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Nepal's King Should Take A Conciliatory Approach

Nepal - What Next?

King Should Sincerely Take A Conciliatory Approach

By Mitra Bandhu Poudel

Nepal again hits the headlines about the announcement of the parliamentary election and the controversial New Ordinance that is aimed at curbing the press. It has brought many contradictions in constitutional provisions related to media.

Perhaps the King thought that it was the right decision for the country and its people. One thing is to be noted that ‘a right decision at the wrong time becomes a wrong decision’ (shiva Khera: You Can Win: pp5).The question is: Is it a proper time to announce the date of Parliamentary election? Definitely not. It is not only irrelevant exercise but also an attempt to sideline the existence of major political parties. King’s enthusiasm of ruling the country with absolute power only put democracy in jeopardy.

In the meantime, King promulgated ordinance deploring the restriction on democratic press and freedom of expression .The intension is very clear to muzzle the press freedom in Nepal. What is exactly in the new ordinance? Prominent Journalist Mr. Yubaraj Ghimire writes in the Indian Express, “The fine for publishing ‘banned’ items has been increased ten fold to Rs 1 lakh(about US $ 1500) and that for publishing, translating and importing items aiding ‘terrorists’ has now been made Rs 5 lakh from the earlier Rs 50,000. The ordinance also puts curbs on the publishing of news items that bring the king or his kin hatred or disrespect. The check earlier had dealt only with news against the king.” He further adds that it has provision to band FM station from broadcasting news and also has restricted person from owning two media outlets.

The motive is so vivid to look black at media houses and journalists as these are not manipulated by his puppet administrators. Hundreds of journalists are going to face redundancy due to this new ordinance. So, government’s claim to help professional journalism through this is- meaningless .No wonder journalists have condemned this black ordinance and they may go for a desperate struggle against it.

Interestingly, India also has criticized the newly introduced press ordinance. According to New, external affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said “Curbs on the freedom of expression and media which is a fundamental pillar of democracy will inevitably be counter-productive."

Similarly, British ambassador to Nepal, Keith G. Bloomfield said, “the new media ordinance introduced by the Nepali government was a threat to democracy”

What will happen then? Will the king hit the Jackpot? Considering the present circumstances, chances are very little.

It is the matter of surprising that why the king does not understand precisely the displeasure of various organizations –national and international on his latest move- obloquy has come promptly from every corners of the world.

As far as the Parliamentary election’s date is concerned, we can have a glance after 2002 to have general information. One more thing is to be noted that in the October 2002, the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba asked King to put off elections by a year due to Maoist violence. King dismissed Deuba terming him “incompetent” and put off elections set for November. And, Lokendra Bahadur Chand was appointed as new Premier.Mr.Chand resigned on May 2003 and Surya Bahadur Thapa was appointed as new prime minister on June. Due to the in tensed street protests by opposition groups, Thapa resigned. In June 2004, sacked Nepali premier Mr.Deuba reinstated.

It is 2005, and still the gravity of the problem is not being addressed. As far as Maoist problem is concerned, if the prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba addressed Maoist 40 points in 1995, he could easily nip in the bud. But it was in vain and eventually it’s the most difficult problem to tackle until now.

It is apparent that Palace has not sincerely done an assessment regarding this matter. King wants to re-gain credibility especially from international community showing them how desperate he is to handle the power over to the elected government. King should stop looking through colored spectacles because the reality is entirely different than what he sees. If the election happens forcibly, you will see the bloodbaths. The country can not deserve it any more. It’s the shame on Royal government that it could not welcome Maoist 3 month’s ceasefire as well. People are thinking to differentiate between anarchist and vindictive-it is quite simple that the former is the one who destroys law and order and the latter takes revengeful action. And, that’s what we found in Nepali Politics. The serious question is: Who does actually want to make Nepal a belligerent nation? If opportunity won’t be taken by the palace to utilize for restoring peace, monarch will definitely miss the bus.

Many political intellectuals are saying that election is impossible with out resolving the present political dispute. Former chief justice of the Supreme Court, Bishwa Nath Upadhyay, said “Chairman of the council of ministers is not a legitimate authority to declare polls or conducting elections if we are to follow the word and spirit of the constitution.”
Although the issue of national reconciliation has been raised through many forums but ultimately it’s been trapped by the palace because King has been bearing down all political parties since he took the absolute power.

Last but not the least, who is going to cut the Gordian knot? King, political parties and the Maoist have to cut the knot. The ongoing talks between the Maoist and the Political parties will definitely influence the upcoming political scenario of Nepal. Government should not play unhealthy tricks on this by misusing media outlets. How can we overcome with the crisis? Firstly, King should sincerely take a conciliatory approach for solving all the current problems with the assistance of seven agitating political parties. Secondly, political parties should come up with the reconciliation with Palace and its rights and duties with in a democracy. Thirdly, political parties should not strict on their word on restoration of dissolved House of Representatives. It is rather irrelevant in present situation.Nepali Congress President GP Koirala’s voice is nothing more than crying over spilt milk in this issue. Fourthly, king should stop converting state runed media outlets in to sycophants’ .As a matter of fact it is suffering a series of set back. Fifthly, royal government should stop blowing its own trumpet for conflict resolution and finally, three parties (King, Political parties and Maoist) should apologize in front of Nepali people for their previous defects.Apparantly; these three factors are too stubborn to admit that they were wrong.


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