Prime Minister Prachanda Resigns

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ announced his resignation in a nationally broadcast TV address a while ago. With this the eight-month old Maoist rule has ended. This decision comes as a surprise to many while some have appreciated Dahal’s act as democratic. The Maoist party is the single largest in the Constituent Assembly that was elected in April 2008. The Maoist leader’s resignation comes in the wake of the controversy regarding the sacking of the chief of the army staff by his split cabinet yesterday. The cabinet meeting was boycotted by the alliance parter CPN UML who promptly took back its support to the government pushing it to the minority in the 600-seat constituent assembly. The cabinet decision was unilaterally taken by the Maoists. The decision was later declared unconstitutional by the President who reinstated the army chief. The Maoists have termed the President’s action as ‘constitutional coup.’ Finance Minister and senior Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has said that his party would hit the streets now demanding resignation of the President.

The President: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav issued a press statement just ahead of the Prime Minister’s address to the nation in which he said his yesterday’s decision to ask Army chief General Rookmangud Katawal to continue with post despite his dismissal by the cabinet constitutional. The President said his decision didn’t violate the constitutional provisions instead the Maoists sacked Katawal without consulting all its coalition partners in the government.

Why Nepal is Divided Over the Sacking of Army Chief?

It’s not so important to ask why the Maoists are sacking the Army Chief as it is to ask why the other parties are apposing this so strongly. Three reasons:

By Neil Horning

In a democracy, the Army should not be a center of power in the slightest. It is supposed to carry out the will of the elected government within the confines of the constitution. To illustrate, when Obama was elected, it was considered a novelty when he did not replace the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Thus, in assessing this development, I feel it’s not so important to ask why the Maoists are sacking the Army Chief as it is to ask why the other parties are apposing this so strongly.

There a couple of reasons why this could be so. In increasing importance:

1. The Army Chief has important friends in elite circles

Even in the US it’s common to say, “it’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” This could not be truer in Nepal. While the country has gone through tremulous upheaval recently, nepotism, corruption, and crony-ism have hardly abated. While the Nepali Congress and The UML formally apposed the Palace, their upper crust, mostly Brahmin-Chetri members ran in the same social circles with royals and royalists, dined with them, attended the same wedding receptions, ran the same civic organizations, served on the same boards, etc. All in this elite class share the goal of, to one degree or another, preserving the power of their own class-caste. These are social contacts that nearly all Maoist members severed while going underground, if they existed to begin with, and they hardly have had time to return. The Army Chief Surely has many friends within the CPN UML and NC, if not relatives (which trump all), and many favors to call in. Continue reading Why Nepal is Divided Over the Sacking of Army Chief?