By Buddhi Man Tamang
Recently, the International Crisis Group (ICG) published a report titled ‘Nepal’s Fitful Peace Process.’ This comes a month before the extension of the Constituent Assembly’s term by three months for the second time. The report covers four crucial issues: the delay in drafting the constitution, integration and the rehabilitation of the Maoist Army, lack of political consensus among the political parties and the role of international community in facilitating Nepal’s peace process.
Differences among Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and United Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist (UCPN-M) on federalism are identified as the reasons for delaying the drafting of Constitution. UCPN (Maoist) has demanded an ethnicity-based federal structure which is also the demand of the indigenous ethnic groups in Nepal. However, the NC and CPN (UML) are against this proposal by the UCPN (Maoist). The working of the CA has been widely affected because of these differences. The indigenous groups will not give up the demand of ethnic federalism even if the Maoist give it up. In fact, the Maoists got unanimous support of the indigenous groups for proposing ethnic federalism in their political manifesto.
State restructuring, marginal voices on resurrection of 1990’s constitution and Madhesi’s view points on state restructuring are other issues hindering the drafting process of the constitution. Likewise, the report deals with the seven month house agitation of the Prime Ministerial election widely affecting the constitution drafting process. Political parties are also divided on the form of governance, language and system of leadership (executive presidency or prime ministerial) in the new constitution. These disputes have obstructed the making of concrete decisions in thematic committees.
However, the report appreciates the 50-days integration plan for the Maoist army personnel forwarded by the Special Committee under the highest political decision-making forum. The report also highlights the probable conflicts after the integration of the national army. It further deals with the concept of the promotion of harmonization among integrated Maoist and national army so that they can mutually co-operate putting aside the past chaos and animosity. The debate on democratization of Nepal’s army revolves around the choice of downsizing it or democratizing it through inclusiveness. Madheshi parties have demanded the inclusion of Madhesi’s in the Nepalese army and are now using it as a bargaining chip for extension of the CA term.
With regards to the involvement of the international forces in Nepal’s peace and constitution building process, the report is critical of India’s involvement in encouraging Madhesi forces towards dissolution of CA to counter Maoists. The report advocates that the dissolution of the CA cannot resolve the ongoing political instabilities. India shares the credit of the 12 point agreement signed between the then Seven Party Alliance and the CPN (Maoist) as the political roadmap of Nepal’s peace process. The cold war between India and UCPN (Maoist) started when Prachanda went to China, breaking the tradition of visiting India as Prime Minister.
It focuses on the drama of the longest Prime Ministerial election in the Nepalese parliament (Prachanda’s ambition of being Prime Minister, the fraction in the Maoist party between the hardliner Mohan Vaidya and architect of the peace process Baburam Bhattarai). This intra-party politics within the Maoist cadre and their accusation that India is not helping in the premiership race has been brought out in the report as India’s negative influential presence in Nepalese politics. The report equally highlights India’s lobby of departure of United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) because of India’s constraint on interest articulation of the western forces through the mission. UNMIN was invited to assist Nepal’s peace process signed between the government of Nepal and the then CPN (Maoist). UNMIN had been mandated to monitor the CA election and the verification of the Maoist armies.
It also covers the CPN (UML)s’ strategic way of dealing with Maoists and India with different fractional groups in order to play power politics. The rhetoric of the democratic alliance is projected through the Nepali Congress, which is supported by smaller parties, who believe that democracy provides the best ideological balance to reduce influence of the left majority. The report thus makes to appeal to both, India and the international community to help facilitate Nepal’s peace and constitution writing process.
Although the report has exaggerated some of the issues, the lack of confidence among the political parties to reach a consensus supports the argument presented in the report and makes scope or the critique of the government. The concluding note that the Constituent Assembly is the only legitimate forum to address the genuine voices of all the groups be it Madhesis, Janajatis or every Nepalese emphasizes the importance of the CA in legitimizing the logical conclusion of the peace process.
Buddhi Man Tamang
Research Intern, IPCS
email: [email protected]