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Bargain Between Guns And Democracy In Nepal

King’s 100 days: Bargain between guns and democracy in Nepal


By Surendra R Devkota

As an absolute head of both the state and government of Nepal king Gyanendra’s execution of one hundred days are not easily forgotten. The king defied the national and international concerns about the royal takeover and suspension of fundamental rights, but failed to realize how his actions may stimulate to the Maoists. Further, the king simply forgot that the way he devalued the peoples’ feelings may reciprocate efficacy of monarchy in Nepal.

Except the King himself and army no one has directly gained from February first's royal coup d'état. King’s self-promotion to an absolute decision maker in the country is nothing new in royal history. The foremost activity the king initiated was dumping off of the people's constitution of 1990, abolished democratic values and institutions, and started his own Rules promulgated by his own decrees. Impunity to his supporters and intimidation of opposite thoughts are routine works of security forces and Council administration. It seems that everybody in Nepal is in prison both physically, and intellectually. Surprise enough, except the king and his council member and supporter, independent scholars aren’t allowed to leave the country even to participate in international conferences. Although the King and army are self-gloating on their unilateral success by telling to people and world the number of lives they killed, in fact, such actions could be doubtful, because local communities may not accept it since they know the truth. As a result, Nepali societies are under great psychological stress, and strain, which won't help to the king at all in long term.

Maoists, the main trouble makers in the Himalayan Kingdom, are fighting for socioeconomic transformation vis-à-vis a republican set-up through its people's war since 1996, and seem gaining the political momentum, either explicitly or implicitly, owing to the mistakes of the King and his council. One of the key achievements of Maoists is they are able to marginalize other political forces. It was a long desired wish of Maoists to rationalize democratic parties in order to enhance their own agenda. By keeping political leaders and activists in jail, and abolishing the parliament it seems that both complement each other. Secondly, after February 1st royal conquest of absolute power, Maoists got an unprecedented international exposure that may sensitively boost their morale to wage more propaganda warfare. Meanwhile, the King's global image is tainted as a model of the 21st century tyrant, and, unfortunately, his rivals, the Maoists have gravitated much international attentions.

Maoists, who are demanding to involve UN at any level so that they could get a sort of legitimacy, may circuitously benefit by keeping a UN human right monitoring unit in Kathmandu. It is still mysterious why and how UN involvement will solve Nepal's problem, but it is imperative to discuss the efficacy of UN involvement in pre-negotiation scenario rather than post-conflict picture. However, royalists simply missed the point that had the king allowed a free flow of information in the nation, the proposed establishment of UN Human Right Watch Cell could have been avoided. Consequently, if this UN agency, as expected, could pass impartial information to the world, not only Maoists but the King and army will also be in trouble. The world knows about Maoists brutality, and also would like to be acquainted with how the security forces managed to disappear more than 1400 people in Nepal.

Maoists are also prevailing in royal tone. While addressing to the nation on the eve of the Nepali New Year on April 14, King announced for an election of nearly five dozens of municipal bodies where nearly 10 percent of 25 million people live. Ironically, the king had sacked previous prime ministers by blaming them for their inability to hold national election. Now, why the king opted for holding local municipal election only? Does that mean he is losing control in four thousand villages? This pronouncement of the king may tangibly benefit the Maoists because it justifies of their claim over two thirds of countryside. Further, if political parties boycott this election, as expected, creditability will be always questionable.

A crisis of confidence among the king, the international community, and the political parties will also help Maoists. International communities are finding difficult to entrust royal words and deeds which are in opposite direction. As long as the king doesn't want to see eye to eye with the political leaders, it may not be easy to restore the mutual confidence between the king and the political parties. Despite few leaders of major political parties still like to see him a as a constitutional monarch, republican feelings among young activists and grass root workers of all parties seem rising. That sort of social emotions could be cashed by the Maoists if other political forces including the king failed to understand in time.

The king’s noble achievement is a bargain of guns with India and China over the democracy in Nepal. Subsequently, "The Government of India has decided to release some of the supplies currently in the pipeline, including vehicles," an External Affairs Ministry spokesman of India quoted by many Indian and Nepali newspapers. Prime Minister of India further elaborates that development in Nepal is under constant review. The reason of resumption of arm supply is pathetic, and non-excusable. India’s flip-flop policy towards Nepal is not new. Since 1950s India has performed different dramas to the people and king of Nepal. From 1950 to date, India and Nepal have several treaties, and almost of them unilaterally benefit India. Further, few agreements were happened inside the palace, which never became public. The recent arm supplies to Nepal also reveal a secrete understanding between India and Nepal’s King. People in Nepal are fully aware of India’s carrot and stick policy as well as its twin pillar hypothesis “constitutional monarchy and democracy”. This assumption simply violates Nepal’s independency. It is imperative not to play with people’s feelings. King may depend with them for the sake of his throne but not the people.

At the people’s level, recent development about seven major political parties’ unanimous agreement on full democracy in Nepal is encouraging. It is a long desired felt of Nepali people living inside and outside the country to unite against the February first royal coup. For example, people of Nepali origin living in the US are also sowing their solidarity against royal takeover by organizing a rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House on May 15 2005 (www.dcrally.org). Back in Nepal, Parties’ openness about holding the election of constitution assembly aims a politically inclusive move since it will also provide a safe landing opportunity to Maoists. Both king and Maoists must respect people’s wish, and work for empowering people in order to avoid further damages and losses of socioeconomic development opportunity.

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(Surendra R Devkota, Ph.D. is a US based research scholar. Email: srdevkota@gmail.com).

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