Search for a solution

After two months into the Royal takeover, the emergency orders are still in place, certain civil liberties remain suspended, there are curbs on the media as well as on the political parties, some of the donor agencies have suspended aid, and the Maoists continue their violent activities, including bandhs and blockades. Nonetheless, there seems to be taking place a gradual but informal relaxation of the restrictions. The Supreme Court’s judgement that non-suspended rights are operative is seen as a positive development. Admittedly, a number of political leaders and others are still under house arrest or detention, for example, CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal, but many have been released, too, including Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala. Powerful donor countries have threatend further aid cuts, if the democratic process and the freedoms are not restored. They have rightly stressed the reconciliation between the King and the political parties.

The reaction by the international community has been unexpectedly unfavourable for the establishment. Though the political parties are now unable to dictate terms, their influence is considerable as they represent the popular mandate and the international community regards them as such. It is the positions taken by countries like India, the US, the EC, and the UK that seem to be playing a role in the unfolding process.

Neither the government nor the major parties are in a position to ignore the preferences of the international community.

This is the reality. The rapprochement between constitutional forces is only part of the solution. The Maoist insurgency needs proper addressing if the door is to be opened for the solution of other pressing problems like insecurity, violence, political uncertainty, decline in trade, industry, and employment. Few dispute the fact that no single political force can resolve the national crisis. So all the political forces need to pursue a conciliatory approach to each other. But this is unlikely to happen unless the present restrictions are lifted. Koirala, at a press conference on Saturday, has reiterated the demand for the restoration of the Lower House. It is for the political leaders and the government to find the best way of ending the impasse. But that in itself cannot deliver peace, as the experience of all these years has shown. The far important part of the solution is the resolution of the Maoist insurgency. Many informed people at home and abroad, including most of the donor countries, have expressed serious doubts that force alone can provide an effective answer. So the search for a political solution within a broader democratic framework should start, earlier the better.