Republic of Nepal
Republic of Nepal
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
Peacefully declaring Nepal a federal democratic republic, Nepalis have overcome the greatest hurdle that had stood against inclusive development, and demonstrated the world how the people could tear down the so-called mighty authoritarian regime peacefully. This could be the example for all people to engage in a peaceful manner for gaining the fundamental rights and ending the injustice in the society rather than attempting to do so violently disregarding the loss of so precious human lives and properties. People engaged in violence for justice need to take the example of Nepal for ending the injustice peacefully.
On May 27, 2008, newly elected members of the Constituent Assembly (CA) took the oath of office at the International convention Center (ICC). The second senior most member of the CA Kul Bahadur Gurung chaired the oath-taking session. Incumbent Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala was the senior most member of the CA but he could not chair the ceremony because of his executive status. Different ethnic-group members dressed in their ethnic costumes and wearing their respective ornaments not only embellished the oath-taking ceremony but also showed the integration of all of ethnic Nepalis into a single Nepal.
On May 28, 2007, the first sitting of the CA was scheduled for 11:00 A.M. but held only at 9:00 P.M., 10 hours later because of the negotiations going on among the leaders of the major political parties at the official residence of the Prime Minister at Baluwatar, Kathmandu. However, the actual business of the CA session started at 11:00 P.M. only, because of the need for photocopying the agenda for distributing to the CA members. It was a shame on the CA session managers that they could not manage the photocopies of the agenda on time and even took two hours to make about six hundred copies of the agenda. The senior most CA member Kul Bahadur Gurung chaired the first CA session.
After the opening of the CA session, the Chairman requested the CA members to stand in silence for two minutes to pay tribute to the martyrs that sacrificed their precious lives for making Nepal a federal democratic republic. Then, the Chairman read out the congratulatory letter sent by the Indian House Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee. Then, he asked Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala for submitting his proposal for declaring Nepal a federal democratic republic.
Prime Minister Koirala seemed to be weak and unwell. A medical doctor accompanied him in case the Prime Minister needed medical help and care. Prime Minister Koirala even did not take the salute made ready for honoring the Head of State at the entrance to the ICC. He spoke for a few minutes and then ask Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel to read out his short speech; then, Minster for Home Krishna Prasad Sitaula to present the proposal for declaring Nepal a federal democratic republic ending the 240-year old Shah monarchy to the CA on his behalf pursuant to the Article 159 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007.
After the submission of the proposal for declaring Nepal a federal democratic republic, the Chairman called on the CA members for voting for or against the proposal. The Chairman asked the CA members willing to vote for the proposal to go to the exit on his right and those willing to vote against it go to his left for going out and signing off against their names on the paper placed there for that matter. Almost all CA members lined up to go to the right exit for going out and voting for the proposal.
After collecting the paper the CA members have signed against their names, the Chairman announced that out of the 564 CA members present in the first session, 560 voted for the proposal and four against the proposal. Then, the Chairman gave two minutes to each member willing to present his or her views. Four CA members presented their views.
Then, the Chairman announced the proposal was passed by overwhelming majority of the CA members and declared Nepal a federal democratic republic, stripped the king of all royal titles, rights, positions, privileges and benefits making him a commoner, and gave instructions to the Government of Nepal to give 15 days to former King Gyanendra Shah to vacate the palace and convert the palace to a museum.
On May 28, 2008, all over Nepal, Nepalis had been rallying and taking processions to greet Nepal as a federal democratic republic since early morning. Hundreds of thousands of Nepalis had rallied despite the hot-May sun shining so brightly overhead. In the evening, oil lamps were lighted at various squares to greet the republic. A group of people demonstrated protesting the declaration of republic at New Road, Kathmandu in the afternoon.
Political parties and cultural organizations held a series of programs in Damak of Jhapa district on Wednesday to celebrate the transition of Nepal into a full-fledged federal democratic republic. The Adivasi Janjati Sangharsh Samiti held a rally and went around the town celebrating the declaration of Nepal a federal democratic republic. Activists of the Federal Limbuwan Rajya Parishad, Kirant Rai Yayokha and Kirant Yakthum Chumlung also participated in the rally. Similar rallies were also held in Chandragadhi of Jhapa and Birtamod. The Maoists also held victory rallies in Inaruwa of Sunsari district. Madheshi People’s Rights Forum cadres celebrated the end of monarchy. Itahari Jaycees, members of civil society and other organizations lit lamps to mark the end of the monarchy. In Bhojpur district, cadres of political parties, commoners, journalists and human rights activists took out processions from the Democratic Gate. The processions converged at Tundikhel. In Khotang district, the CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Janamorcha Nepal, the CPN-Unified and civil society held rallies to mark the end of monarchy. In Sarlahi district, holding victory rallies, people marked the end of monarchy. In Tansen of Palpa district, thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate the end of monarchy. In Lamjung district, taking out victory rallies, people celebrated the end of the monarchy. 
On May 29, 2008, the flag of the former king at the royal palace was lowered at 8:00 A.M. by the order of the Government of Nepal; the national flag was hoisted only in the evening at about 7:30 P.M. but the Government said that it had not ordered to do so.
A group of people had rallied at the area near the south gate of the palace demanding hoisting of the national flag at the palace throughout the day. The security had guarded the area prohibiting the people from rallying, as the local administration temporarily prohibited the area around the palace for rallies and gatherings for security reasons. So, the security and the people rallying at the south gate of the palace confronted with each other a number of times injuring a few protestors. They shouted slogans against the former king and warned the political leaders of possibility of their fate to be similar to the former king if they would not work following the people’s mandate. They also demanded immediate evacuation of Gyanendra Shah and his family from the palace.
On May 29, 2008, the Council of Ministers decided to dispatch a letter to the former king Gyanendra Shah giving 15 days time for leaving the palace following the instructions given by the CA. On May 30, 2008, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said that the Government has already sent a letter to the former king asking to leave the palace within 15 days as instructed by the CA. The Chief Secretary to the Council of Ministers signed the letter. The palace official had acknowledged the receipt of the letter.
The Council of Ministers also set up two committees: one for security another for auditing the palace assets and property. Secretary to the Ministry of General Administration Dr Govinda Kusum led the audit team while Joint-Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs Mod Raj Dotel led the security team. On June 01, 2008, after the visit to the palace, the Secretary to the Ministry of General Administration told the reporters gathered outside the palace that the team has ten days to work, and the palace officials are cooperative; so, by Sunday, June 08, the team would be able to complete the auditing of the palace assets and property, and then report the government with recommendations for management of those assets and property. The Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs Umesh Mainali told the reporters that the security in the palace was less than what was expected; rather it was a bare minimum.
On May 29, 2008, the US Embassy in Kathmandu in a statement welcomed the declaration of Nepal a federal democratic republic, and congratulated Nepalese people. A statement released by the US Embassy in Kathmandu in the afternoon of May 29, 2008 said, "The United States of America congratulates the people of Nepal on the Constituent Assembly's first step in defining a new, democratic Nepal with the declaration of a republic on May 28.” “This is another exciting milestone in Nepal's democratic development. We encourage the representatives of the CA to continue their work to fulfill the peoples' desire for peace, democracy and development in Nepal", the release added. 
Similarly, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon congratulated Nepalis on declaring Nepal a federal democratic republic. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office in New York issued a statement early Thursday, May 29, 2008, congratulating the people of the new republic of Nepal on successfully holding the first meeting of its constituent assembly on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 and voting overwhelmingly for turning King Gyanendra into a commoner and asking him to vacate the royal palace in 15 days. "The people of Nepal have clearly spoken for peace and change through the April 10 assembly election," the statement said. "The secretary-general encourages all parties to continue working in a cooperative manner and to form a new government as soon as possible." Ban's special representative for Nepal Ian Martin attended the near-midnight proclamation of republic on Wednesday, called the meet an achievement and said the UN was proud to have assisted in the election of the "most inclusive body Nepal has yet known". Martin said the assembly with its democratically elected representatives, now has the "solemn responsibility to prepare a new constitution as well as to act as an interim legislature during this next important phase of Nepal's peace process, and to fulfill the people's aspirations for sustained peace, economic and social progress, democracy and human rights". 
Gyanendra, now stripped of his title as well as crown and scepter, has 14 days left to vacate the Narayanhity Palace or face constitutional and legal action. He has also lost his legal and tax immunity and will have no extra privilege than an ordinary citizen enjoys. The king's fall will have a grave impact on the other members of the royal family who in the past used the palace's clout to flout the law of the land and gain undue advantages. All members of the royalty have lost their titles and other privileges with the proclamation of republic. The assembly has also ordered the government to disband the palace secretariat, which served as a parallel mini government, and take measures to preserve the property inside the palace that has now become a national heritage. The pink palace, where royalists used to flock during Hindu festivals to receive the blessings of the king who was once regarded as the incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu, will now become a national museum, opening its tightly guarded portals to the masses. 
On May 30, 2008, the Sagarmatha TV relayed the scene of a number of cars coming out of the northern gate at 12.43 A.M. believing that these vehicles must be carrying Former King Gyanendra Shah and his family. The Sagarmatha TV has posted its TV crews at four main gates of the palace to watch the likely exit of the former royal family members. It has been telecasting live scene of the protest against the former king from the area further south of the southern entrance to the palace the whole day on May 29 and continued in the night. The Government of Nepal said that former King Gyanendra was still in the palace.
Two days after the newly elected lawmakers declared the country a federal democratic republic demolishing the 240-year old Shah monarchy, Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs Umesh Mainali said that the order to vacate the royal palace within two weeks was delivered to the palace on Friday, May 30, 3008. The king’s daughter-in-law Hemani had moved to a private home in northern part of the city just after midnight of May 30, 2008, Secretary Mainali said. Speaking on condition of anonymity a palace official said that former King Gyanendra Shah was preparing to move to the Nirmal Niwas, his private home, soon. 
On June 02, 2008, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula led a team of senior government officials such as Chief Secretary Bhoj Raj Ghemire, Secretary to Ministry of Home Affairs Umesh Mainali, Secretary to Ministry of Defense Baman Prasad Mainali, Secretary to Ministry of General Administration Dr Govinda Kusum to learn the actual status of security and assets and property in the palace. The team met with former king Gyanendra Shah for 15 minutes and then Home Minister alone with Mr. Shah for about 45 minutes said the Home Minister to the reporters gathered at the entrance to the palace after the visit. According to the Home Minister, Mr. Shah and he had friendly talks and they used a commoner’s language. Mr. Shah accepted the declaration of Nepal a federal democratic republic done by the Constituent Assembly on May 28, 2008, and was willing to leave the palace within the deadline set by the Constituent Assembly. He would leave the palace as soon as he would have an alternative residence. Mr. Shah was sad to learn the media report about the burning of documents in the palace and taking the artifacts out of the palace; nothing of that sorts have happened in the palace Mr. Shah told the Home Minister. However, other palace source confirmed the burning of documents and taking out of the artifacts from the palace. Mr. Shah has been a beggar in the eyes of Nepalis despite the huge wealth he still possesses.
The Home Minister informed the Prime Minister, Chairman of the CPN-Maoist Prachanda and General Secretary of CPN-UML Jhalanath Khanal about the talks he had with Mr. Shah. Probably, the government would provide Mr. Shah with the Nagarjun palace for the time he would find an alternative residence according to the Nepalese media.
On May 29, 2008, speaking at a reception and press conference held in Kathmandu to mark the first day of republican Nepal, Nepali Congress central member and Constituent Assembly member Narahari Acharya said that the resolution declaring Nepal a federal democratic republic passed by the CA on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 was pursuant to the Nepalese people’s mandate; the voting out of monarchy through the constituent assembly was unique example in the world, and stressed on the need to take this change ahead in an easy and scientific manner. He, however, said the republican campaign he initiated some two years ago had not completed, yet. “It has just passed a phase”, he said. 
With the declaration of Nepal a Republic and abolishing the monarchy by the first meeting of Constituent Assembly on Wednesday, May 28, 2008, Maoist chief Prachanda emerged as the most powerful person in a newly born republic. He achieved his goal of transforming Nepal from the kingdom into a republic. He was set to lead the government of the new republic. Prachanda led his party to a stunning victory in the election for a Constituent Assembly held on April 10, 2008; his party CPN-Maoist bagged 220 seats in the 601-seat Constituent Assembly and emerged as the largest party. 
The US State Department says U.S. diplomats have begun political contacts with Nepal's Maoist Communist Party, the former guerrilla group that has become the largest party in the country's new legislature called a Constituent Assembly (CA) after the election for it held on April 10, 2008. The State Department has quietly opened dialogue with the Maoists in the hope of furthering peaceful change in Nepal, where the new national assembly led by the former rebels voted on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 to abolish the monarchy and establish a republic. The U.S. ambassador in Kathmandu, Nancy Powell, met early this month with the Maoist party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal popularly known as Prachanda. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan Feigenbaum did so as well on the three-day visit to Nepal he completed earlier this week. He also talked to the leaders of other Nepalese political parties. The United States had previously shunned dialogue with the Maoists, given the history of violence that put them on two separate U.S. government terrorism lists. But in a talk with reporters, Feigenbaum said the policy shift occurred because of the Maoists’ participation in the country's comprehensive peace accord and the April-10 assembly elections, both of which had strong U.S. support. Feigenbaum noted that the Nepalese Maoists are not on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, but do appear on two less well-known U.S. terrorism lists that forbid U.S. financial dealings with designated groups and bar their members from traveling to the United States. He said the degree the United States can deal with any of the parties in Nepal would directly depend on the extent to which they continue to embrace the political process and refrain from violence. Feigenbaum said U.S. officials are encouraged that this week's political transition has been largely peaceful, especially since the vast majority of members of the new assembly lack governing experience. 
In a statement, Federation of Nepal Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Nepal Chambers of Commerce (NCC), Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN) and many other organizations welcomed the declaration of Nepal a federal democratic republic by the Constituent Assembly. They also congratulated Nepalis and political parties on the historic change in the country. They also said that many challenges were to be addressed through the effective implementation of promises made by the political parties. 
Association of Nepali Teraian in America (ANTA) said it shared the joy and excitement of all the Nepalis living around the world in celebrating the historic declaration of republic. "We salute this declaration for turning Nepal into an independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular and inclusive democratic republic nation," it said in a statement. The Nepali Americas Council (NAC) applauded Constituent Assembly's courageous decision made on May 28, 2008 to declare Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic and congratulated everyone involved in this smooth and peaceful transition of the country from the 240-year old Shah monarchy to a democratic republic, thereby making the people of Nepal sovereign. NAC said it believed that the tasks ahead of restructuring and developing Nepal were complex and would demand a great deal of patience and hard work on the part of all of the actors. Similarly, Nepalis living in Reading, south east of the United Kingdom celebrated the abolition of monarchy and declaration of Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic expressing happiness over the declaration of Nepal a republic and abolition of monarchy in Nepal. 
The Nepalese Embassy in London celebrated declaration of Nepal a federal democratic republic hosting a reception, illuminating its premises, and observing an official holiday. Speaking at the reception, Ambassador of Nepal to Britain Murari Sharma said that the day marked the realization of the people's desire of several decades for writing their own constitution. He congratulated the Nepalis on making themselves master of their own destiny by abolishing the monarchy and stressed on the challenge ahead was to throw away the feudalistic attitude prevalent in the Nepalese society and seek equality by making everyone economically self-reliant. 
In a press release, the European Union (EU) congratulated the Nepalese people on the declaration of Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, and said that it was ready to support the Constituent Assembly to face the challenge of creating a new constitution that would set peace, democracy, respect for human rights and development. “The European Union Heads of Missions in Kathmandu welcome and congratulate the people of Nepal on the successful conduct of the first session of the Constituent Assembly and the declaration of a Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and look forward to the members of the Constituent Assembly working together to draft Nepal's new Constitution; the EU stands ready to support the Constituent Assembly in this work,” stated a press release issued by the French embassy, the local presidency of the EU, on Friday, May 30, 2008. 
Inter Party Women's Alliance (IPWA) was preparing for increasing its member parties, which would help in drafting a gender neutral constitution. "We are amending our statute to bring in other women and it will be done within this week," said Uma Adhikari, chairperson of the alliance, a Nepali Congress member in the Constituent Assembly (CA). She said the end of monarchy itself means the end of feudalism, under which women were never treated as independent citizens. "But there still remains remnants of feudalism in political parties, family and society, to fight against which a coalition among women from all political parties is inevitable," she added. The alliance was formed after Janaandolan II with the involvement of women from political parties. Currently, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, CPN-ML, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Sadbhawana Party (Aanadidevi) and Janamorcha Nepal are in the alliance. "The Maoist members are very keen to join the alliance, while other parties having women in its central committee will also be invited to join," Adhikari said. The IPWA would also prepare a draft constitution from women's perspective. 
The United Kingdom, Japan and China welcomed and congratulated the people of Nepal on successfully holding the first session of the Constituent Assembly (CA) and on declaring Nepal a federal democratic republic. In a statement issued by the British Embassy in Kathmandu Thursday, May 29, 2008, UK's Minister for Africa, Asia and UN, Lord Malloch Brown, congratulated the people of Nepal on the successful conduct of the first session of the Constituent Assembly, describing it as "another step towards the democratic and stable future that the people of Nepal justly deserve." "I look forward to the CA beginning its work of drafting a constitution that reflects the needs of the people and that will guide Nepal in the years to come," Malloch Brown said. He also urged all parties to respect the mandate given to them following election in April and to continue working in the spirit of their previous agreement during this important period of forming a new government and establishing the CA. Similarly, on Friday, May 30, 2008, talking to journalists in Pokhara, Japanese Ambassador to Nepal Tatsuo Mizuno said Japan welcomed Nepal as a federal republic declared by the constituent assembly on Wednesday, May 28, 2008; the declaration of federal republic in Nepal would be "fruitful for the development of the country" and the abolishment of monarchy in Nepal would have no effect on Nepal-Japan relations or the aid and support it has been providing to Nepal. Speaking at a regular press conference in Beijing on Friday, May 30, 2008, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of China, Qin Gang said, “China is happy at the first CA meeting, and hopes that the peace process in Nepal would move ahead smoothly; China hopes the political stability and economic development will be materialized in Nepal.” 
The Carter Center congratulated the people of Nepal, the government, and the political parties on the first sitting of the Constituent Assembly on May 28, 2008 that voted to transform Nepal into a federal democratic republic. “This is a testament to the commitment and dedication of the Nepali people and their political leadership to sustainable peace and multi-party democracy,” the Carter Center said in a statement issued on Friday, May 30, 2008. The Center further said, “all of Nepal's people, particularly historically marginalized groups, will be able to freely exercise their due rights in an environment respectful of the rule of law and focus on the achievement of peace, progress, and prosperity for all.” The Center had sent a delegation of observers led by former US President Jimmy Carter to observe the CA elections in Nepal. 
On June 02, 2008, the Chinese news agency called Xinhua reported that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government and people respect the Nepalese people's choice of social system and development path suited to its own conditions, said a senior CPC official in Beijing, China according to Head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, Wang Jiarui that met with visiting Krishna Bahadur Mahara, member of the Central Secretariat of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist) (CPN-Maoist) and Minister for Information and Communication, and congratulated him on the success of the first meeting of the newly elected Nepal's Constituent Assembly (CA). 
Dynastic regime had fallen, that had been obstacle to the overall development of Nepalis. The exclusive rulers of the dynastic regime did not permit the majority of Nepalis to engage in social and economic development. The rulers reaped every benefit of the seeds sown by the people’s heavy toil leaving Nepalese people high and dry even in the beginning of the 21st century. The rulers treated all national resources and even revenues as their private assets leaving almost nothing for common Nepalis to subsist on. The new people’s government needs to return all national resources such as forest, irrigation water, and other means of livelihood to the local communities and the local people. In other words Nepalis should be free from the shackles that had bound them for 240 years, and let them make better lives for themselves without much interferences from the State.
 The Himalayan Times, May 29, 2008, “People Rally in Support of Republic”
 The Himalayan Times, May 29, 2008, “US Welcomes Declaration of Republic in Nepal”
 Hindustantimes.com, May 29, 2008, “UN hails dawn of republic in Nepal”
 Hindustantimes.com, May 29, 2008, “UN hails dawn of republic in Nepal”
 The Associated Press, May 30, 2008, “Nepal's deposed king given order to leave palace”
 The Rising Nepal, May 30, 2008, “CA decision adheres to people’s mandate”
 Timesofidia.indiatimes.com, May 29, 2008, “Prachanda achieves ambition, becomes most powerful man in Nepal”
 Voanews.com, May 29, 2008, “US Opens Political Contacts With Nepalese Maoist Party”
 Nepalnews.com ia May 30 08, “Business Community, Nepali Diaspora welcome Republic Declaration
 Nepalnews.com ia May 30 08, “Business Community, Nepali Diaspora welcome Republic Declaration
 Nepalnews.com ia May 30 08, “Business Community, Nepali Diaspora welcome Republic Declaration
 Nepalnews.com ag May 30 08, “EU congratulates Nepali people on declaration of republic”
 Kantipuronline.com, May 30, 2008, Kantipur Report “Women CA members for gender-neutral statute
 Nepalnews.com ag May 31 08 “UK, Japan, China hail Nepal's advent into republic”
 Nepalnews.com ag May 30 08, “EU, Carter Center congratulates Nepali people on declaration of republic
 Xinhuanet.com, June 02, 2008, “China respects Nepalese people's choice”