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Politico-Economics Of Royal Coup In Nepal

Politico-Economics Of Royal Coup In Nepal


By Surendra R Devkota

As democracy spurs, the monarchs in Nepal get up in arms, which is evidenced by two royal coups in past 50 years. The first royal coup of 1960 orchestrated by the king Mahendra father of present king not only lasted for thirty years but also resulted to a massive incidence of poverty in Nepal. The second royal coup of February 1st 2005 is leading to insurmountable damages in the socio-economic and political fronts. King Gyanendra’s royal coup not only suspends the Nepalese people's fundamental rights, including freedom of assembly and expression, right to information and privacy, and protections afforded by Nepal's constitution against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of individuals but also drives the country into an un-destined direction. As an absolute head of both the state and government of Nepal king Gyanendra’s execution of first quarter of the year 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 are reversing the socioeconomic development in country. Further, the king simply forgot that the way he devalued the peoples’ feelings may reciprocate efficacy of monarchy in Nepal.

The King has victimized the democracy in order to control insurgency initiated by a rebel group – Nepal Communist Party (Maobadi). Except the King himself and his ceremonial 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 his Council administration. Rule of law has been substituted by an autocratic regime. As King Gyanendra joined a club of the South Asian of dictators along with Pakistan, Burma (Myanmar), Bhutan and Maldives; he might have excelled other dictators in the region championing for a bogus democracy. Except China, Pakistan, and Russia no other countries have supported King's latest coup.

The king’s noble achievement so far is a bargain of guns with India, China, UK, and USA over the democracy in Nepal. Amnesty International recently revealed how irresponsible military aid and arms supplies to Nepal from the United States, India and the United Kingdom, have facilitated the killing, torture and abduction or "disappearance" of thousands of civilians. Likewise, other governments such as Belgium, France, and South Africa have recently supplied military assistance and France supplied crucial components for helicopters components.

It is unfortunate that the royal council has yet to realize the power of invisible hands of economics, and general people have yet to suffer as the cumulative cost of multidimensional conflict in Nepal is consolidating. Recently, Asian Development Bank estimated an account of cost of conflict in Nepal. For example, economic growth slowed at an average of 1.9 percent over the period of 2002-2004, and if it will be the trend for future years (2005-2009) then the country will lose about 57 percent of the economic growth due to decline in development expenditure. Local production of goods and services are far below the potential level, and it is predicted to be around 2 percent that is equal or less then population growth rate. The Nepal Rastra Bank’s, a central bank, latest report says that foreign grants recorded a slower growth, government could not spend development expenditure due to the on-going internal conflict in the country , and distorted terms of trade between India and other countries. The report further says the remaining foreign reserve can finance merchandise imports of 12.4 months. The economic survey report of fiscal year 2004/05 released by the government indicates the economic growth scenario is comparable of seventies and eighties. By the span of six months period of royal takeover of the executive power by the king, the development indicators are nose diving. Further, for the fiscal year of 2005/06 king’s royal budget of nearly $ 1.8 billion has dual objectives of peace and development. In order to bring peace, this budget allocates nearly 20 percent of resources for security, which is more or less equal to the socioeconomic development activities. It is unclear who will fund the royal budget.

Donors that complement nearly two thirds of budget and are working in many remote regions had already left the areas due to a constant threat of the Maoists. After February 1st it is estimated the more than $ 250 million development aids are either suspended or postponed that directly hampered major programs such as poverty reduction, rural development, education, health, and forestry. Very recently, for instance, Norway a major development stakeholder of Nepal decided not to support to a half billion dollar project of water supply in Kathmandu. To which, the World Bank had already withdrew its 65 million investment. Consequently, Nepali communities are undergoing the great economical hardship, and psychological stress, and strain. People living in rural areas are being severely affected. The king simply has overlooked these rural masses (85 percent of total population of 25 million) as if they don't play any role in his power equation. In many rural areas mass exodus to either city centers or even in India is a compulsion due to abuse of guns by both the security forces and the Maoists.

On the other hand, in March, European Parliament has opted for "smart sanction" against Nepal in order to restore democracy and civil liberties. Meanwhile, in June, the US ambassador to Nepal opined that political parties of Nepal should cooperate to the king in order to settle down the Maoists. On the other side, the British ambassador to Nepal clearly spells that democracy is an essential pre-requisite for a successful peace process. Likewise, the International Crisis Group recommend for a progressive constituent that address different sociopolitical aspirations of people. At the people’s level, seven major political parties have reached unanimous agreement on empowering people and make them sovereign. The parties have realized that the royal takeover not only violated the 1991 Constitution of Nepal, but subsequent activities of the King proved that a reconciliatory approach for coexistence of both parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy has failed. The 1991 Constitution was landmark of democratic devolution of power from monarchy to people of Nepal, and coexistence of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, but the recent actions of the King have diluted that understanding. It is proven that the monarchy seems the major obstruction for the democratic intensification in Nepal.

The alliance of seven political parties’ determination to continue the democratic movement in Nepal until the establishment of people’s sovereignty should make truly people’s sovereign nation. Meanwhile an ongoing political understanding between the political parties and the Maoists may yield a positive resolution. Since the primary aspiration of people empowerment is a complete devolution of power to people, political parties’ consensus voices on holding an election of constitutional assembly certainly receive a salutation that will empower to the people of Nepal. This will give an exit to present political quagmire bringing progressive changes towards full democracy and help bringing Maoists to mainstream politics by denouncing violent mode. Days are gone for the royalists to impose their personal ideas and values.

Let the sovereign people of Nepal decide the future of monarchy. Nepal is in dire need of an overhauling of socioeconomic development philosophy and structure based on an innovative constitution that guarantees socioeconomic and political rights to people, an accountable and responsible system of judiciary, legislative and executive at different levels rather than a simple politico-administrative makeover at the central level.

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

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