R.I.P. Constituent Assembly. What next?

On May 27, 2012, the Constituent Assembly (CA) expired dashing hopes of citizens of Nepal. After four extensions to double the CA’s original tenure of two years, the biggest experiment in Nepali politics proved unsuccessful. The 601-member CA comes to an end as unceremoniously as possible without a word of good-bye or apology from the chair.

The major political parties, the largest Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the ‘democratic’ Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist-Leninist and the alliance of parties based in southern plains United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) could not reach an agreement on new constitution and with the Supreme Court (SC) verdict that CA term can be no longer extended, the CA has nowhere to go but to hit the bottom.

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A Leap to Peace

Nepal Army took the chain of control on Maoist combatants in a important development of Nepal’s peace process. However, the wounds of war will only be healed by truth reconciliation.

Cartoon by Rajesh KC/Republica (Reproduced with permission)

For the record, on April 10, 2012, Nepal Army took control of the weapons and the chain of command of the Maoist’s People’s Liberation Army. This officially makes United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) a civilian party without weapons and combatants; and the change marks an important achievement in Nepal’s peace process after the end of Maoist’s 10-year-long People’s War.

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Baburam Bhattarai: the hopeless hope?

Dr Baburam Bhattarai

For non-Maoist supporters, Dr Baburam Bhattarai is the favorite among Maoist leaders. For urban population, the brilliant academic record of Bhattarai, a PhD, along with his no-nonsense statements made him the hope in Nepali politics at the time when many thought politics is made dirty by the group of leaders who did nothing more than quarrelling for the post.

If any politician garnered affection and praise from non-party supporters, it was Bhattarai.

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A milestone of peace process

On January 22, 2011, Maoist party of Nepal formally handed over it’s people’s army and arms to a committee headed by Prime Minister and consisting representatives of other political parties. This is indeed an important step in the ongoing peace process that, when concludes successfully, will transform a nation marred by violent conflict into, hopefully, a democratic peaceful and better country.

The handover was promised long ago, but did not come until United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) left the country ending it’s mandate partially successful. As I wrote earlier, the exit of UNMIN could prove good for the peace process initiated by the parties themselves without foreign facilitation and the parties are capable enough to take it to the successful conclusion setting an example in the world. The handover, that came after seven days of UNMIN’s exit, is a important step towards achieving the peace and it should also end any fear that UN body’s exit will have negative impact on it.

Saturday’s handover ceremony at the Shaktikhor Cantonment, one of seven cantonment where 19,000+ Maoist combatants are temporarily housed. Apart from the emotionally-worded speeches of Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, the ceremony attended by almost all top leaders, diplomats and government officials featured demonstrations from the Maoist army. I liked the show for at least one reason.

The multi-cultural dances and march pass were conducted on the tunes of popular folk songs and national songs. It was a little transformation, for the Maoist army were probably used to those people’s song that normally promotes nationalism with revolutionary Maoist ideologies. Watching those young army marching made me, and many others, emotional. They too are Nepalis, youth with dream in their eyes, playfulness in their behaviors and curiosity about their future. And, I sincerely believe that if they go into the security agencies, almost everyone of them will commit themselves to the nation’s service.

A step is taken in the peace process and there are still a few steps where the Maoist party and other parties will have to make difficult decisions – and I hope that they will make decisions for the nation’s benefit rather than for their party’s benefits. All those youths who have fought with Maoist believed (wrongly or rightly that up to your evaluation) they are fighting for their nation, for the betterment of the people and want to see peaceful and prosperous Nepal.

I hope the integration and rehabilitation process will go as smoothly as the handover process. And, we all should understand not matter what parties we have the membership of or what ideology we believe in, first and foremost we all are Nepalis and proud to be. And, we all surely want to be citizens of a peaceful country.

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