Maoist intransigence: A time of national reckoning
In order to reach a consensus on the two resolutions passed by the special session of the House — that of working effectively towards making the State a republic and the adoption of a fully proportional representation (PR) system to elect members of the Constituent Assembly (CA), the house took a ten-day recess. These resolutions are in contrast to the Interim Constitution (IC), which provides for a mixed system whereby 240 members would be elected through direct representation (first-past-the post), 240 through proportional system (PR) and the fate of the monarchy would be decided by the first meeting of CA.
In fact, the resolution passed by the House was spearheaded by the Maoists as a follow up of the demands made by them just two months prior to Nov. 22. They demanded that the House declare a republic and the CA members be elected on full PR basis. The Maoists made this a pre-condition for their participation in the Nov. polls and this forced the government to postpone the election indefinitely. The Nepali Congress (NC), which currently leads the coalition, is opposed to the Maoist demand and is in favour of sticking to the provisions of IC.
After the overthrow of King Gyanendra’s authoritarian regime some 18 months ago, Nepalis expected that the nation would have durable peace. Free and fair polls would be conducted which would provide a stable government that would usher in an era of peace, security, good governance and development. Unfortunately, delivery has been far short of expectations. In spite of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), among other accords, the Maoists have not kept their commitment to democratic norms and rule of law. If this was not bad enough, the nation is traumatised by the increasing incidence of violence in the Tarai.
Even Home Ministry’s activities seem to be confined to making promises of improving security in the future, doling out relief to the families of the victims, and declaring on an ad hoc basis martyrs under pressure from political groups. The deteriorating law and order situation in the Tarai which has been caused both by politically and criminally oriented groups has cast grave doubts on our capability to govern ourselves and to remain a integrated nation. The situation in the Tarai has been further compounded by the split in the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (NSP) and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF).
The latest revelation by the Maoist supremo Prachanda regarding his party’s ideology has further blurred the future political landscape. Prachanda recently stated that he had no faith in parliamentary democracy since it only took account of the majority. He also did not approve of the republican system that prevailed in the US, India,
Russia and China. He asserted that he believed in competitive politics that worked on consensus. It would be helpful if he were to define his concepts more clearly. Prachanda’s latest stand that durable peace is more important than holding CA election has merit but the question that follows is: Can durable peace be attained only if the other political parties were to follow the Maoist line?
In order to arrest the deteriorating state of the nation and put it on the road to stability and peace we need to ask ourselves certain fundamental questions: Do we wish to survive as a sovereign and independent nation? What kind of state restructuring and federalism will protect our sovereignty, independence and unity? Should the Interim Parliament (whose main responsibility is to hold the CA election) have the authority to declare Nepal a Republic or should it be the will of the sovereign people? If law and order is the priority of the government, why is it hesitant to mobilise its security apparatus to improve the law and order situation? Would the nation be happy if it were to land with another form of dictatorship (of the proletariat) in place of the authoritarian rule that prevailed in the past?
The SPA’s inability to hold the CA election has eroded its credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the nation and the entire international community. The SPA, to redeem its image and to provide a modicum of relief to the people, needs to find a solution to the current impasse and announce the date for the CA polls. In line with this, it should adopt mixed member representation (MMR) which combines the merit of a mixed system (as outlined in the IC) and full PR would replace the demand for full proportional representation as passed by the special session.
If a consensus cannot be reached regarding these two issues, the SPA should unanimously agree to hold a national political conference with the participation of all stakeholders to determine the future direction of the nation. It would be a great injustice to the people and the nation if our political leaders did not to rise to the occasion and free the nation from
Thapa is Mahasamiti member, NC