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Nepal's Civil Unrest

 
 
macaroni
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2006 08:46 am
mm... It seems the discussions stop when theres' no more conflict. The BBC had a full blown coverage of the time when the nepalis against the king, and when the parliament's decided to really take off his powers, bbc reports are only one-liners. The government was called HMG (His majesties gov) and now it's Nepali Government. The national anthem, which only praised the king, is getting changed, diplomats are changed and so are ministers. It seems good news is always less interesting.
0 Replies
 
macaroni
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 May, 2006 08:46 am
mm... It seems the discussions stop when theres' no more conflict. The BBC had a full blown coverage of the time when the nepalis against the king, and when the parliament's decided to really take off his powers, bbc reports are only one-liners. The government was called HMG (His majesties gov) and now it's Nepali Government. The national anthem, which only praised the king, is getting changed, diplomats are changed and so are ministers. It seems good news is always less interesting.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jun, 2006 06:20 pm
True, macaroni.

More eye-catching news today:

Quote:
Maoists join mainstream, interim govt

The Indian Express
Yubaraj Ghimire
Saturday, June 17, 2006

NEPAL: Overground after two decades, Prachanda criticises govt, ministers listen and nod

http://www.indianexpress.com/res/i/mediumImages/M_Id_1458.jpg

Other eye-catching headlines given with the story:

Koirala-Prachanda talks likely today

Maoists freed, govt promises poll in 6 months

Nepal govt scraps anti-terrorism law

Nepal Parliament session adjourned to mollify Maoists

Nepal scraps King's veto powers
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Jun, 2006 06:51 pm
Thanks nimh, I've been listening, but I haven't really been keeping up....
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Jul, 2006 05:14 pm
Good article, all very interesting... I hope the current, fairly radical democratic experiment will sail through OK..

Quote:
Nepal: King Depressed or Scheming?

Marty Logan
July 21
IPS

Four months ago he was the one figure in Nepal everyone turned to for a solution to political deadlock. Today King Gyanendra is reduced to a shadow, although a persistent one, hovering over a delicate peace process being carried out by the government and Maoist rebels.

Completely stripped of all legal powers by the parliament he revived after three weeks of massive street protests in April and widely believed to be the last of his line before a republic is declared in this South Asian nation, the king is a rare figure in the capital these days. All of which frequently provokes the question: what will he do next?

Some suggest he will commit suicide. "How could this man who considered himself to be Lord Vishnu live with the humiliation of being summoned before a royal commission (investigating violence against April's "people's movement") or being made to go to the tax department to pay his taxes?" asked the head of an inter-governmental organisation at dinner recently.

"I heard that he used to do a ceremony where he would make a fire of dried chillies, believing that the smoke would give him super-human powers," he added.

"The king has been made completely ceremonial and has no power," says constitutional lawyer Bhimarjun Acharya. When he surrendered to the hundreds of thousands of people marching against his direct rule in April, he "categorically and explicitly said that the power rests with the people", Acharya told IPS.

Since then, members of parliament (MPs) removed the king as "supreme commander" of the army, cut all legal links between the monarch and parliament, declared the royal family's property taxable, and renamed "His Majesty's Government" the "Government of Nepal".

That is not all. This week MPs removed the king as the patron of Kathmandu's Pashupatinath Temple, one of the holiest sites for the world's Hindus, assigning that position to the prime minister. The culture, information and tourism minister is to take over the queen's role as chair of the temple trust.

Earlier this month, the parliament decided that the king's Jul. 7 birthday would no longer be a national holiday. But that did not stop a few thousand people from gathering at Narayanhiti Palace in the capital's centre, among them Hindu priests, Buddhist monks, members of the monarch's former administration -- and Chief of Army Staff General Pyar Jung Thapa.

Some saw Thapa's visit as a snub of parliament's decision to not mark the king's 59th birthday and a sign of foreboding. "The army is completely loyal to the king," said Acharya. "Some people are guessing there might be another coup."

The political situation is far from stable. Peace talks between leaders of the Maoists, who claim to have 36,000 fighters, and the alliance of political parties (SPA) that organised April's movement continue but the rebels remain armed and are said to be actively recruiting and soliciting "donations".

Maoist leaders accuse politicians of being insincere in agreeing to the rebels' longstanding demand to dissolve the House of Representatives and call elections to a constituent assembly that would represent all sectors of Nepali society. That assembly would draft a new constitution, spelling out the future of the monarchy.

Former high-ranking civil servant Yadav Kant Silwal points out that some influential nations would prefer to see monarchy in Nepal, arguing that without the institution a vacuum would be created that could be filled by the Maoists, who have been warring against the state for a decade.

"US Ambassador Moriarty and even the Indians wouldn't mind if the monarchy continues...monarchists and some in the army brass must be looking for an opportunity" for the king to regain power, added Silwal in an interview.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has also argued that the door must be left open for the monarchy to play a role in the new Nepal or there could be a backlash from "regressive" forces.

Leading civil society figure Devendra Raj Panday rejects any future role for the monarchy. "Just because something is old doesn't mean it's cherishable...We're trying to recreate Nepal, based on new values and in tune with the demands of the time...we cannot carry baggage of history that might be detrimental to this cause."

The people's demands "could have been addressed and harmony built and maintained (but) the monarchy became very partisan towards feudalism and elites at the expense of vast sections of the population", added Panday in an interview.

Parliament's public accounts committee said earlier this month that it will investigate the royal family's wealth. King Gyanendra owns a number of expensive royal properties and businesses, which include a large stake in the Soaltee Group, the third-largest business group in Nepal with estimated net assets of 100 million US dollars.

After the royal massacre in 2001, the king acquired all the assets of his late brother, King Birendra, and his family and it is rumoured that he has deposited hundreds of millions of dollars in a Swiss bank and taken nearly nine tons of gold out of the country.

It was also rumoured that the king would provoke a bloodbath before giving up power. "If it really meant shooting hundreds of civilians, he wouldn't blink.," one long-time Nepal observer told IPS during April's movement. But while 21 protesters were killed, the monarch did not order security forces to suppress demonstrations, a former minister testified earlier this month.

"He's a very unpredictable person," said Silwal, who worked with Gyanendra before he ascended to the throne. "Sometimes I wonder if he even has common sense. He could have done two or three things that would have made him popular among the people, like use some of his money to set up a trust -- but he did nothing."
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Jul, 2006 06:37 pm
Seems like the scheming type.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Sep, 2007 06:44 pm
In the category Uh-oh...

Good, in-depth reporting as usual from ISN.

Quote:
Maoists call for new revolt in Nepal

The former underground party has threatened to quit the government if parliament fails to abolish the monarchy by the beginning of next week.

By Sudeshna Sarkar in Kathmandu for ISN Security Watch (13/09/07)

Three years ago, the Malla Hotel in Kathmandu, a former palace converted into a flourishing hotel by a scion of the country's erstwhile ruling Rana dynasty, was the target of a guerrilla attack by Maoist insurgents who had been fighting since 1996 to found a communist republic in the Himalayan kingdom.

On Thursday, 13 September, the hotel was to be the venue of a round-table conference called by the rebels to plan the strategy for a new revolt.

Though the meeting was called off at the last moment, apparently because the Maoist chief, party chairman and supreme commander of the People's Liberation Army Prachanda was feeling indisposed, the guerrillas have warned of a drastic change from next week, when their month-long ultimatum to the government runs out.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which ended its armed struggle for the abolition of Nepal's constitutional monarchy and a communist republic last year by signing a peace pact with the new government, is now making fresh demands.

By signing the peace pact, the Maoists agreed to take part in an election where voters would decide if they still wanted a king or preferred to become a republic. Though Nepal, isolated from the rest of the world until 1950, used to revere its kings as gods, it received a shock in 2001 when a midnight massacre occurred in the royal palace in the capital, killing then-King Birendra and nine more members of the royal family.

After Birendra's younger brother, Gyanendra, ascended the throne and began controlling the government by first sacking the prime minister and appointing his own men, anti-monarchy sentiments began to grow. From whispered criticism, the feeling erupted into bold public protests nationwide last year after Gyanendra staged a bloodless coup with the backing of the army and imposed his own rule for 15 months.

Continuous street protests for 19 days that left the economy bankrupt brought the nation to a standstill and snapped Nepal's diplomatic ties, forced the king to step down and hand over power to an alliance of seven major opposition parties. The alliance, which in the past had been resisted the Maoist demand to put the monarchy to a vote, changed its mind after the royal coup and called a truce with the rebels.

Now however, with 69 days left for the crucial constituent assembly election on 22 November, the Maoists are demanding the abolition of monarchy before the election.

Maoists feeling waning popularity

"Nowhere in the world has any reigning monarch ever given up the throne voluntarily," Prachanda told the media last month when his party gave a month-long ultimatum to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. "The palace has been trying to sabotage the election, especially by inciting violence in the southern plains. To ensure a free and fair election, we have to abolish [the] monarchy before the exercise."

The election was first scheduled for June. However, it had to be postponed due to the deteriorating security situation, especially in the plains where more than a dozen armed groups are now waging separate armed battles demanding autonomy.

The postponement left the Maoists unhappy since they had been banking on the high anti-monarchy feeling that prevailed until last year to give them a win at the polls. In return for agreeing to a deferred poll, they wrested a constitutional amendment from the government.

According to the new amendment, if the government feels the king is trying to scupper the November election or indulge in any anti-national activity, it can remove him if two-thirds of the MPs agree.

Now, fearing a waning of their popularity - due to the high-handedness of cadres, the refusal to return the public property captured by them during the civil war and failure to release child soldiers - the Maoists are pressuring the government to abolish the monarchy by using the constitutional provision instead of waiting for a public verdict.

"If the government fails to meet our demand by 17 September, we will leave the government and start a new peaceful but strong movement," Prachanda said in a statement.

With the new "revolt" to include a series of strikes, holding the election would be impossible if the threat was carried out.

Multitudinous revolts

Meanwhile, two of the biggest armed groups on the rampage in the south have also issued warnings to the government, saying they would oppose the election in their strongholds.

Ironically, both are groups of former Maoists. Jay Krishna Goit, one of the most senior Maoist leaders from the south plains, led a revolt in the party, saying it was dominated by the elite hill community and did not address the plight of the plains community.

Goit formed the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (Democratic Plains Liberation Alliance), which is asking for an autonomous state for plains people in the south. However, the organization soon split with a second faction now headed by a former Goit lieutenant, Jwala Singh, who also is asking for an autonomous state.

The Singh group especially has become very active in the plans, executing a series of killings, extortion and general strikes. This week alone, it killed two civilians, including the principal of a school.

Last month, Singh issued a press statement from underground saying his group would oppose the election and begin protests from 18 September. Now Goit has issued a similar warning, saying his band would enforce a four-day strike in the plains from 20-23 November, which includes the critical election day.

Besides the armed groups, four different ethnic organizations, who had in the past paralyzed the country by enforcing general strikes, sometimes for several days, are also demanding autonomous states for their communities.

Though the government hurriedly signed new agreements with them in recent times, all of them are accusing it of not implementing the pacts and warned they could start fresh protests.

One of them, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Plains People's Rights Forum), since this year has become the biggest challenge for the Maoists there. There are whispers that the Forum has reached a seat-sharing understanding with Koirala's Nepali Congress, the biggest party in the country, giving the Maoists additional reason to announce a new revolt.

The turmoil is not simply confined to the south.

On 2 September, three near-simultaneous bombs went off in crowded places in the capital, including a minibus, killing three women and injuring 26 people, making it the worst attack on the capital ever.

While police have yet not been able to make any headway besides issuing a sketch of a possible suspect, the Maoists are accusing royalists and the army of having engineered the attacks. Royalists, predictably, are alleging that the guerrillas caused the blasts.

Following the explosions, the army submitted a report to the prime minister, which, according to Nepal's media, portends there could be more violence after the election, if the results are not to the liking of the Maoists.

Political and economic time bomb

As the political complications become increasingly entangled, an economic time bomb is also ticking away, unheeded by the government.

Nepal faces an acute fuel scarcity as Indian Oil Corporation, the sole provider of petro products to the state-run Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), has slashed supplies by over 60 percent for non-payment of dues.

A succession of governments forced the NOC to sell fuel at a high subsidy as a populist measure, which caused it to run up a loss of billions of rupees each year. Currently, the NOC owes over NRS 10 billion to the Indian company as well as a group of financial institutions from which it has been borrowing regularly to pay its fuel bills.

Though the NOC has been urging the government to increase fuel prices, the government for fear of public anger on the eve of the election, has refused to heed the plea. Even aviation fuel stocks have plummeted, causing the NOC to warn the government that the scarcity is likely to affect the election.

Despite the national crisis, the minister for commerce, industry and supplies, Rajendra Mahato, remains preoccupied with a vicious intra-party feud. Dissidents in his Nepal Sadbhavana Party are asking the PM to replace him, and with the uncertainty about the ministry, there is no one to address the oil crisis.

The coming week promises to be critical for Nepal, sealing the fate of the election, the eight-party government and even the peace pact that ended a decade-old violent insurgency in which over 13,000 people were killed.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 07:34 pm
Week-old news by now, but it was the big one:



That the Maoists had won the elections had been clear throughout much of the lengthy vote counting period, as is clear from this report a week earlier:



That report doesnt give much extra background though. This NYT story from just before the elections is a lot more interesting. Long but well worth the read.

What had me chuckle/shake my head was how the Maoist leader is trying to allay Western concerns by invoking some classic Marxist theory. Marx wrote that communism is only possible once a society has gone from feudalism through capitalism, after all, so no worry: these revolutionary Maoists are wholly committed to first turning this feaudal country into a functioning capitalist state! Dogmatism in extremis, or just a sleigh of hand?

Quote:
Election, and Maoists, Could Transform Nepal

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/09/world/09nepal-span-600.jpg
The Maoist leader Prachanda, top center, stumped last month in Katmandu.


See also:

Somini Sengupta interviews Nepal's Maoist leader, Prachanda (mp3)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/09/world/09nepal-inline2-190.jpg
Pharping residents at a Prachanda rally there.
Nepal's Maoists Prepare for Elections: Slide Show

Such tremendous poverty...
0 Replies
 
anuska
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Apr, 2009 05:50 am
@littlek,
ya...king is gone...maoist is ruling nepal....and we r suffering from all nepal banda...its hard to live a life for a normal people here...
0 Replies
 
 

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