In an interview with this writer for The Hindu newspaper last week, Maoist chairman Prachanda explained the sudden decision to send the Nepal Army to the cantonments, revealed the possible meeting points on constitutional issues, said that he would have no objection to an NC-led government promulgating the constitution, and declared his personal ambition of wanting “5-10 years” to “implement his vision”. But the bit that has drawn the most attention here in Kathmandu is his public acknowledgment of India’s role in Nepal’s political transformation—from the 12-point agreement, to the CA elections, to the declaration of republic and the progress in the peace process.
Expectedly, ultra-nationalist websites have latched onto this as proof of Prachanda’s “subservience”; right wing stalwarts have the “We told you so” smug look about how they were right all along that this was an external plot. In a different context, there has also been commentary projecting India’s current phase of engagement with the Maoist as somewhat opposed to the Nepali people’s aspirations for peace and democracy.
It would be useful to look at the several issues enmeshed here separately, based on the evidence currently available. Continue reading On the India hand in Nepal →
Five years after a peace accord marked the end of a decade long civil war, Nepal’s political transformation has entered its final phase.
On May 27, 2012, the term of the Constituent Assembly — extended four times beyond its original two-year term — will expire. And this time, politicians will not find it easy to give the CA another lease of life due to a judicial stricture. The Supreme Court (SC) has declared that the current extension is final, and if the constitution is not promulgated, there should be another election or referendum. There is also rising popular pressure to wrap up the prolonged transition, which has been accompanied by abysmal service delivery.
That gives the political forces less than three months to wrap up the peace process and write a constitution. Together, this will shape the nature of Nepal’s political institutions and security apparatus. Continue reading The Final Countdown in Nepal →
The Maoist ‘postponement’ of the general strike has drawn diverse reactions. Ruling parties have projected it as a victory of democracy, constitutionalism, and law and a massive defeat for the Maoist ‘politics of blackmail’. Sections of the media and civil society that had urged the Maoists to pull back feel it is a result of popular pressure exerted by the peace rally on Friday morning. And while some Moist leaders and cadre are reported to be confused, demoralized, and angry at the leadership for letting go, others are hopeful that this will pave the way for an agreement on peace and constitution.
The responses are naturally shaped by one’s own location on the political spectrum. But what it ignores is that there is a complex set of factors that led to the Maoist decision. The non-Maoist euphoria also glosses over the fact that the strike was not the problem; it was only a symptom of the problem. And while the strike is off for now, those underlying issues remain unresolved.
The Maoists made four miscalculations. Continue reading Tactical Retreat? →
This post comes to us from Menaka Guruswamy
Constitution-making is a process involving a contested terrain and this is reflected in Nepal’s political situation today, particularly
on the question of integration of rebel combatants into the army and its “democratisation”. It is important for Nepal’s political parties and forces to leave aside their past mistrust and come together to reach an equitable settlement while integrating combatants. Political foresight is also needed to appreciate that democratisation of all institutions, including the army, is imperative for creating the new constitutional democracy that is Nepal.
This piece originally appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly, February 2010, Vol. XLV No.9
Guruswamy EPW Nepal
India can continue to let its suspicion of the Maoists be the over-riding objective of its Nepal policy or seek to play a pro-active role in engineering the kind of consensus it has done since 2005.
First published in The Hindu yesterday.
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao arrives in Kathmandu on her maiden visit today, at a time when Nepal is grappling with its most serious and prolonged political crisis since the peace process began. India has to make certain difficult policy choices, reconcile the contradictions between its stated aims and actions, determine whether it remains committed to the process it helped facilitate, and use its leverage accordingly.
The fragile Madhav Nepal-led ruling coalition faces a severe crisis of legitimacy and a belligerent Maoist opposition. The Maoists have boycotted the legislature-parliament, paralysing government business to the extent that the budget has not yet been passed. They have demanded a house discussion on President Ram Baran Yadav’s “unconstitutional action” over-riding the Maoist government’s decision to sack the then Army Chief General Rukmangad Katawal in early May — a demand rejected by the other parties in government who see no wrong in what the President did. The Maoists have also launched a street movement, with the slogan of instituting “civilian supremacy” and a “Maoist-led national government.” Continue reading Engaging Nepal: some difficult questions →