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Special Edit: Internal Goodwill Needed in Nepal

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Despite political uncertainties, Nepal must focus on holding the CA elections on time. This needs goodwill among political actors and citizens.

Almost a year after the historic peace deal of November 2007, the peace process appears illusive in Nepal. For naysayers, the political actors provide ample examples of a dwindling peace process. The latest incident that jerked public confidence came as a series of blomb explosions last week in Kathmandu that took the lives of some innocent citizens and maimed many others. Serial bomb blasts in the capital are unheard of since the infamous explosions in 1985.

The manner in which the government conducted investigations have added further fuel for political bikering. Without solid evidence on the table, speculations make rapid dispersal in Nepal. Some, like the Maoists and other anti-monarchy lobbies see a royal hand in the explosions. The army has hinted a Maoist hand in the incident. The general public is caught between those two extremes, a majority of doubters swining in the middle.

Whoever is behind the dastardly act must be held accountable. Rather than speculations, the government must focus on solid evidence and comitt to a thorough investigation. There is no doubt that Nepal today has become a country where even minor grievances are nurtured by violent means. And this is unfortunate at this historic juncture when the country is preparing to hold the first ever consituent assembly elections to decide the fate of the nation's polity. For too long, more than half a century since the Ranas were ousted from power, Nepalis have been fueding among themselves to decide once and for all the nature of their system. And in November, they are slated to vote for their desired system. But given the general political climate at the moment, many doubt that the elections may even be held.

For one, the Terai agitation has not subsided yet-- despite a recent deal between the government and the Madeshi groups. In fact, the Madhesi leadership is perpetually splintered, weak and divided in its public loyalty. Some such groups are not even interested in dialogue and continue to stick to their seperatist agenda. Life in Madhesh is chaotic. Obstructionist and violent bandas are a regular feature. Security situation is precarious and given such instability cirminals and thugs reign the countryside.

Another is the continued Maoist raj. The comrades are sharing national seat of power in the interim governmnt and continue thier dubious policy of violence and dialogue. The Young Communist League (YCL), a youth wing of the Maoists today has taken the lead in intimidation and anarchy. Thier name may evoke a youthful do-gooders' image, but Pushpa Kamal Dahal has successfully exploited the media's zeal for new acronyms. Novelty, in name or in deed, is always newsworthy for journalisits. So the national newspapers and other media channels have much to report about "YCL" and thus the tag "Maoists" has acquired some sort of positive image these days.

Beyond the seemingly frustrating environment shaped by politicians and thugs, the civil servants are fighting an uphill battle to meet the requirements of the scheduled CA elections. The most daunting task is to undertake logistical arrangements in a topographically and ethnically diverse country. It also includes educating the voters about the significance and the processes of the historic elections. The elections dates have been already postponed in the past, and another postponement will only add uncertainty and negatively affect the public mood. A timely, free, fair and transparent election is the only way out of this prolonged deadlock.

So we must as a nation and as united citizens, focus on the important task before us. Let us be a generation that embraced dialogue, that became goal-oriented, and that helped choose a polity to settle once and for all the system our children and grandchildren will appreciate. Let us not drag the debate on what system is best for Nepal for another generation.

In no other times in our history the international community is so much involved in the political process in Nepal. Our neighbors and the world community is lending their helping hands at this critical phase. We must creat goodwill and understanding among ourselves too to truly leap forward from this national crisis.

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Brihát Śhānti Sámjhautā, 2006
(Comprehensive Peace Agreement)

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