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Nepal’s polity continues to fracture July 5, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Dowler, Amy, Nepal , comments closed

Amy Dowler

On 19 June 2012 the ‘hardline’ faction of the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (UCPN-M) formally split to form a new party.  The new party, confusingly called the Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist (CPN-M), is led by former UCPN-M Vice-Chairman Mohan Baidya.  (Note the People’s Front of Judea-level subtlety of the move from a dash to a comma, to avoid replicating the title of yet another party).

Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist (Photo: CPN, Maoist)

Background

Since 28 May 2012 Nepal has been ruled by a self-styled transitional government with no constitutional basis.  The government is led by the UPCN-M, which had the most seats in the now dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA), and its Vice-Chairman Baburam Bhattarai has continued in his role as Prime Minister.

The transitional government arose after the CA’s failure to promulgate a new constitution by the 28 May deadline, itself a product of parties’ failure to agree on a basis for forming states.  Bhattarai has said his transitional government will remain in place until elections are held in November.  Opposition parties have been calling for Bhattarai’s resignation and either the reinstatement of the CA, or formation of a consensus government to oversee the fresh elections.

The ideological rift between Baidya and the ‘establishment faction’ of Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) and Vice-Chairman Bhattarai dates from 2005 when the Maoists embraced parliamentarianism.  (The UPCN-M itself was formed in 1995 when then-considered radicals Prachanda and Bhattarai split from another Communist party in reaction to its participation in the parliamentary process.)  Baidya was strongly opposed to the move, made while he sat in a jail in West Bengal, India (some say he blames Bhattarai for setting him up).      (more…)

Future unclear for Nepal June 1, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Dowler, Amy, Nepal , comments closed

Amy Dowler

At about quarter to midnight last Sunday night, fifteen minutes before the mandate of the constituent assembly (CA) he  led was due, Cinderella-like, to expire, Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai appeared on television sets across the country to deliver a live address.  Nepali speakers can listen to the full address on YouTube.

Chipladonga Protest Photo: Amy Dowler

Bhattarai confirmed what was already clear: last ditch efforts by Nepal’s three major parties – the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M)), Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN(UML)) – and the Madheshi Morcha (a confederation of parties representing people from the southernmost part of the Terai region who entered into a coalition with the CPN(M) to form government last August) had failed to bring consensus.  What was not clear was what would happen next.  Earlier in the week the Supreme Court quashed an attempt by the government to extend the CA for a further three months.  The NC and CP(UML) had been arguing that the constitution could still be promulgated by the 28 May deadline with outstanding issues  referred to the new, post-constitution CA.  There was talk of a constitutional crisis, of emergency rule.  Some ethnic minority groups claimed they would secede from Nepal and proclaim their own states should a satisfactory solution not be found by 28 May.

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Nepal: politicking without governing February 10, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Dowler, Amy, Nepal , comments closed

Amy Dowler

It was high farce on the streets of Kathmandu recently when Raj Lal Yadav attempted – unsuccessfully – to resign from his ministerial post in Nepal’s coalition government. Yadav is a member of the Madhesi Janaadhikari Forum-Republican Party, a junior partner in the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN(M))-led coalition. His dissatisfaction with his post was due ultimately to its meaninglessness. Despite frequent and well-publicised expressions of frustration, he remained minister without portfolio four months after his elevation to the ministry.

Two weeks ago Yadav finally decided his role was never going to grow substance and scheduled an appointment with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to tender his formal resignation. Unfortunately, the date of that appointment coincided with a bandh. Bandhs, city or nation-wide shutdowns called and enforced by various interest groups, are a much used political device in Nepal. During a properly enforced bandh motorised transport is prohibited (except in the case of emergencies, or tourists).

Not to be deterred, Yadav, along with his aides, took to the pavement to walk to the Prime Minister’s office at Singha Durba, the seat of Nepal’s government. Upon arrival he however discovered his efforts had been in vain: while it could not stop Yadav, the bandh had acted as a deterrent to the PM who decided against venturing to his office that day.

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Inching closer to sustainable peace in Nepal November 4, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : Dowler, Amy, Nepal , comments closed

Amy Dowler

On the evening of Tuesday 1 November 2011, leaders from each of Nepal’s major political parties reached agreement on the integration of former Maoist combatants into the country’s military. The agreement resolves the chief outstanding issue in the country’s protracted peace process, and should allow the Constituent Assembly to turn its full attention to the task of constitution drafting.

The seven-point agreement, designed to provide a “detailed blueprint for the completion of the peace process”, comes five years after the original peace agreement ending the decade-long People’s War, and three and a half years after Constituent Assembly elections, held in April 2008 (The Kathmandu Post). Since those elections – in which the Maoists received the highest share of votes but not an outright majority – Nepal has seen the back of four Prime Ministers, three of them arguably casualties of the former combatant integration issue.

Singha Durbar, Kathmandu

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