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The next phase

Publication Date : 29-10-2012


The Dasain holidays have passed, it has been five months since Nepal's Constituent Assembly (CA) was dissolved and it appears that politics is in the same exact place that it was five months ago. The discussion between the parties at that time was whether to reinstate the CA for a short period of time or to hold fresh elections. After months of discussion, this is once again the major question that the parties are negotiating over. At the time, the Nepali Congress and the Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) had insisted that they would not make any compromise unless the Baburam Bhattarai government resigned. They tried to stage protests, which were unsuccessful, and after some time they became more amenable to negotiating with the Maoists. Now, once again, these parties are insisting that the current government has to go before they agree on any measures to hold elections or promulgate a partial constitution.

The major concern for all parties, it is evident, is to bring about a situation that will benefit them in the elections. They all recognise that holding government office often has a decisive influence upon election outcomes. This is why the Maoists are unwilling to give up their leadership of it; this is why the opposition parties feel it necessary to be in power when elections are held. Of course, this does not mean that the parties are only opportunistic and driven by hunger for power. They all well recognise that election results will determine the composition of the new legislature and thus the ability for each party to push their agenda. If the Congress and UML win many more seats than the Maoists and the Madhesis, for instance, they will be able to push for a model of state restructuring that indigenous Madhesi and Janajati groups will likely be unhappy with.

Even so, parties have to recognise that current debates cannot go on forever. Major issues are at stake, but there are other issues as well that have gone ignored for far too long. Further delaying the process only means that the entire nation will be held hostage to the debate on state restructuring. Until a constitution is drafted, all governments will be of a transitional nature. Confronted by the opposition of other parties, it will not be able to adequately formulate a long-term policy for the country. Thus, the sooner the current process is completed the better. The parties too should recognise that it is in the interest of the country to have a stable and strong executive for a period of time. Their actions at the current juncture should be guided by the desire to salvage all of what has been agreed in the past and to move as soon as possible into the next phase of Nepal’s political process.


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