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We Want Peace In A Way That We Can Live In Peace

We Want Peace In A Way That We Can Live In Peace

By Kamala Sarup

The Peace Media Board Advisor Dr. Alok K. Bohara, already argued.

''Is there finally a golden sunrise in the land of the Buddha? Has the veteran prime minister pulled out yet another rabbit out of his hat?''

"The government has gone further than most previous governments to present a political proposal to the Maoists that is more inclusive and representational, suggesting a path for far-reaching future reforms. The only problem was that it came from a non-elected government, and had to be rejected by the political parties who were. And it didn't go far enough to meet the Maoists' own demands.

"Given the current state of the state, let's not dismiss the proposal outright. It does cover a wide range of desirable reforms with strong implica-tions. Even the initial disappointment expressed by the Maoists and the political parties is partly justified since it omits a set of crucial points all related to the royal duties, powers, privileges, and responsibilities. As for the rest of the issues contained in the proposal, the only fault we can find with it is that it should have come 10 years ago".

We Nepali people argue if everyone would agree that it would be best for the 3 Nepal powers in conflict to negotiate among themselves without outside intervention. Yet, there appears to be a complete lack of trust which may be justified due to previous negotiations conducted with a lack of good faith. Overcoming the lack of trust will be next to impossible without a 3rd party to help bring the parties together.

It may be a stretch to ask the Nepal negotiators to learn to negotiate by actually negotiating. A 3rd party, trusted by all sides, could help the Nepalese parties understand the negotiating process and all sides to see the other parties' positions. The temptation is to "win" the negotiations. When all sides realize there will be no complete winners or losers, only then can there be a peace agreement.

Dr. Alok K. Bohara has published close to 60 peer-reviewed articles in well-known professional journals; has mentored and produced several PhD students; involved in several National Science Foundation grants; has taken on several university-wide assignments; and has published several opinion pieces in Kathmandu based newspapers.

An article published in Nepali Times, Dr. Alok Bohara further added:

"Despite these omissions, the proposed position paper by the government outlining changes in the political landscape of the country is a good start and encompasses some of the ideas we have suggested in these pages in the past year. Civil society interested in seeing liberal democracy foster in the country should find its provisions refreshing. And many of the ideas do encompass demands of the Maoists, the parties, and the civil society:

- Regional level devolutionary governments to devolve the decision making power to the grassroots.
- Proportional representation system of election to help diminish marginalisation of the political and ethnic minorities.
- Setting aside 20 percent seats in both houses for women and other disadvantaged groups, land reforms, and an affirmative action program in the government jobs to ensure social justice and fairness.
- Provision of an interim government, three months prior to the election, to ensure a free and fair election.
- A referendum mechanism to give people sole power to practice direct democracy on issues of national importance.
- Transparency in party activities, financial dealings and internal democracy to reduce conflict of interests and to mitigate incentive for corruption.
- Strengthening the prime minister's executive power by allowing him or her to form a cabinet with experts from outside the parliament, and opening up other measures to lessen frequent dissolutions and enhance stability. If implemented properly, the above main institutional reforms will make our infant democracy more liberal and responsible, and we should welcome these amendments".

Even we Nepali people know, If the concerned parties are serious about achieving peace, dialogue is possible. Given the context of the conflict, it is important to look closely at Nepal's humanitarian situation, particularly ways to allow access to the war-affected population. Safety of humanitarian aid workers are the priority concern even much remained to be done, however, to provide assistance to the wider population. The severe humanitarian crisis in Nepal affected the negotiation process.

As the violence with untold suffering of the Nepali people nears a decade and the parties themselves fail to come together or actors within seem unable to bring them together, search for external role have started and will grow. One side in the current conflict has been seeking UN involvement and some others have joined. Besides its devastating internal impact, the conflict and violence in Nepal also has some serious doctrinal dilemmas and difficult policy problems for the international community, the UN in particular.

Dr. Alok K. Bohara, currently a tenured full professor of economics, Department of Economics, University of New Mexico since 1987 further added;

"The success of the talks will depend on the approach that the government will take in handling these issues. Much of the acrimony between the monarch and the political parties stems from the use and misuse of Article 127. The probability of a successful negotiation is very low if this issue is not settled. Without going into much detail, a good compromise could be to bring Article 127 under the Parliament Act (see 'Ambiguity to Trust', #144).

"In recent interviews, the king has reaffirmed his commitment to constitutional monarchy and the multiparty system, but does acknowledge some technical flaws and ambiguity in both. The voice of the opposition forces in the country is quite firm and unified on Article 127, and it cannot be ignored. A mutually agreeable solution and a modified Article 127 must be worked out to ensure the sovereignty of the people's representatives".

Dr. Bohara received his MA and PhD from the University of Colorado in 1986. Dr. Bohara is the founder of the Nepal Study Center argued:

"The king himself has said in a recent interview that the army is under the command of the civilian government - the prime minister and the defence minister. From his remarks it appears that he would be quite open to such forward-looking democratic reforms.

"A mutual understanding in bigger political issues will make it easier for everyone to sit down and deal with the royal perks. A sensible proposal, without demeaning the throne and the crown, should not be difficult to prepare. King Gyanendra in recent interviews has shown extraordinary flexibility on these issues".

Unless and until legitimate grievances of the rural population, grievances related to poverty, exclusion and poor service delivery are effectively dealt with, conflict will raise its head again no matter how successful action in other areas may be. The peace process could not go forward without real dialogue between the parties. At the same time, it is difficult to envisage constructive dialogue in the absence of a ceasefire.

Peace Media e-magazine is founded on the belief that educating people on conflict resolution is an important step in reducing world turmoil. We believe that the role of the media is to raise a voice against injustice and fight violence. It's Board advisor Dr. Bohara further argued:

"But the larger question remains: does the government have the executive power to offer a set of these compromis-ing solutions to the Maoists? Will the Maoists accept these far-reaching democratic reforms? Or, do they have something else in mind they would like to accomplish through the constituent assembly? If so, what is it? If they are so committed to multiparty democratic system of government, which is allowed under the current constitution and strengthened with some additional modifications, then why can't they put their demand for a republic to a referendum? The government's current proposal has the referendum provision to accommodate that, so why do we need a constituent assembly?

"The solution is out there, and within reach. This impoverished nation and its long-suffering people need a break. And they will reward the peacemakers".

We Nepali know, this is a power struggle which won't be resolved until all sides see that they are going to lose and win. Furthermore, an agreement won't take place until all parties see that they have as much to gain through negotiation as they have to to lose from negotiation. Outside forces for the good can provide positive and negative incentives to the conflicting sides. Once a balance of power is accepted by all sides is when the conflict will be over.

Another factor that is never mentioned is the fact that the negotiations that have taken place up to now have been dominated by the Brahmin and Chettry castes. On all sides- Maoist, government and royalty. Until this small group of privileged Nepalese see that they can't decide for the majoity of Nepalese, the conflict will not be resolved. In other words the Gurungs, the Rais, the Sherpas, the Magars, and all the other Nepalese groups of people must be significantly brought into the dialogue.

Board of Directors of YMCA of Philadelphia & Vicinity, and Chair of International Committee Mary C. Carroll, also further said. My sources tell me that the village people are no longer willing to rubber stamp or even accept the framework of a Brahmin conceived and negotiated peace.


(Kamala Sarup is editor to Peace Media

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