Sidewalk circus

The five-point agreement between the government and the CPN-Maoist made it possible for both sides to write to the UN along similar lines requesting assistance in the peace process, including the management of both the armies and the weapons held by them. This is widely believed to have removed the single biggest obstacle to the promulgation of an interim constitution and formation of an interim government. But the 16-member committee for drafting an interim statute has not yet submitted the draft document because of the disagreement within the SPA and between the SPA and the Maoists. One major bone of contention is clearly the status of the monarchy. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s recent public statements arguing for a political space for the monarchy, or, in other words, according it a ‘ceremonial’ status represents one side of the debate, while on the other there is a call for the outright declaration of a republic.

There needs to be a consensus on the matter among the forces of Jana Andolan II. The clarion call of the April revolution was to clip the royal wings and the holding of constituent assembly elections. Though the slogan for a republic was a powerful one among the protesters throughout the country, since the SPA and the Maoists have agreed to let the constituent assembly decide the future road map of the country, including the fate of

the 238-year monarchy, the status of this hereditary institution during the transition period need not pose any problem at all. As the sovereign people are going to decide on the matter, neither the SPA nor the Maoists nor anybody else for that matter should

insist on whether the interim constitution should incorporate a republic or a ceremonial monarchy. Till then, the monarchy should be kept in suspended animation, neither established nor abolished — in a state of statuslessness. Otherwise it would be tantamount to the parties deciding on the monarchy even before the people have got the chance to exercise their sovereign right.

Depending on the outcome of the CA polls, all important organs of the state will be restructured, including perhaps the armed forces of the country. PM Koirala’s job is limited to facilitating the promulgation of the interim constitution and formation of an interim government. But this must be done in consonance with the 12-point, 8-point, and 5-point agreements, and no less important, the mandate of the Jana Andolan II. His hands are more or less tied. He owes his current premiership to the forces that planned and executed the popular movement, not to anything or anybody else. It is therefore not the privilege of PM Koirala to decide on the kind of government Nepal would have in future, contrary to the view expressed by visiting US senator Arlen Specter. To paraphrase the senator himself, it is for the Nepali people to decide how they should form their government and settle their dispute.