Siddhi B. Ranjitkar: Making Nepal Prosperous
Making Nepal Prosperous
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
Thursday, November 09, 2006
The seven-party alliance (SPA) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) signed yet another landmark six-point agreement in the early morning of November 08, 2006, possibly setting a concrete step toward a new Nepal. If it is implemented keeping to the letter of the agreement, Nepalis will have new lives and Nepal will be on the right track of development to prosperity.
Obviously, both sides – SPA and the Maoists got what they wanted except for the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) did not get the referendum on the monarchy and the Maoists did not get outright republic. The CPN-UML wrote a note of dissent in the agreement whereas the Maoists did not do so. Both the cases are concerned with the decision on the fate of the monarchy. The Nepali Congress (NC) and the Nepali Congress-Democratic (NC-D) must be happy for leaving the fate of the monarchy to the decision of a Constituent Assembly (CA) that is to be elected by June 2007. Thus, the monarchy has been kept on the life-supporting machine until a CA makes decision on it.
First, both the SPA and the Maoists should adequately send their women representatives to the forthcoming interim legislature and government. The current House of Representatives has passed a resolution making mandatory representation of women by at least one-third of the total members in all agencies. So, SPA and the Maoists should keep this standard for the women’s representation in the interim legislature and in the incoming collation government of the SPA and the Maoists. We need to listen to the women’s voices otherwise we will be back to square one.
Second, the proposed interim coalition government of the SPA and the Maoists should discipline the Nepal Army beset by the allegations of corruption and human rights abuses, and the Maoists’ militia beset by the allegations of terrorism, abductions, extortion and so on. Pursuant to the six-point agreement, the incoming government would shelve all allegations made against the Nepal Army and the Maoists’ militia until November 07, 2006. Thereafter, any criminal actions perpetrated by either the Nepal Army or the Maoists’ militia should be treated as the individual criminal acts and should be treated in the court of law, and let the criminals serve the sentences in other words the government should do away with the tradition of breaking of law by the Army and the militia with impunity. The government should not cover up such criminal acts under any pretext.
While shelving all allegations of abuses perpetrated by both the Nepal Army personnel and the Maoists’ militia, the government should redress the victims of the abuses for their sufferings. The government should return all property seized by the army and the militia to the owners with compensation for the losses without delay. For those killed, the government should pay the amount to their family members equal to the amount it had paid to the families of the killed during the people’s movement in April 2006. Similarly, the government should redress the damages done to the people physically and mentally injured by both the army and militia compensating for their sufferings and injuries.
The next immediate step the government needs to take is to restructure the Nepal Army, to see the possibility of absorbing the Maoists’ militia into the Nepal Army, and to immediately cut off the Nepal Army’s remaining royalty to the monarchy both by removing the high-profile officers loyal to the king and by setting the mindset of other officers on the loyalty to the Government of Nepal.
The government also needs to orient the civil servants and the Nepal Police to the services of the people. They also have been beset by allegations of corruption, delay in making decisions, nepotism and having the mindset of being the masters of the people rather than the servants. They need to be efficient, sincere and loyal to providing services to the people rather than acting otherwise.
The corrupt personnel should be punished by law without delay. This will be possible only when the politicians wielding power are not corrupt. Therefore, the first thing toward making the bureaucracy and the Nepal Police operate sincerely is to punish the corrupt politicians. The step toward this end is to remove the corrupt politicians from all the positions in the party, in the proposed legislature and government, and put the convicted one behind bar. The tradition has been to treat the corrupt politicians not only with impunity but also let them continue to be on the central committees of their parties and even in the current House of Representatives. The SPA and the Maoists should take this matter very seriously.
One of the most important parts of democracy is the judiciary. Only the independent and efficient judiciary can protect the basic human rights of the people. So far the delayed justice has been the main problem of the judiciary. In addition, the judiciary has suffered from the influences of the rulers.
Not in the distant past, the king had appointed justices to the Supreme Court of Nepal ignoring their dubious background but taking into account of their loyalty to him. The current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal had welcomed the most undemocratic step of the king taken on the February 01, 2005.
The Public Account Committee recommended the House of Representatives to impeach two justices of the Supreme Court that ruled going against the interest of the people but the full bench of the Supreme Court decided against it.
All these are clearly not the signs of independent of judiciary. Therefore, we need to make judiciary independent subjecting the erring justices to impeachment, sealing off any loopholes of influences on the judiciary, and making the government to implement the decisions of the court promptly. So far, the practice of the government has been to be lethargic to the implementation of the court decisions. It should not be repeated by the incoming coalition government of the SPA and the Maoists.
Another vital organ of democracy is the free media. Nepalis have seen how the free media played a crucial role in reclaiming democracy in the country, and also have seen how the state-run media published and aired the materials against democracy and the people’s movement. We should not blame the management and the staffs of the state-owned media except for the opinion writers for their undemocratic media presentation, as they were under the command of the then-minister for Communications and Information.
Nepal has sufficient independent and free media. So, we do not need the government media at all. In order to avoid the future abuses of the state-owned media by the government, the state-run media should be either privatized or made autonomous and independent of the government influence. We should have laws for protecting the free media from anybody that could be dictatorial and autocratic.
Last but not least, the incoming interim government should take strong actions pursuant to the recommendations of the High Level Probe Commission after it submits the report to the government, against the perpetrators of human rights abuses including the current ghost king as the then-Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
Nepal is poised to be a democratic and prosperous country in the beginning of the 21-century. Hopefully, it would get rid of the dynastic rule that has successfully kept the people under the despotic rulers and deprived the people of their rights to prosperity for more than two centuries.
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