Koirala: King's Actions Leading Nepal to Republic

Prime Minister Koirala has changed the tone on monarchy which is a welcome move. He most come forward more clearly, precisely, and strongly.

Finally, the man has said something important about monarchy in Nepal. This is very crucial and we applaud Koirala whatever he spoke today in his hometown Biratnagar. The time for celebrations hasn’t come yet but all roads are leading us to that direction. Koirala said that the nation was heading down the path of republic because of king Gyanendra and added: The king himself had cleared the way for republican setup in the country because his [Democracy Day] message was aiding elements engaged in “destabilizing” the nation. Koirala was speaking to journalists in Biratnagar today. The Prime Minister said that the king had misinterpreted his call for allowing “space for all”. “If the king and crown prince are willing to give up their throne by their own volition … a new environment can still be created,” the PM said. Asked why republic could not be announced through the Interim Legislature-Parliament straightaway when the king had “cleared the path” to this end, the PM said that the position of the king would be decided only after the Constituent Assembly (CA) since it had already been agreed to let the first sitting of the CA decide on the matter. Stating that the actions against the king had already been initiated, ekantipur reports, PM Koirala further said that the king’s privileges are being curtailed and property investigated. The parliament has already directed the government to take action against the king after the widespread condemnation of the royal statement.

Prime Minister’s thoughts on monarchy come at a time when the Maoists have been stressing on declaring Nepal a republic right away via the parliament where as second largest party in the ruling Seven Party Alliance (SPA) is pressing to replace the present king with his grandson. And, of course, overwhelming majority of people is strongly favoring Nepal sans monarchy.

Nepal in Transition and Its Difficulties

By Chattra Bahadur

Nepal is at throes of change and transition appears difficult than anticipated. Of course, transition is never easy anywhere since it calls for dismantling of existing mechanisms and structures to be replaced by newer mechanisms and structures. And this is where we have collectively failed to take adequate measures.

Present political scenario in Nepal exactly points at our failure to chart the course of actions clearly to achieve the broader objectives. The irony of current situation is that our political leaders are quick and eager to provide perceptual impression of ‘change’ whereas, in reality, everything has remained the same, except for the authoritarian rule of the King. And, even the editorials of national newspapers and political commentators frequently forewarn that, if present trend continues, the authoritarian rule of the King may be replaced by the authoritarian rule of the SPA and the Maoists.

The SPA, alliance with diverse political ideologies, joined hands to achieve two objectives, rising above their respective political interests; the objectives being, to bring back democracy and to bring the Maoists to the political ‘mainstream’. Though the Maoists are not able to provide credible evidence of behavioral change, at least they have signed the peace deal renouncing their bloody armed struggle. At the same time, though ‘inclusive’ democracy has been widely publicized, the functioning of the political parties and actions of the functionaries of political parties often fail to provide assurance of ‘inclusive’ democracy.

On each political rally, on each press conference, on each political speech, on each page of newspaper, and on each interview, ‘new’ Nepal finds reference as long-term priority. And the first step to create ‘new’ Nepal, as any speaker clarifies, is the elections to the Constituent Assembly and the new Constitution that it will prepare and promulgate. To put it simply, there is broad consensus that the immediate priority is the elections of the Constituent Assembly and long-term priority is prosperous and equitable ‘new’ Nepal.

However, the actions of various stakeholders appear working against the very cause that they all have joined together to achieve. The Maoists, for instance, have not shown sincerity to upkeep the peace deal with the SPA. Their strong-arm tactics, extortion, vandalism, and brutal repression of any opposition have continued unabated. The frequent strong-worded statements that veil threats, unsubstantiated allegations, and statements without accountability of the Maoists leadership will not help the process of the Constituent Assembly elections. The government, on other hand, appears meek and feeble in handling any situation either head-on or proactively. It must understand that some situations require stern actions since its foremost responsibility is the safety and security of the citizens. In fact, negotiation about everything under-the-sun may not be applicable in all situations and, definitely, it is not panacea in itself. Other political parties continually place onus of failures on the government, whereas they themselves are part of the government holding important portfolios. It appears that they intentionally fail to understand that the failure of the government is the failure of the respective political parties as well.

In totality, stakeholders are caught in other peripheral issues rather than addressing the immediate priority. For the Constituent Assembly elections to acquire any credibility, three issues appear important: distribution of citizenship cards to the excluded groups, law and order situation, and understanding of why and how the Constituent Assembly elections define the future of Nepal and her citizens.

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