a report by Conflict Study Center
Contributed by: Bishnu Pathak, PhD and Chitra Niraula
“The whole nation is heading towards a republican system, and the wave of sensation in support of a republican set up has arrived at the point of diffusion.” Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala
Background: On the evening of November 4, at 7.55 PM, the Interim Parliament (IP) decided to go for federal democratic republic set up prior to the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections and for fully proportional election system by a simple majority voice vote. The IP endorsed the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) amendment proposal of republic and the CPN (Maoist) proposal of fully proportional election system (FPES). The Maoists withdrew their urgent public importance proposal of immediate declaration of republic from the IP and supported the UML’s proposal in the interest of working unity amongst the communist factions. In turn, the UML supported the Maoists proposal of the FPES. The Rastriya Prajantra Party (RPP) also supported the Maoist’s motion on the full proportional representation but voted against the motion for republican setup.
Nepal Workers and Peasants Party shored up its own amendment proposals of federal socialist republic and for mixed member proportional election system (representation). Nepali Congress (NC) and Rastriya Janashakti Party (RJP) went against the both motions. Nepal Sadbhawana Party and United Left Front led by C.P. Mainali remained neutral and did not vote, saying their parties did not want the seven-party alliance to divide on such voting. At the end of the special session tabled by the Maoists of the IP, the speaker directed to the government to immediately proceed for making necessary (both political and legal) arrangements for announcing a country federal democratic republic and FPES prior to the country going for CA elections. However, the IP failed to gather the two-thirds majority to instantly declare the country a republic by amending the interim constitution.
Supremacy: Parliament vs. Interim Constitution
The issues of execution: legal, moral, political and technical resolutions implications have become an subject of public interest after the majority of IP members endorsed the above motion. Maoists have stated that they followed Girija’s leadership so far and demanded NC to follow IP’s resolution accordingly. The IC requires being amended in order to execute the resolutions and a two-third majority is necessary for that and amending the date of CA election; which could be achieved only if the seven-partys reach a concensus.
The mandates of the Popular Movement II were advancing the dialogue with Maoists, drafting of IC inclusive of Maoists, include Maoists in the IP and Interim Government (IG), and holding the CA. The spirit of the IC is to hold CA through conduction of State affairs in consensus of the Seven-party alliance. Nevertheless, the IP is polarized, where NC is in the minority and UML+Maoists+others became the majority. If, the government fails to execute the resolution, it is against the spirit of IP. However, the execution is only possible if the IC amended by its two-third majority. The present government has landed itself in a serious challenge. The polarization in the IP has produced antagonism (US-model majority vs. minority), but the urgent need is stronger alliance or cooperation and collaboration or partnership (European-model inclusive democracy). The parties should realize the seriousness of the issue rather than taking it as a win-loose game.
The challenges from when the republic will function in action and the monarchy will be abolished are critical. Similarly, the restructuration of the State for the federal structure government is a grave technical challenge. On the course to identify the actual number of population, Madhesi, Janajati and Dalit groups are demanding for census prior to CA polls. These constructions would require at least two years completing before the CA election.
The UML has informally proposed change of leadership by saying Budho goru le sandhai gai ogatnu hunna (The old bull should not always occupy the cow). Badal, a Maoist leader, said that they are not bound to accept the NC leadership forever if NC leadership is not in favor of amendment to the IC to execute the house resolutions. The present situation of Nepal is at the middle of the four stages of conflict: discussion, polarization, segregation and destruction. Although the NC voted against the resolution, while the Prime Minister did not cast his vote in the IP as the leader of the SPA, UML and Maoists are steadfast to their demands to amend the IC. But, the wondering part is that the PM himself whipped his party members’ not to caste vote in favor of communist proposed proposals. The positions and stands of NC and UML+Maoists would lead to the collapse of the current alliance and the rise of Madhav Kumar Nepal (UML) to leadership. Considering this, the PM, who is also the Head of the State, has told his close associates and family members during an informal gathering that his reflection is declining and the alliance forces are going to abandon him soon. He looks tired and shrinks to meet the media along with his close associates after house resolutions. His conclusion that the present situation is in favor to the king seems valid. Although the leadership might change, the problems could not be resolved soon.
Possible army coup d’état
A top-secret meeting on Nov 2, 2007 of senior army officials was going on at the Army HQ under the leadership of the Army Chief while urgent public importance discussions were in the IP. Brigadier Dilip Rayamajhi, son of ex-President of Privy Council Dr. Keshar Jung Rayamajhi, submitted a strategic working paper in the meeting. The spirit of which is that the Nepal Army has to be prepared for excellent measures because of the inefficiency of the government and alliance pushing the country into imprisionment of insecurity, mismanagement and indecision. It also proposed that the Army would not abide by the ‘other’ government except the CA in the future. The three-hour meeting concluded that they have to maintain full material and spiritual preparations if they are bound to fight a war. Generals Netra Bahadur Thapa, Bajra Gurung and Shiva Ram Pradhan strongly supported Rayamajhi’s proposal. The Army Chief asked all to keep the meeting confidential and thanked all for their active participations and contributions at the end . The Army, whose senior officials were close to the monarchy, had put pressure on the PM against the federal republic, which could have caused the PM to remain neutral. There is a strong possibility of army coup in favor of monarchy if unity among the SPA polarizes to be broken on the course to implement the House resolutions.
The people are concerned with their safety, security and survival because of daily occurance of threats, violence, disappearances, extortions, murder, rape, torture and so on rather than CA polls. A total of 115 individuals have been killed, according to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), since November 7, 2006 (signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord) in a year. Of these, Madhise Janadhikar Forum killed 30; Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha or JTMM (Jwala) killed 11; and JTMM (Goit) killed 9. Similarly, security Forces killed 10; Maoists killed 5; Tarai Cobra and Tarai Bagi killed 1 each; Kapilvastu Social Massacre 14; unknown groups killed 19; and unclaimed bomb blasts killed 15. During this period, the disappearances estimated at 1,098 of which the Security forces are accountable to 77% and Maoists 23%. The NHRC recommended 147 identified perpetrators for action of which only 36% were carried out. A large number of Pahade-origin government employees and residents in Tarai are being threatened and forced to leave their work and home. Unless the Tarai problem is resolved through dialogue involving all violent and non-violent actors, CA polls could not possibly hold. They are still continuing their struggle although their key demand of full proportionate election system has been passed by the IP. Round table conference of all the actors in each district, regional (mid-level) and central levels to identify and address the issues need to be conducted with priority.
The UN Secretary General’s recent report to the Security Council states Nepal’s situation is at a crossroads and it regrets due to its minimal role in the peace process in Nepal. UNMIN has stated in a press conference that it has focussed on three issues: peace process monitoring, security sector assistance (transformation of Maoist ex-combatants to Nepal Army) and promotion of public security service, to raise its profile by extending its tenure for a year.
The government has accepted to extend the tenure for a year of UNMIN without expanding its role whereas the Maoists, which played a key role to invite UNMIN, are in favor to extend for only six months. UNMIN’s tenure will terminate on January 22, 2008, if not extended. Few stalwarts of Human Rights Organizations, operating mostly under the umbrella of key political parties, are clamoring for increasing the tenure as well as the scope of UNMIN, and are lobbying with the political parties. Their interest rests on their day-dream to work as a partner for UNMIN’s imported role. These elites have penetrated quite a lot of their activists in UNMIN’s senior positions too. They are following the tactics to empower themselves rather than empowering the peace process for the sake of country and people.
India and China, both are not happy with the extension of role and term for UNMIN indirectly due to their insufficient activities and penetration of US detectives upon it. The aware political leaders of mainstream parties are not satisfied with the past actions of UNIMIN. UNMIN has been criticized for its meetings with the armed and violent Madhes groups that resulted in intensification of their violence. This could be the cause behind their proposal to UNMIN’s mediation for talks with the government. Many asserted UNMIN’s meeting with them is as a political intervention. But, UNMIN has declined that it has met with the Madhesi leaders, rather it met with only the ‘marginalized groups’ and stated that it would meet with them in the future too. Many intellectuals and politicians have claimed that UNMIN has fueled the Madhes Movement and this contributed to deferral of the CA polls on time in addition to other political factors. The masses feel Kag lai bel pakyo harsa na bismat (What use is the ripened wood-apple for a crow?). People in general, seeing no relevance and importance of UNMIN, have been quiet to its duties and roles for extension and expansion. It seems that confirmist forces are happy because they are reaping the fruits of the conflict and peace, whereas the forward-looking forces feel deceived and deprived.
The two mandates for UNMIN are monitoring of arms/armies and support CA election. Although it has been more or less performing its actions for the first, the election support team has landed in a critical juncture. UNMIN has announced to terminate the team except two dozen experts (most international and a few national staffs). The mushrooming projects of International Institutions and inflow of International Experts have become perplexed and paralyzed because of deferral of the polls.
The Proposal on Urgent Public Importance was discussed between the political parties formally and informally within and outside the IP for 25 days. Although the NC resolved to republic in its General Assembly, it declined to proclaim it immediately because it could not be implemented and stood for deciding on it by the first meeting of CA according to Comprehensive Peace Agreement. But, it put deaf ears to the Full Proportionate Representative Election System.
People in general suspect that there could have been an impious-deal with the monarchy since it is part and parcel of conformist forces based on its 50-years history. These are evident by the publications of the autobiography of Biseshwar Prasad Koirala and Girija Prasad Koirala. The NC tried by hook or by crook through international and national channels to draw UML closer to itself and take away further from the Maoists. The international force was bewildered when the UML and other left forces joined neck-to-neck with the Maoists at the end and the components of the international force is continuously discussing why it has happened.
Our assumptions behind this are:
(i) the issue of implementation of the IP resolution would intensify the gap between the NC and communist factions, which would transfer the power to the UML and so the leftists might have come together;
(ii) China’s diplomatic role might have promoted UML and the Maoists to come closer,
(iii) the USA might have played a part to decrease the powerful influence and role of India in Nepal,
(iv) the European forces, who came to realize that the NC is not able towards forward looking changes in development and governance, might have contributed to fill the gap between UML and Maoists, and
(v) the intellectual forces in India that are for a strong progressive force of power in Nepal could have played their role to bring UML and the Maoists closer.
The working unity between the communist factions has opened the vista for increasing and strengthening their unity for CA elections. The UML’s clamors to go for the polls without change in the state leadership seem to be its legwork for the leadership if the SPA is crushed. The NC fueled the Madhes Movement to wipe out the Maoists and they were successful to some extent. The UML also raised the issues of Janajatis in Mountains and Hills to counter the Maoists and they too were successful to some extent. The Maoists, realizing their weakened position in both tarai and mountains/hills, adopted strategies to delay the polls. The recent IP resolution thwarted both the UML and NC relating to the issues raised by Janajatis, dalits and Madhesi. The international political forces that have had protracted influence in Nepal, found that their politico-diplomacy failed, to their revulsion, for the first time in the history of Nepal. Nepali people want to see their roles suggestive rather than political vested interests, that is the inherent right of a sovereign and independent country.
The Speaker, belonging to UML, has directed the government to immediate implementation of the IP resolution, whereas the Minister of Education and Sports, belonging to the UML, has overtly opposed this, stating that the resolution is against the Constitution.
Hypothesis: Whiter Nepal?
1. There could be a joint communist governmemt since their combined number is the majority in the IP, which could result in the walkout of NC and Sadbhavawana (A) from the SPA. The NC, considered a fish out of water outside state-power, will fall into quagmire.
2. The NC could again split, because Sher Bahadur Deupa is being pushed into a corner by the pro-Monarchial/Conformist forces to lead NC as Girija Prasad Koirala failed to provide active leadership.
3. People’s Mandate for the Popular Movement II was the establishment of a republic and holding of CA elections as soon as possible. The delay for fulfilling the mandate and continuation of the interim coalition government would finally lead to pratikranti (revolt against the mainstream political forces) that would collapse the current status of political leaders.
4. The pro-monarchila and conformist forces could join their force together overtly and covertly against the communist and left forces culminating to a coup d’état. In which case, the Nepali Army belives that the coup would be different than the earlier one in February 1, 2005 done by Gyanendra, which could attain support from the international communities.
5. The contradictory provisions in the IP Resolution and the IC would finally widen the rift between the NC and the Maoists that would pave the way for the latter to go to the streets for Popular Movement III, with the back up of ex-combatants and YCL. That may be similar to the October Revolution. Because only two demands out of 22 have been addressed by the IP.
6. If the current demands of classes, castes, cultures, regions, etc. of the country are not resolved by tracing out the problem-solving methods, the country will face disastrous socio-cultural violence and may turn the unity in diversity of Nepal into a wartorn society.
Contributed by: Bishnu Pathak, PhD and Chitra Niraula, edited by: Joseph Bergson
Assisted by: Kaushila Dhimal and Ganga Puri