CPA implementation : Lost in a maze

The CPA signed on 21 November 2006 declaring an end to the decade-long armed conflict, which paved the way for inclusion of the rebels in mainstream politics and the subsequent elections to the CA, has made little difference in the lives of the Nepalis. The deal was welcomed, especially after confinement of PLA soldiers and their weapons in cantonments under UN supervision and holding of the Constituent Assembly (CA) election. Nevertheless, the general implementation of the CPA has not been straightforward.

The UNMIN commands high credibility but it will not last indefinitely, especially if the process of management of arms and armies is further delayed. The adjustment or merger of both the armies and drafting the new constitution within the stipulated timeframe should therefore be the cardinal agenda of the transitional endeavour. The peace process has now delivered significant results but few problems that characterized it — primarily the lack of solid dialogue and monitoring mechanisms, poor facilitation, little attention to confidence-building and an opaque, elite-driven approach — may continue to dog the next stages. The then SPA and the Maoists continue to retain different visions for Nepal’s future institutions and political discourse. Lately, rift within the CPN-Maoist leadership about the choice of the doctrine of republicanism seems to have split wide open.

Two years after the CPA promised a definitive end to armed conflict, the nation still remains in a political deadlock due to the contentious issues of military merger and other unfulfilled major transitional commitments. The dillydallying over the formation of various high level commissions as envisioned in the CPA reflects the shortcomings on the implementation front. Leaders have vowed to forge a new consensus and immediately constitute the proposed commissions and committees but have yet to address the problems that led to past delays or tackle crucial issues such as the formation of a high level commission on involuntary disappearances.

The growing suspicion among the parties are echoed in ebbing public confidence. Observance of CPA has been severely undermined as no formal government mechanism is in place to closely monitor the non-compliance aspects. Total compliance with CPA is the key instrument for smooth transition to lasting peace and political stability. The international community needs to deliver a clear message on keeping the peace process on course. The provisions of the CPA must be made mandatory and punitive in the event of violation.

The peace process from the outset was based more on a convergence of interests rather than a common vision. It depended on parties reforming their political behaviour and left many crucial issues to be negotiated at an unspecified date. The consensus on power-sharing is now foundering and the prospect of constitution drafting has been weakened by the lack of shared interests. The Maoists have started to exert greater influence on every sphere of life including the revival of parallel structures in some instances. The problem of impunity for CPA violation has also contributed to the emergence of new ethnic and regional fronts often embedded with the politics of violence adding further complexity to the transition process.

The Maoist-led government needs to restore its credibility through immediate confidence-building measures and demonstrate its commitment through positive behaviour. The leadership of all key players should focus more on the constitutional process, developing mechanisms to increase public participation and making their party more accountable in the observance of CPA unconditionally. Halting attacks on police, government buildings, general public, and public officials and total demolition of all parallel government structures is indispensable. Allowing the police, as agreed in the CPA, to maintain order and investigate criminal activities and facilitating the return of properties to their rightful owners is the major demand of the day. Now there has been a clarion call from within the respective parties to dismantle the “Young Communist League” and “Youth Force” ensuring they do not act as a parallel police force.

In order to lead the peace process to a logical conclusion, ensuring full compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law and guaranteeing the observance and respect for rule of law and freedom of opinion, expression and organization must be priority of the transitional regime. The proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission must be founded on the internationally agreed human rights principles so that no room is left for impunity. As the current limbo is inherently unstable there is an urgent need for a coherent strategy to create an environment for democratic constitution drafting initiative, not just another quick-fix backroom deal.

Dr Siwakoti is president, INHURED International