitting chief justice has seen sharp reactions from many spheres including  political class, legal community and civil society taking sides for or against it.  In past also, there were many name floated like this but they never reached up to a consensus.

Those against this new proposal cite the principle of separation of powers, pointing out the “risks” of having the same person heading both the executive and judicial branches of the government. But the truth is that the solution of every problem in Nepal is an election. If political parties will make up to the election, people will solve every problem. Situation also get worse when most of the constitutional posts are vacant in the country (  for example posts in  Election Commission,  Judiciary and in various Investigating Agencies).

All the major parties while agreeing on the Chief Justice as PM also want to control him. There are many parties which are not confident  about the outcome of election. So everybody wants a share in the government while going in the next election. But  nothing is coming out and last week the Maoist leaders have rejected all previous proposals to replace him on the issue of ‘Amnesty’.3 As an outcome, other political parties have refused to allow elections while Mr. Bhattarai and his allies hold the levers of government, projecting his oversight would make the elections unfair.

In the last proposal people of Nepal were looking a new hope for a stable civic system. But same as earlier, it got rejected now worsening the paralysis of the country’s civic functions. One thing is very clear that election is the only way to resolve all kind of political conflicts in Nepal. Only the coming days will tell the complete story.

References:
1. The Kathmandu Post: State restructuring: SRC fails to offer a way out accessed on 25th feb.
2. PUCL: Maoists propose chief justice as Nepal’s next Prime Minister accessed on 25th Feb.
3.New York Times: Maoists Block Deal to Break Nepal’s Long Political Deadlock accessed on 25th Feb.

 

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