Editorials Upbeat on 11/09 Accord
Here's the gist of a week-long survey (Nov 9 to 17): The government-operated Rising Nepal says it is the “Dawn of a New Age.” The independent Kathmandu Post calls it “A Magnus Opum.” The fiercely independent Nepali Times is less optimistic: "What we have now is a stand-off."
Most of the editorials on the recently concluded agreement between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and Maoists, published in the major English-langauge national newspapers are upbeat. Compared to the private press, the government-leaning the Rising Nepal has devoted far more space to editorialize the accord. :
Unity A Must, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 17/06)AS the nation is in transition towards full fledged peace and democracy, unity among all the political forces - inter-party and intra-party unity - is a must to safeguard the achievements of the Jan Andolan and meet the people's aspirations. The people's movement spearheaded by the Seven Party Alliance and backed by the Maoists succeeded in restoring democracy, which needs to be further nurtured, consolidated and institutionalised. In the process of translating the spirit of the Jan Andolan for total democracy and establishing durable peace in the country, the political actors have made some historic decisions. The decisions to cease hostility and violence, go for election to a constituent assembly and restructure the state to ensure the representation of all sections and groups in the political and decision-making process are some of the key issues that are likely to herald a new beginning - the beginning of a democratic, peaceful and prosperous Nepal. The issues may be important, but they are complex, and will require a lot of patience, homework, vision and time. Thus, a cautious approach is needed to accomplish these goals.
The issue concerning peace, democracy and nation building is the responsibility of all. Thus, a united approach is a must for achieving these lofty goals. Unity among the seven parties representing the government as well as unity within the party itself is highly necessary. Against this background, the CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal has very clearly emphasised the need for unity among the constituents of the Seven Party Alliance. It is true that the seven parties must remain united until the election to a constituent assembly is held, a new constitution is promulgated and power is handed over to the government elected by the people on the basis of the new constitution. If parties are divided now, the goal of the Jan Andolan will not be achieved in the way people expected it to. Similarly, there is also the need for unity within the party. At the moment, there is a strong demand from the cadres for unity between the Nepali Congress and Nepali Congress (Democratic). Ideologically, there is no difference between these two parties. As Prime Minister and Chairman of the Nepali Congress Girija Prasad Koirala has already opened the doors for unity, the onus now lies on the leadership of the Nepali Congress (Democratic), in general, and Sher Bahadur Deuba, in particular, to bring the parties together. The sooner the two parties merge, the better it will be for the nation and democracy.
Praiseworthy Support, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 17/06)THE United States of America has assured continued assistance to Nepal even though the Maoists would be participating in the interim government. This statement was made by the visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard A. Boucher while calling on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs K.P. Sharma Oli at his office at Sheetal Niwas the other day. This shows the importance attached by the USA to the ongoing peace process that has been initiated in Nepal. Commenting on the purpose of the visit, Boucher said that he had come to acquire first hand information on the ongoing peace process in Nepal and what the outcome of the peace process would be. It is a kind gesture on the part of the U.S. government to be keen in seeing peace restored in Nepal for which the groundwork has already been laid.
It is only a matter of time before the country traverses the democratic path both in letter and spirit. As a true friend of Nepal, it has always wanted to see the entrenchment of democracy in Nepal. The gesture of this desire is the frequent visits of US diplomats to Nepal and its support for the peace process. As Nepal faces financial difficulties due to severe anomalies in its economy, assistance from a democracy like the United States is vital for carrying out the needed works in strengthening democracy through the revitalisation of its economy. On the question of taking 60,000 Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal, Boucher said that a clear picture would emerge after necessary interaction with the Government of Nepal, the political parties and the sides concerned. Speaking briefly on the occasion, DPM Oli was appreciative of the visits by representatives of various friendly countries, including the US, which have lent support to the peace process and pledged financial assistance.
Similarly, Lena Sundh, representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) has praised the November 8 agreement between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the CPN (Maoist) to promote and protect human rights and has expressed optimism that the parties concerned would abide by it. It was the first press meet she had attended after assuming her office as the head commissioner. She also informed that her office would give more emphasis to monitoring human rights in the districts through its regional offices. In conclusion, it can be said that the friendly countries and organisations, including the United Nations, have been very supportive of the peace process and the achievements made by Nepal in recent times. They have also expressed their keen interest in seeing this country put back on track.
All together now, Nepali Times, Issue #323 (17 Nov. 06-23/06)The first thing to remember is that the absence of war is not peace. What we have now is a stand-off. There is no frontal war killing 40 people a week, but the fear hasn’t abated. The threats remain, people must still do things they don’t want to.
Real peace will come when the rebel and state armies come together and genuinely grieve for the victims of both sides. It will come when they are truly sorry for what they did to each other and to citizens of this country who wanted no part in their war. It will come when they apologise.
What we saw last week in Baluwatar was a relief. But no one said sorry. The agreement wasn’t about the people, but about sharing power. The war was a power struggle and the peace agreement, a division of the spoils.
Still, by clinching the peace deal the leaders have redeemed themselves in the eyes of the people by giving them what they had most yearned for. Now they have to prove their commitment by sticking as best as they can to the slew of deadlines they’ve set.
There are many pitfalls. Will the Maoists implode when they start dividing up portfolios in the interim government? The tarai separatists are on the warpath and not a part of the deal, as are the Maoist militia. There are the doubters, mainly royal residues, who say the peace deal is a sham. In fact, they want it to be a sham so they will be proven right about not trusting the Maoists.
Then there are the seven parties and their fragile alliance, which is always on the verge of falling apart. But it has withstood the past two weeks relatively unscathed, proof perhaps that the alliance is more resilient than we give it credit for. But how will parties that can’t even agree on ambassadorial appointments share power with the Maoists?
As in the past, the NC, the UML, and the CPN(M) have used each other to press home their advantage. But the stakes now are much higher. It is not about power and who emerges on top on 1 December. It is about rebuilding Nepal together following a new, more representative, blueprint. Only then will the last 11 years and the sacrifice of the 15,000 who died not be in vain.
This is not about power any more, it is about this country’s future.
Call For Cooperation, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 16/06)
Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat has called upon the international community and donors to assist in the process of disarming and decommissioning the People's Liberation Army raised and mobilised by the Maoists to spearhead a violent campaign against the state during the last decade. Speaking at a meeting organised at the Finance Ministry the other day, Dr. Mahat referred to the historic accord signed by the government and the Maoists and urged the donors to complement the efforts of the government to re-establish peace and democracy through elections to the constituent assembly. Finance Minister Dr. Mahat briefed the donors on the immediate financial resource needs for the country and pointed out that support from the international community was necessary to build camps and cantonments for the Maoist army, provide them with logistics and supplies, rebuild the security structures destroyed during the violent conflict and conduct elections to the constituent assembly. As observed by Dr. Mahat, the settlement accord signed with the Maoists during the previous week takes the country towards a new era of democratic development.
Since the country is entering the phase of post conflict reconstruction, the cooperation of the international community is very important. Topping the agenda of the nation at the moment is election to the constituent assembly, for which support for both software and hardware will be needed. The international community should come forward to co-operate with Nepal by providing expert services regarding election to the constituent assembly. The international community has enough experience and ideas with respect to election to a constituent assembly as several countries have already undergone this process to resolve intra-state conflicts. Nepal needs to learn from these experiences and derive lessons from them so as to adapt them to the national context. Moreover, as the security arrangement for the election to the constituent assembly is very vital, support to this aspect is also needed. The Election Commission should also be strengthened to cope with the challenges so that it can manage the polls. The international community should come forth to lend a helping hand to make the commission stronger to handle this responsibility. It is hoped that the international community will respond to the call as usual and support Nepal to resolve the problems.
Aid for peace, The Kathmandu Post, (Nov. 16/06)A week after the signing of the peace deal between the SPA government and the Maoist rebels, Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat appealed the donor community to provide financial assistance to clean up the mess made by the decade-old insurgency. The road ahead to establish peace and restructure the 237-year-old state is apparently uneven. The four areas identified thus far include "establishment and operation of designated cantonments meant for the Maoist guerrillas, repatriation of the displaced people, the holding of an election to the constituent assembly and the strengthening of internal security". The interim government of eight parties will have to look for external assistance to bridge the foreseeable financial gap. So the support of the donor community for the interim government is crucial to successfully restructure Nepal from a feudal state to a vibrant and egalitarian one.
There are several reasons why Nepal should seek assistance from the donor community. Nepal has not only attempted to embrace an "inclusive" democracy but has also shown to the world that insurgency could be resolved through a peaceful means. In the process to ensure a peaceful political transition, the ensuing obstacles need to be dealt assiduously. The Maoist insurgency has displaced thousands of people whose return to their villages is essential. Ensuring their return alone will not help them resettle on the land they had owned. It will certainly take years, if not decades, to restore their socioeconomic status in their respective villages. Families who have lost their members during the conflict are still waiting for compensations. Besides, the Maoist rebels also need rehabilitation packages. They need skill training, legal and religious lessons, and activities, during their stay in the designated cantonments, that will help them in the future. The objective of making the rebels engage in skill development activity is to ensure smooth political transition.
The finance minister has sought an estimated US 75 million dollars to set the process on: disarming of the rebels, rehabilitation of the displaced, holding of the CA polls and of course, maintaining of the internal security. And it is also an onus of the donor community to share financial burden. Besides, this is the right time to bail Nepal out of the conflict to let it become an example of how conflict could be resolved with the help of the international community. The SPA government has taken a bold move to restructure this country. The government has identified the problems before integrating the Maoists but it may take years to actually restore the infrastructures destroyed during the conflict. Any financial support during this political transition for Nepal would be immensely rewarding.
Permanent Peace Pact, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 15/06)The Government and the Maoists are to finalise and agree on a permanent peace accord as per the historic agreement signed last week. Since the agreement outlines specific points of consensus and sets the time frame for the implementation of several key measures, the government and the Maoists are obliged to comply by the pact. Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula handed over the draft of the peace pact to the Maoist second-in-command Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai, the other day, and expressed confidence that the signing of the document would herald a new era in the peace building process in the country. Similarly, Maoist leader Dr. Bhattarai reciprocated the views of the home minister and remarked that the pact would be signed as per the deadline, and that the benchmarks established in the historic accord would be fully adhered to. Dr. Bhattarai mentioned that some differences on the content of the draft pact have occurred, but they would be discussed and resolved to assure that the document was signed by the deadline.
The government and the Maoists are, thus, committed to taking the peace process forward and working together to contribute to the building of a new nation. In this context, the importance of the permanent peace pact needs to be recognised and should be formalised as early as possible. The periodic extension of the cease-fire by the Maoists has provided guarantee of peace and normalcy in the country so far, but this is the fragile basis for peace that can be breached any time. Though several other commitments and understandings are in place to support the peace and guard against attempts to perpetrate violence, a permanent peace pact is considered to be a standard document that can bid adieu to violence once and for all. The signing of the pact is necessary to assure the international community and secure vital cooperation and support for post conflict reconstruction. The parties concerned are expected to ink the pact and make it public according to their commitment. URL: http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/content.php?nid=6340
Process Initiated, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 14/06)
THE government is learnt to have initiated the process of manning the diplomatic missions abroad with ambassadors and other key officials. This comes as a good piece of news as the diplomatic missions set up by this country abroad are lacking in capacity due to some delays in appointing key officials. What is relevant to note here is that the seven party alliance government had called back some of the envoys appointed by the deposed Royal government last year, and since then the missions were doing without the key official mandated to lead such offices. There are valid reasons why the delays in appointing the ambassadors have occurred. The first reason has been the singular focus laid on resolving the conflict with the Maoists as peace and democracy are crucial to break the political stalemate and logjam in the country. The second reason has been the need to give new direction to the country's diplomacy for which a fresh strategy has to be identified.
Since the country has witnessed a new political development following the historic accord signed between the seven party alliance and the Maoists recently, it is time now to introduce changes and reforms in several spheres, including foreign affairs and diplomacy. Since the Maoists have committed to join the interim parliament and the government and mainstream themselves in building the nation, the government attention to refurbish and reinvigorate the foreign affairs and diplomacy front is timely and relevant. A new foreign policy vision and thrust should be developed and put to practice to assure that the country is represented and promoted boldly and imaginatively in the international arena. The most important part in his context has been the need to select competent and experienced hands in diplomacy who can appreciate and explain the new positive developments occurring in the country to the outside world. The government should seek to identify the persons based on merit, competence and integrity and appoint them to head the diplomatic missions as such persons alone can give new impulse and sense of positive direction to the foreign policy of the country.
A frolic of his own, The Himalayan Times, (Nov. 13/06)Things appear to be moving in the right direction after the historic November 8 agreement between the SPA and the CPN-Maoist. Homework is reported to have reached advanced stages on the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement. A detailed pact on weapons management is being stressed in order to enable the UN to perform its monitoring role in an effective manner, as the UN will not have the mandate to enforce the pact but only to notify the parties concerned and the international community of any breach. A joint team of the government, Maoists and UN representatives has already started inspecting the sites proposed for determining and then stationing the People’s Liberation Army. As the deadlines for the implementation of the provisions of the deal, such as the formation of the interim legislature and the interim government, seem to be short, the peace preparations need literally to be speeded up on war footing.
These requirements have put added responsibility on the SPA, the Maoists, and other important actors, to make sure that the goal embodied in the agreement is achieved on schedule. At least till the constituent assembly (CA) polls, the eight parties would be serving their and the nation’s interests by working in unison instead of taking one another as rivals. Certainly, in a pluralistic parliamentary democracy, the parties compete. But the CA polls would not see a change of government. If on the one hand, the eight political parties would have to remain faithful to their commitments, on the other, they would be smoothing the way for constitution-making by evolving a consensus on as many areas as possible — monarchy, participatory nature of democracy, and basic features of the new polity, including the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and the security forces.
But some signs of rivalry are emerging. One is the squabble over the question of who will be heading the interim government. Soon after Maoist chairman Prachanda supported the Girirja Prasad Koirala for interim premiership, SPA leaders such as CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal and NC-D president Sher Bahadur Deuba hastened to contradict him by saying that the SPA is yet to decide on the nominee. However, the Maoists claim that an understanding on the matter has already been reached, even while signing the 12-point accord. The SPA is free to decide on the matter, or anybody who is not satisfied with Koirala may lay a claim to the post in the interim legislature. Another CPN-UML leader alleged collusion between the NC and the CPN-M, and yet another boasted of his party “not bargaining hard” for interim legislature seats while accusing the Maoists of getting more, though unelected, through haggling. It is now meaningless to brag about the electoral results of eight years ago; the ground realities are the ones that matter. Each of the eight parties signing the total political package should have a sense of history and rise above petty rivalries and jealousies to cope with the major challenges ahead to give the nation a sense of clear direction for peace, democracy and good governance.
Implementation Begins, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 13/06)THE implementation of the pact between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has begun in earnest. This indicates that both the sides are keen to resolve all the problems through mutual consultation and discussion. That was the basis on which the peace deal was recently concluded. In the process, many issues have been agreed on which after implementation in the right way would go on to holding the Constituent Assembly elections slated for mid-April next year. In the first phase of the implementation of the pact, a team comprising representatives of the government, Maoists and the United Nations launched an inspection of the locations proposed by the Maoists for the cantonments to determine whether those places are suitable from the viewpoint of transportation, security and other aspects. In the process, the team, the other day, inspected Kamalajhoda of Chulachuli Villlage Development Committee of Ilam district and the adjoining areas.
With both the SPA and the Maoists agreeing on the role of the United Nations mission as a facilitator, earlier doubts about whether the Maoists would agree on the confinement of their combatants and arms have been removed. The situation is very fluid at the moment, and both the sides have to trust each other so that the deal reached with so much discussion and delay will not be derailed. With the inspection of suitable sites for the cantonments as proposed by the Maoists, it can be hoped that the other points of the deal would also fall into place to the mutual satisfaction of both the sides. Time is very crucial, and there ought not to be further delay in the overall implementation of the pact. If everything moves ahead with the joint efforts of the SPA and the Maoists, there is no doubt that the CA elections will take place as scheduled. That will be the crucial juncture in the history of the country as it will pave the way for the framing of the constitution of the country that will be all inclusive, unlike in the past constitutions.
Positive Beginning, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 12/06)THE landmark deal signed between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has now set the stage for a flurry of activities. The contentious issues, particularly those relating to arms and army management, have been amicably resolved with the usual degree of understanding between the two sides. What had been looked upon with skepticism from some quarters has been allayed, and now it is time for the agreement to be implemented, thwarting all attempts by the regressive elements from hatching conspiracies to undo the great achievement of the people. Both the sides stand for the rights of the people and fulfilling their aspirations of a democratic, prosperous new Nepal.
With the involvement of the United Nations, the arms and army management aspects will receive the necessary support from all. Herein, it may be recalled that the UN mission is here to act as a facilitator while it is upto the SPA and Maoist leadership to decide how matters will take course. In this regard, an agreement has been reached amongst representatives of the United Nations, the government talks team and the CPN (Maoist) to begin inspecting the arms of the Nepal Army and the Maoists. The tripartite agreement was reached during discussions held the other day. Initially, the inspection will focus on two districts, namely Sindhuli and Kavre. Giving information about the agreement, on Friday, member of the government talks team and Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Pradeep Kumar Gyawali informed the press that on-site inspection would begin from November 11 regarding the storage of the arms of the Maoist People?s Liberation Army (PLA). This is, indeed, a very positive development as far as implementing the six-point deal struck between the SPA and the Maoists. In all these developments, the role of the SPA and the Maoists must be praised. All the doubts, confusion and delay have been put to rest. The various victory rallies that were organised in Kathmandu and elsewhere testify that the delay had been worthwhile in that a peace deal has been clinched. Now, all eyes are set on the Constituent Assembly elections for which the necessary groundwork has been initiated. The demand for now is to implement the peace deal in a pragmatic and sincere manner as it is on this that the destiny of the people and the country rests.
Challenges Ahead, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 11/06)
PRIME Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has called upon all sides, including the Maoists, to strictly abide by the letter and spirit of the historic peace agreement and create an atmosphere for all to participate in the constituent assembly elections in a fearless manner. Addressing the House of Representatives to inform the lawmakers about the historic peace accord the other day, Prime Minister Koirala spoke very sentimentally that the people's aspiration could be fulfilled only when all the political forces work together for the common interest of the nation. According to Premier Koirala, Nepal has made significant achievements over the last seven months since the April Movement, which include the reinstatement of parliament, success of the peace process and the historic agreement reached between the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists. As the peace accord has now been reached, the decade-long hostility, confrontation, conflict and violence have come to an end. It has created a new era of reconciliation and cooperation among the Nepalese people.
The peace agreement has revived the hope among the people from all walks of life and has proved that the Nepalese people are capable of resolving their own problem. The agreement is a new beginning, and a lot more still needs to be done to translate the vision and commitment expressed in the accord. The process would culminate after the elections to a constituent assembly are held and the elected constituent assembly promulgates a new constitution to shape the future of Nepal. Thus, especial care and caution are needed from all sectors. The remarks of Prime Minister Koirala are clearly directed towards this, who called upon all to express a sense of unity and solidarity until the aspirations of the people and objectives of Jana Andolan II are fully achieved. More importantly, a force which waged a war against the parliamentary system of governance for the last one decade and caused such tremendous damage to the nation has now agreed to join the democratic process. It is the victory of the democratic forces. Now more formidable challenges lie ahead in translating the peace accord into action. The institutionalisation of democracy and political process is one challenge while a more challenging job is to expedite the development activities. The nation now is in need of massive reconstruction so that the damaged infrastructure can be rebuilt. Given the nature and magnitude of the challenges, the efforts of the government or a particular party will not suffice. Thus, collective efforts are needed for the cause of the nation.
Dawn Of A New Era, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 10/06)WITH the historic agreement reached between the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists, a new era has dawned in Nepal, one of peace, stability, democracy and prosperity. The agreement has visualised a new Nepal and revived the hopes and confidence of all sectors of the country. The entire nation is upbeat as the agreement for peace is a victory of the people. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has described the new development as a new beginning to create a truly democratic, stable and prosperous Nepal. Addressing Congress cadres in the capital the other day, the Prime Minister called upon all the political forces, civil society and the general to extend meaningful co-operation to translate the commitment expressed in the agreement into action. Other leaders, including Maoist chairman Prachanda, have also dubbed the peace agreement as a triumph of the people. It is, indeed, a victory of all as everyone is a winner in peace and democracy. The nation had been badly bruised by the decade-long armed insurgency, which has killed more than 13,000 people, disabled tens of thousands and displaced many more. The Maoists have agreed to give up violence and join peaceful politics, which is the beginning of the process of reconciliation and nation building in a collective manner.
Through the peace accord, all the political forces have made a solemn commitment to end hostility and animosity and work jointly for the larger interest of the nation. However, this is just a beginning of the entire process. The more challenging job lies ahead, i.e., to strictly translate the commitment expressed in the accord into action. The wise decision and responsible behaviour from all sectors are required, which alone can steer the nation ahead and implement the accord in both letter and spirit. Arms management and election to a constituent assembly need to be held very cautiously. If a slight mistake from any side is committed, it may sabotage the entire process. Moreover, elements that were defeated by the people's power may be unhappy with the peace accord. They may try to fish in troubled waters and create chaos during the transitional period. The transitional period is always painful. Thus, all issues agreed in the historic deal must be executed as early as possible. The political actors must demonstrate a liberal attitude as they have shown during the peace process so that Nepal can enter a real democratic, stable and prosperous era. It is not a time for bargaining for power and position. It is a time to work jointly for peace in the nation. URL: http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/content.php?nid=6016
Happy indication, The Himalayan Times, (Nov. 10/06)Messages of welcome and congratulation on the historic breakthrough of November 8 have started coming in as the Nepalis are holding celebration rallies across the country. Spokesman Gonzalo R Geelegos of the US state department said, “We hope this agreement will be an important step toward establishing lasting peace and a transparent and democratic system of government.” Eric Solheim, the international development minister of Norway, hopes the agreement “prepares the way for an end to the conflict. It is a promising start for a peaceful, democratic and inclusive Nepal.” India has lauded it as a “victory for the Nepali people”. Indian external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a statement, hoped that “these decisions will take Nepal on the path of reconciliation, peace, stability and economic prosperity”. The statement stressed the right of the Nepalis to “freely choose and decide their own destiny and future without fear of the gun” and looked forward to the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement on November 16. Similarly, Switzerland has called the accord “a great achievement”, and Denmark “a decisive and important step towards lasting peace”. For Britain it is a happy indication.
Speaking on Wednesday, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala termed the peace deal a “victory for the people” and Maoist chairman Prachanda described it as “the biggest and historic” event in the modern history of Nepal. Prachanda singled Nepal’s southern neighbour out for the “positive role” it had played in making possible the 12-point SPA-Maoist understanding, which formed the basis for the successful April Revolution. Other countries are likely to send in their messages along similar lines. But the principal challenge lies in translating into reality this international focus and goodwill and the high hopes the final settlement package has generated among the Nepalis. The country stands at a unique and most momentous juncture of its internal political development. Political parties, after seeking the people’s mandate, can mould the future the way they like. This puts a far greater burden on their shoulders.
While the Nepalis have to act more responsibly in the days to come, no less is the need for the diplom-ats of friendly countries to contribute to a conducive atmosphere for free and fair constituent assembly polls. Their siding with or against any party or the continuation of their intemperate statements on Nepal’s internal matters in contravention of the international norms of diplomatic behaviour just because Nepal is not powerful would be most unfortunate. They ought to contemplate how they would have reacted if foreign diplomats in their capitals had conducted in a similar fashion. So the task of putting Nepal firmly on the road of democracy, peace and prosperity in these times of globalisation becomes the obligation of all. It would be difficult to implement the historic accord to good effect without full cooperation of Nepalis and friendly countries, particularly those who have considerable clout in Nepal.
Magnum opus, The Kathmandu Post, (Nov. 09/06)
The democratic political parties and the Maoists have made all Nepalis proud by reaching the historic agreement to put an end to the 11-year old conflict. The agreement has heightened the image of Nepal and the Nepalis. It has once again proved that we are truly a peace-loving, affable people who know how to work out compromises. We have set an example in resolving conflict by fighting down an autocratic monarchy and at the same time resolving an armed insurgency that claimed over 13 thousands lives. The nation is now commending the vision of the political parties and the Maoists in entering into a 12-point agreement in November 2005, which paved the way to this historic agreement of November 2006. The democratic parties had run the risk of being outlawed by the then autocratic monarch for seeking a deal with 'terrorists'. On their part the Maoists took an unprecedented leap forward by deciding to seek their political objectives through peaceful means and in a democratic manner.
The leaders of the entire Seven-Party Alliance and the Maoists should be praised for their work. Very special commendations goes to President of the Nepali Congress Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist Chairman Puspa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda. At this historic juncture, we should not forget the positive and encouraging role played by our neighbor India. The United Nations and the friendly countries of Europe also deserve appreciation for quite often facilitating and lubricating the peace process. The USA played a very important role in side-lining the king, but could not muster enough confidence in the communists in the course of the peace agreement. As the USA is one of our crucial friends and a big supporter, we expect the Maoists and the US to now work together at improving mutual their relations.
The agreement is definitely a magnum opus in the annals of our country, but the challenges have not ceased. There are still many hurdles to overcome before signing the peace accord, gathering in all the arms, locking them away, and keeping Maoist combatants inside the cantonments. If the Maoists fail to meet their announced intention of cantoning 35,000 combatants, their intentions will become seriously suspect. Furthermore, the Maoists have a great challenge ahead keeping their party intact until the elections to the Constituent Assembly and beyond. Constituting an 330-member interim parliament and forming the interim government will be difficult, mainly because of the time constraints. They have agreed to form an interim parliament by November 26, and the interim government by December 1. This will call for real efficiency and hard work on the part of the democratic parties and the Maoists. We hope, the political leaders will not fail the people, fail to live up to their expectations by implementing the historic agreement effectively and amicably.
Within our gates, The Himalayan Times, (Nov. 09/06)The political settlement of the national crisis reached between the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) and the CPN-Maoist in the first hour of Wednesday marks the beginning of a resolute and unfaltering march of the Nepali people towards a new era of peace, as well as of the process of building a new Nepal on the basis of a constitution drawn up by the constituent assembly (CA) elected by the sovereign voters. This will also lay to rest the political row unresolved for the past 56 years surrounding whether Nepal should have a constitution handed by a constituent assembly. The six-point understanding is historic and unprecedented in Nepali history as the people will, for the first time, be writing a constitution to govern themselves via their elected representatives. By implication, they will be carving out their own destiny through the power of the ballot, subjecting all organs of the state — including the executive, judiciary, legislature and the security forces — to a fundamental review and restructuring. Yesterday’s understanding on the total political package also demonstrates to the world a new model of peace and political resolution between the disparate forces of society that Maoist chairman Prachanda had floated on June 2.
The understanding covers a host of issues — the management of arms of both the Maoist and Nepali armies, timeframes for the formation of the interim legislature of 330 members and interim government, signing of a comprehensive peace accord; promulgation of the interim constitution and the formation of an interim government (a process that is scheduled to commence on Nov 26 and be completed by Dec 1); the determination of the parliamentary strength and relative allocation of seats to each party; the pattern of the CA polls combining both the first-past-the-post system and proportional representation; the voting age of 18; and the holding of the CA elections by mid-June for which a date will be set; UN monitoring of arms management and of the CA polls, etc. The fate of the monarchy will be decided by the first meeting of the CA through a simple majority. The political parties have agreed to honour all their past understandings, agreements and code of conduct, besides reaffirming their commitment to a competitive multiparty democratic political system, civil liberties, fundamental rights, press freedom and the concept of the rule of law.
In the days ahead, mutual trust will be required between the political parties more than ever before. Trust and a strict adherence to one’s commitments hold the key to the successful steering of the political process that lies ahead through all the challenges to ushering in of a genuinely pluralistic multiparty democracy. After being fed up with over five decades of political experimentation which largely failed to provide good governance, raise the people’s general standard of living significantly, rein in corruption and abuse of authority in body politic, and even institutionalise any kind of democracy except for relatively short intermissions of multiparty exercise, the Nepali people are now pinning high hopes on the results of a process that has just been formally set in motion with the historic accord. In this context, the political parties and their leaders must learn from both within and without — that is, from our own past mistakes and wrong practices, including those committed after the 1990 pro-democracy movement, as well as from the experiences of other countries with democracy and good governance. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Prachanda and other major leaders who have shown statesmanship in reaching the present compromise must be aware of these and may be expected to emerge and act equal to the huge task ahead.
Sixteen years ago, too, the political leaders had assured the people that the constitution in the making then would be a lasting one and nobody would be allowed to trash it. But the promise did not hold as autocracy got the upper hand more than four years ago. The situation now is vastly different and the new constitution that will be made will not be subject to the kind of serious compromises of 1990. The changes the Nepalis have witnessed in just seven months after the April Revolution are based on the solid foundation laid by the Maoist armed struggle of ten years and the 12-point agreement between the SPA and the Maoists signed in New Delhi, that made the defeat of autocracy possible in such a short time. Today’s democratic gains are the most fundamental the Nepali people have won in the country’s entire history. That also means that in order to consolidate these permanently through the constituent assembly, the major political leaders and all citizens need to show a high degree of alertness, maturity, wisdom and courage.
Special Editorial: History At Midnight, The Rising Nepal, (Nov. 9/06)The Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists have redeemed the pledge made to the nation. The historic accord signed Tuesday midnight, following protracted and prolonged negotiations, is historic and epoch-making, and sets an example for the whole world. The world should draw inspiration from the model of conflict management crafted and tested in Nepal. The model has been tried, revised and designed by the political actors and leaders in Nepal who got engaged in and made serious contribution to the settlement of the conflict. One should not forget the fact that Nepal's case of conflict is unique and the solution to it has been sought taking the nature, pattern and characteristics of the conflict into account. The conflict in Nepal owes its genesis to the social structures and unequal economic relations, which have denied opportunities for development to the marginalised and deprived sections of the society.
It has been a conflict that calls for state restructuring to provide space for women, Dalits and the Janjatis so that they can identify themselves with the Nepali state and nation. The case for conflict is the case for democratisation of the state and society in Nepal. It is a case for the creation of new political and social institutions that would enlarge the space and ground for representation and participation of the underprivileged and underrepresented section of the society in the state institutions. The Maoists who conducted the violent conflict for 10 plus yeas have agreed to end the armed insurgency after the state and the existing political forces conceded to their demand for the election to the constituent assembly. Elections to the constituent assembly have been conceived as the most important event in the political and constitutional history of Nepal as this fulfills the promise made to the people around six decades ago.
The epoch-making accord agreed upon and signed by the Seven Party Alliance leaders and the Maoist leadership has committed itself to conducting the election to the constituent assembly next year. Moreover, the accord has brought reconciliation among the leaders on several outstanding issues, which is one of the significant achievements in the context of peace building in Nepal. The most complicated issues regarding arms management have been resolved, and the parties have agreed that the arms would be separated from the combatants and locked under the supervision and vigilance of the United Nations. The combatants will be sheltered in camps set up at different locations of the country. The state will provide logistics to the ex-combatants while it will fulfill its other obligations stipulated in the accord.
The most important part regarding the participation of the Maoists in the interim Parliament and the interim government has been decided and agreed upon. The Maoists will have at least 73 members in the interim Parliament which will have a total of 330 members. The other meaningful aspect of the deal has been that the first meeting of the constituent assembly will decide upon the position of the monarchy. The agreement regarding monarchy comes amidst differences among the parties as the UML had mooted that the destiny of the monarchy should be decided through recourse to referendum. With respect to the system of election, it has been decided that a mixed election system would be followed that includes the combination of the proportional and majoritarian model. This will indeed lead to enlarged representation and participation of the different social and political groups in the process of making a new democratic constitution.
The parties have agreed to form a high-level monitoring panel to oversee the compliance of the different accords and understandings agreed upon from time to time. What is important in this context has been the stipulation in the accord regarding the permanent peace accord to be signed soon. As the peace secretariat is drafting the permanent peace accord, it is expected that the parties will finalise and agree to it with a view to giving stability and continuity to the peace and democracy building process in the country. The interim constitution is also being finalised soon and the provision for the establishment of the constitutional court will be enshrined in it. The accord stipulates that agreement among the political forces will control the activities inciting insecurity and intimidation. It is expected that the law and order situation that appears a bit weak and fragile will come to stable form. The accord is, thus, a path breaking one to lead the country to peace and democratic stability. What is needed in this context is firm adherence to it.
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Posted by Editor on November 17, 2006 12:08 AM