Unending political crisis in Nepal

nepalNepal faces frequent political instability. The revolutionary communists who won the hated democratic exercise are fighting among themselves. They are not comfortable with the pillars of governance. Naturally there is a huge crisis of governance.

The Hindu editorial writes, 5 May 2009


The political crisis in Nepal has taken a dangerous turn with the resignation of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda.’ The immediate trigger was President Ram Baran Yadav’s decision to reject a resolution of the Maoist-led cabinet dismissing the Nepal Army chief, Rookmangud Katawal, for insubordination. Although the Maoists can be faulted for acting hastily and unilaterally, the anti-democratic attitude of General Katawal towards civilian control in general and the peace process specifically lies at the root of the crisis. Nepal established its democracy through a political process that ended a decade-long civil war and abolished the country’s hated monarchy. Integration of Maoist combatants drawn from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into a reformed and democratised national army was a key principle to which all parties agreed when the struggle against King Gyanendra was at its peak. But now that the republic has been established and the task of framing Nepal’s constitution is under way, the Nepali Congress and even the Unified Marxists-Leninists have been dragging their feet on this question. But most damaging of all has been the stand taken by General Katawal.

In defiance of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the army chief pushed ahead with inducting thousands of new recruits, unilaterally extended the tenure of eight senior generals, and withdrew the army from the National Games on account of the PLA’s participation. No democracy can tolerate such insubordination from its army chief. Worse, General Katawal lobbied for support with foreign countries and there was even talk of a coup d’etat. Although he exploited the constitutional provision designating the President as the ‘commander-in-chief’ as a fig leaf for his machinations, it is a settled principle of parliamentary democracy that a non-executive head of state cannot exercise any powers in this regard independent of Cabinet advice. So blinded are the UML and the Nepali Congress by their opposition to the Maoists that they have applauded Mr. Yadav for his action, which has introduced a dangerous dynamic into civil-military relations in Nepal’s fledgling democracy. Unless the standoff is ended, the peace process could collapse. What all parties, including the Maoists, must do is to act soberly and responsibly to re-establish a working arrangement that allows Prachanda to remain Prime Minister, General Katawal to serve out his remaining four months as army chief, and the core principle of integration to remain intact.

There is no possibility for the continued stability of the government in Nepal. Atleast the development work must not be hindered. Bureaucracy and civil society organizations should continue despite the political instability.


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