SPA and Current Political Situation in Nepal
SPA and Current Political Situation in Nepal
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
Monday, August 21, 2006
During the April Movement in 2006, Nepalis gave the seven-party alliance (SPA) a mandate for bringing a lasting peace in the country as the SPA has already reached the 12-Point Understanding with the Maoists on November 22, 2005. They hoped that the SPA would form a competent government and the SPA dominated House of Representatives would act immediately for setting up a lasting peace in the country.
Instead the SPA made the most incompetent person and four-time failed former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, a Prime Minister again. This was the first disappointing step the SPA took. However, Nepalis did not lose a hope believing Former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala might be a changed man.
Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula carefully and successfully navigated the peace process, and brought the Maoists’ leaders to the Prime Minister’s residence and reached the Eight-Point Agreement with the Maoists. Nepalis thought that the SPA government was about to conclude the peace treaty with the Maoists.
Then some members of the Central Committee of the Nepali Congress (NC) vigorously objected the Eight-Point Agreement with the Maoists, and even demanded the resignation of Home Minister Sitaula for his role in the deal with the Maoists. Foreign diplomats strongly objected the Eight-Point Agreement as they did to the 12-Point Understanding reached between the SPA and the Maoists.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala put on hold the implementation of the agreement and listened to the foreign diplomats and made his mind prepared for going head-on confrontation with the Maoists. Prime Minister Koirala started making one statement after another that we should have room for the king in democracy irritating the people. Obviously, he did not make room for the Maoists in his government inviting confrontation with the Maoists which is against the mandate given by the people in April 2006, and against the 12-point and the Eight-point deals the SPA has with the Maoists.
At the same time Prime Minister Koirala started publicly saying that the Maoists would be included in the government only after they lay down the arms. This is the US foreign policy. The US Government has listed the Maoists as the terrorists. So, the US Government could not work with the terrorist government or the US Government would need to remove the Maoists from its list of terrorists’ organizations which the US Government does not want to do so until the Maoists lay down the arms.
The Maoists have made it clear again and again that they are not going to lay down the arms until they would achieve the objective of making Nepal a republic. They rather offered the SPA to declare Nepal a republic as a condition for laying down the arms.
Thus, the situation has been developed that both the SPA and the Maoists are going head-on confrontation making a lasting peace again elusive. This is not what Nepalis wanted from the SPA government and the Maoists. Nepalis wanted both the SPA and the Maoists coming closure to each other and making a coalition government for a lasting peace.
The good question logically thinking Nepalis put to the SPA, its government and the House of Representatives dominated by it is why the House of Representatives could not suspend the monarchy and declared Nepal a republic for the Maoists to lay down the arms. The House of Representatives has declared many things and cut off the major power of the king on paper (as the army secretariat on the palace premises is still intact) but could not do the things that would bring a lasting peace Nepalis have so much desired for.
It is clear that the House of Representatives has been riding a paper horse making one declaration after another and passing one bill after another to make it seem to be working for the people but in reality nothing has been happening. The House passed the resolution that there should be at least 33 percent of women in the House and in the government sector. However, the House set up committees without a single woman making the mockery of the House resolution. Therefore, every action of the House has been on the paper only. The House could not even bar the Former Minister convicted for corruption from attending its sessions. Consequently, nothing has changed for better in the lives of Nepalis after the April Movement in 2006.
Instead of correcting the corrupt management of the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), the SPA Government increased the fuel prices drastically that provoked Nepalis to fight against the SPA Government in August 2006. This was totally against the mandate Nepalis gave the SPA. The SPA Government quickly rolled back the fuel prices but its actions have already done considerable damage to it.
The SPA Government has failed to resolve the problems of running the state-owned corporations. The most conspicuous corporation is certainly the NOC that runs on the loss of billions of rupees every month. The next corporation is the Nepal Electricity Authority that has accumulated the loss of Rs 13 billion, half of which is the government’s dues to it. Its employees’ union has to raise its voices against the misuse of vehicles by its Board Members and the high officials of the ministry that runs it.
The SPA government has not been able to resolve the problems of students, health workers, bonded laborers, victims of Maoists and the Nepal Army. The SPA Government sends security to fire tear gas, and arrest protestors. Nepalis have seen so many protests during the last four months of the reign of the SPA Government that Nepalis have never seen before indicating the incompetence of the SPA Government.
The SPA Government shelved the report of the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights on the 49 people made disappeared by the Nepal Army. Civil Society leaders have repeatedly asked the SPA Government to disclose the whereabouts of the people made disappeared by the Nepal Army. Family members of the disappeared people have been putting pressure on the SPA Government to disclose the status of the disappeared people. The SPA government has done nothing to make clear the current status of the disappeared people not to mention about giving some material relief to the family members of the disappeared people. The SPA Government has let the Nepal Army to act with impunity.
The SPA Government and the House of Representatives have been doing everything possible to go against the mandate given by the people. As already stated Nepalis have given the SPA to set up a lasting peace in the country. However, every action of the SPA Government has been against the peace process and against bringing the Maoists on board the government without which a lasting peace is next to impossible.
Deputy Prime Minister holding the portfolio of Foreign Minister, Khadga Prasad Oli has been telling the public that the Maoists could be the part of the SPA Government only after the Maoists lay down the arms. This is his personal view or the view of the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) neither Mr. Oli nor the CPN-UML bothered to explain it to the public. General Secretary of the CPN-UML Madhav Kumar Nepal often made vague stance of his own and his party on the settlement of the burning issue of the management of the arms possessed by the Maoists.
Prime Minister Koirala has already twice made it clear that he is for keeping the monarchy. Twenty two people sacrificed their beautiful lives leaving their spouses, children and parent high and dry and 5,000 people injured some of them lost their vital organs such as eyes for bringing a lasting peace, and for removing the monarchy once for all that has been against the people throughout its history. However, Prime Minister Koirala has loved to carry on his back the monarchy – the dead donkey as depicted by Batsyan. Is not how the SPA meeting the expectation of the people, and following the mandate of the people?
The SPA has accepted the parallel government of the Maoists reaching the 12-Point Understanding and then the Eight-Point Agreement with the Maoists. The Maoists have been strengthening the parallel government, and have been patrolling the highway on a jeep. They have established a barrack in Chitwan, and set up militia posts throughout the country. They are not hiding in jungles now but are openly managing the security on the highways. How could it happen and how could the SPA Government claim control over the security of the country when the Maoists needed to patrol the highway?
The SPA Government has been doing nothing to make a single government that would be in control of the country except for its ministers making one statement after another against the arms of the Maoists and against the Maoists collecting taxes in the name of donations. The Maoists have demanded ten percent of the budget for maintaining their militia but the Finance Minister rejected it. The Maoists offered to merge their militia with the Nepal Army but the SPA Government failed to listen to them. Consequently, Nepalis have to live under two parallel governments.
Whatever the House of Representatives dominated by the SPA members and its government have been doing is not in favor of Nepalis but in favor of the regressive forces and for continuing the monarchy. In the name of cutting the power of the monarch, the House has been making sure that the monarchy would last forever. The House and the SPA Government’s actions have made possible for the monarchists to successfully infiltrate in every rally against the SPA Government. The House also has been instrumental in delaying the peace process consequently adding fuel to inciting violence.
The head of the Interim Constitution Drafting Commission (ICDC), Laxman Prasad Aryal has publicly stated that Prime Minister Koirala has been the main obstacle to bring the interim constitution to light. Once, the interim constitution is in place Prime Minister Koirala would need to share the power with the Maoists and other SPA member parties. His family members and members of his inner circle would lose the power which they often misuse for their own interest and benefits.
Currently, Prime Minister Koirala has been successfully manipulating the SPA member parties and his own party to keep him and his men in power as long as possible. He has been tending to be more and more like deadwood. Some people say that they want to make Prime Minister Koirala as honorable as Former South African President Nelson Mandela but Prime Minister Koirala wants to be as disgraceful as Former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa notorious for presiding over one corrupt government after another and for manipulating the referendum on choosing between the improved the-then system called Panchayat and the multi-party democracy.
Prime Minister Koirala has already presided over four corrupt and incompetent governments in the past, and currently presiding over the useless SPA Government that has been unable to do anything following the mandate given by the people.
Both the SPA and the Maoists have to take responsibility for anything that goes against a lasting peace in the country. If the SPA and the Maoists could not agree to a lasting peace, Nepalis would need to rise against them again.
The Maoists have developed both the capacity for launching street protests and for launching an armed revolt. The SPA has not been preparing for any of these two. So, Nepal is heading toward getting the Maoists in control of the state power soon. Nepalis might need to spill a lot of blood and would need to live with violence for many years to come if it becomes an armed revolution.
The SPA leaders have to think seriously whether to continue the current hopeless government or replace it with a coalition government to expedite the peace process for a lasting peace. Nepalis want a lasting peace nothing more; even millions of dollars worth of foreign assistance that comes against the peace process will not be acceptable. So, the SPA needs to stop listening the foreign advisors or diplomats, and act immediately to activate the frozen peace process. To this end, the SPA needs to remove Prime Minister Koirala from the position immediately as he has been an obstacle to the peace process, and he has shelved the implementation of the peace process.