Nepalis against autocratic monarch, says Boucher

Kathmandu, May 18:

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard A Boucher, testified on US policy on South Asia before the US House of Representatives International Relations Committee, Sub-committee on Asia and the Pacific, yesterday.

Speaking about Nepal, Boucher said, “The people of Nepal have shown they are not prepared to live under an autocratic monarch. Their success in forcing a return to democracy has created a broad spirit of optimism for the future.”

He added that the US was looking at ways in which it can further strengthen democracy and, through greater public participation in the political process, strengthen the momentum for peace.

“The army, which had largely stood apart from Nepal’s recent chaotic transition, is ready to follow a civilian leadership in the new democratic setup,” said Boucher, whose statement was released by the US embassy in Kathmandu today.

Boucher said that the areas in which the US feels it can make a positive difference “include technical assistance and equipment to the Parliament and to a constitutional reform process, assisting reintegration of internally displaced persons, and funding election monitors.”

He said the US wanted to assist the Nepali people with projects that can promote economic recovery. “The US supports the new government’s efforts in bringing peace to Nepal,”

he added.

The Sub-committee was told that Boucher had expressed the US’ readiness to provide assistance to security forces if the government were to make a request. This offer included his country’s ongoing commitment to improve the human rights record of Nepal’s security forces.

He said the Maoists should lay down weapons, end violence and intimidation and accept the rule of law and the will of the Nepali people.

“There will be a place for them in Nepal’s political arena. Until the Maoists take steps to change their character, we will not be convinced that they have abandoned their stated goal of establishing a one-party, authoritarian state.”