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Nepal Monitor: The National Online Journal

World Newspapers on Nepali Republic

World newspapers' editorials forsee a bumpy road adhead for the Himalayan republic.


World newspapers foresee a bumpy road ahead for the republic of Nepal. The following are some samples from some of the world's leading newspapers:


Birth of a Republic
the Japan Times, May 31, 2008
Nepal has become a republic. A special assembly of legislators voted overwhelmingly this week to abolish the country's 239-year old monarchy. The Maoist-dominated Parliament now begins the difficult task of governing one of the world's poorest countries. All the country's political parties and its people will need our help.

The monarchy suffered a powerful blow in 2001 when then Crown Prince Dipendra killed his father, the popular King Birendra, and eight other members of the royal family in a mysterious massacre, and then killed himself.
King Gyanendra took the throne, but he proved to be an unpopular leader. His future was all but sealed when he dismissed the government and took absolute power in 2005, a move that triggered nationwide protests and ultimately forced him to give power to an elected government.

The return of civilian rule opened the door to negotiations with Maoist insurgents who had fought a decade-long civil war with the government in Katmandu.

The guerrillas traded bullets for ballots in a November 2006 peace accord and entered politics. They won an overwhelming mandate in parliamentary elections held last month, taking 220 seats in the 601-seat Parliament. The Nepalese Congress, Nepal's oldest political party, won 110 seats, while two other parties claimed 155.

Members of the Constituent Assembly - the group elected last month - voted 560-4 Wednesday night to abolish the monarchy. The king has been given two weeks to move out of the palace - which will be turned into a historical museum - or be forced out.

Now the legislators must draft a new constitution. Power is expected to reside in the prime minister's office, and the Maoist leader is the front-runner to claim that post in the new government.

The new government will face considerable challenges. The first concerns the fate of the 23,000 former guerrillas.

As part of the peace agreement, they voluntarily put down their weapons and entered United Nations-run camps.
The Maoists want the former guerrillas integrated into the Nepalese Army, but they face resistance from the army itself and other political parties.

Finding a workable and enduring solution depends on tackling the second and equally pressing task of promoting economic development.

Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries. Income per capita is about $1,100, and one-third of its citizens live below the poverty line. The national economy has depended on tourism, a sector badly damaged by the country's civil war.

The new government will also have to conduct a delicate geopolitical balancing act. Nepal is sandwiched between India and China, and both Delhi and Beijing compete for influence. A government skilled in such matters could exploit that competition for aid and assistance.

Nepal's political parties have a sad history of corruption and ineptitude. King Gyanendra dissolved Parliament as a result of his frustrations with the old political order.

National unity is a precious commodity in Nepal, and it has never been more needed. Failure of the country's politicians to find a common purpose will condemn Nepal to continuing poverty and strife.

If there is no peace dividend or if those rewards are not shared equally among all the people of Nepal, civil war is likely to resume. Without help and a conscientious leadership, the new republic of Nepal may find its life bitter, brutish and short.

URL: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20080531a1.html

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The Republic of Nepal
The Hindu, May 30, 2008
The coup de grace was delivered by the Constituent Assembly in minutes but the end of Nepal’s monarchy was long years in the making. Decrepit, authoritarian and ineffective, the realm of Gyanendra, the last monarch of Nepal, was a far cry from the kingdom established by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1768. Nepal at the time was a frontrunner in the nation-building process in South Asia. The country was unified but eventually lost its way in the intrigue and corruption that seems the lot of all monarchies. The 1846 Kot Parwa — a massacre that anticipated the royal parricide enacted by Dipendra more than a century and a half later — led to the rise of the tyrannical Ranas.

The Shahs wrested power back in 1951 but now had to contend with a new claimant to power: the people. This was something King Tribhuvan and his successors, Mahendra and Birendra, could never fully reconcile themselves to. By the time Gyanendra inherited the throne in 2001, the country was at war with itself. Had he been wise, he would have realised that the Maoist insurgency was the product of Nepal’s feudal economy and social structure and that only an inclusive, democratic revolution could save the country from bloodshed. Wisdom, alas, was not his strong point. The monarchy’s fate was already settled but his February 2005 putsch hastened its demise by opening a path for the Maoists to join hands with the NC and the UML.

By getting rid of its monarchy in a transparent, democratic and dignified manner, Nepal has shown that revolutions, no matter how historic or momentous, need not always be bloody. But the people of Nepal voted for much more than an end to the monarchy and this is where the real challenge for the Maoists and their allies lies. The popular mandate is for a coalition government that can oversee the writing of a constitution that enshrines the desires and aspirations of the country’s peoples for an inclusive republic in which the economic, political, and social rights of all are guaranteed. While the parties are entitled to bargain hard over the conditions under which they agree to join the new Maoist-led government, this fundamental truth must not be lost sight of. Secondly, the end of the monarchy does not by itself bring the country’s peace process to an end. The integration of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal Army and the creation of a democratic and accountable military culture are equally important tasks that need to be fulfilled. The parties did well to sink their differences in order to consummate the establishment of the republic. Civilised cohabitation now is what Nepal needs.

URL: http://www.hindu.com/2008/05/30/stories/2008053055301000.htm

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New Republic
The Times of India, May 30, 2008
It's official. Late on Wednesday evening, Nepal became the world's newest republic when the country's constituent assembly overwhelmingly voted to abolish the monarchy.

The assembly passed a resolution proclaiming Nepal as "a secular, federal, democratic, republic nation". Only four of the 601-member assembly voted against the resolution.

The vote was the culmination of a political process to formalise the dissolution of the 240-year-old monarchy. Though there were fears that there might be violence in the run-up to the vote, it was largely peaceful.

Suspected royalists set off some bombs in Kathmandu, but there were no casualties. The Maoists — who won more than a third of the constituent assembly's seats in elections held in April — and their leader Prachanda deserve credit for this peaceful transition.

Ever since the Maoists declared a truce in 2005, their principal demand was an end to the monarchy. The trappings of the monarchy — from removing the king as head of the Nepalese army to erasing royal emblems from all spheres of life — were gradually done away with over the past year.

Last year, the Nepalese parliament voted to declare Nepal a federal democratic republic. The formal declaration of Nepal as a republic concluded this process.

Though Nepal's former king Gyanendra will have to move out of the royal palace in Kathmandu, the Maoist leadership has sensibly agreed to offer him reasonable time to make alternative arrangements.

The Maoists have also made it clear that the king can stay in Nepal as an ordinary citizen. They could take a leaf out of the South African experience of reconciliation under the guidance of Nelson Mandela.

This would go a long way in healing the scars of the violence that wracked Nepal for nearly a decade till 2005 and help in making the new republic more stable.

The Maoists have shown that they are willing to embrace the norms of democratic, party politics. They have agreed on a power-sharing formula with the two other major players, the Nepali Congress and the communists.

Under this agreement, Prachanda will be the prime minister, Nepali Congress leader G P Koirala the president and the communists, in all likelihood, will get the constituent assembly speaker's post.

This augurs well for the assembly which will over the next two years draft a new constitution. It would have to deal with several thorny issues, including the fate of some 20,000 former Maoist fighters and the demands of newly assertive ethnic groups from southern Nepal.

If the Maoists display the same kind of flexibility that they have been showing, Nepal's transition to a republic might be less bumpy than most observers feared.

URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Editorial/TODAYS_EDITORIAL_New_Republic/articleshow/3084021.cms

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Nepal in transition
Irish Times, May 29, 2008
NEPAL'S DEMOCRATIC revolution has culminated in the abolition of the 239-year-old Hindu monarchy and the proclamation of a republic by the new constituent assembly. Elections last month gave the country's Maoists most seats in the assembly, allowing them to form the new government. Yesterday's symbolic meeting was delayed by security uncertainties, but there is no reversing the historic transition from feudal monarchy to modern democracy on the roof of the world.

The ancient Himalayan society of 28 million people has had a very chequered experience of parliamentary rule since gaining independence from Britain. After years of wrangling between king and parliament the partial democratic experiment was dissolved in 1959. A "party-less" absolute monarchy ruled until 1989, when a popular movement forced the now outgoing King Gyanendra's predecessor, King Birendra, to accept constitutional reforms. This system was rudely interrupted by a growing Maoist rebellion that started in 1996 and claimed 14,000 victims. Gyanendra's complete failure to suppress it after seizing absolute power in 2005 spelled the end of his dynasty following an agreement between the Maoists and other parties to demand democratic change. The Maoists withdrew from an all-party coalition to demand immediate abolition of the monarchy and have now won that political argument.

How they will use their power is a huge question facing the new republic. Recruited disproportionately from lower castes, minority groups and disadvantaged women, they are a fiercely egalitarian and republican rather than a socialist movement. Their leadership demands a comprehensive modernisation of Nepalese life within a multi-party framework and a regulated market society. Whether such an essentially social democratic vision will be sustained depends greatly on how effectively the party's 30,000 troops and activists can be absorbed into the army, civil service and other new institutions and how its leaders adapt to government.

Nepal is also a very poor society, but a strategically placed one, whose political direction will be influential among its neighbours. The Maoist movement there has several parallels with the Naxalite movements in northern India, which will be inspired by their victory. Nepal will also demand renegotiation of "unequal treaties" agreed with India after independence. These dramatic events are a welcome reminder of the power of political change.

URL: http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/2008/0529/1211830557414.html

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True democracy the best hope for Nepal
South China Morning Post, May 29, 2008
God kings are secure in their temples so long as the people continue to love them. If not, their right to rule is no longer secure. King Gyanendra of Nepal, the world's last Hindu royal ruler, long ago lost the reverent affection of his people. Yesterday, the country's new assembly met to abolish the monarchy, to put an end to the dynasty that has ruled the country for 240 years. This is the first step in the transition to a secular republic. Matters did not have to end that way. But it became inevitable once the king seized absolute power. That played into the hands of Maoist insurgents who eventually emerged strongest from elections for the assembly.

The future of another Himalayan monarchy, meanwhile, looks secure. In Bhutan, thankfully, the people were given democracy without having to fight for it. The fourth king of a Buddhist dynasty that has exercised absolute power over the tiny, secluded kingdom for 100 years launched political reforms last year and then stepped down in favour of his son. Two months ago, elections marked the transition to democracy with a constitutional monarchy.
Similar reforms in 1990 offered the promise of a better life for Nepal's impoverished people. But this was eroded after the insurgency began in 1996. The shooting dead in 2001 of most of the royal family by the crown prince, who then allegedly killed himself, brought the late King Birendra's younger brother, Gyanendra, to the throne. The nation cried out for healing and reconciliation, such as a peace process that included the Maoists. Instead it got a grab for absolute power which Gyanendra claimed he needed to combat the insurgency. He ignored good advice, such as the suggestion he should show he cared about his people by turning over some of his palaces for use as hospitals or schools - fatal errors of judgment.

For the sake of the people, their newly elected representatives must exercise sound judgment when choosing a constitutional model for the new republic. True democracy offers the best hope of developing the country's economic potential and improving living standards. But it must be safeguarded by effective checks and balances against the emergence of another dictatorship.

URL: http://www.scmp.com/

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Nepal and India
the Hindu, May 1, 2008
Whatever the long-term challenges and opportunities presented by Nepal’s Constituent Assembly elections, the first problem Indian policymakers must face is the unwillingness of key Nepali stakeholders to accept the reality of the Maoist victory. Sections of the Nepali Congress leadership, including Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, are seeking to hold on to power. Such manoeuvres are the antithesis of the consensual spirit needed to write the country’s new Constitution. The NC leadership is clearly being egged on by the United States, which is committed to preventing the Maoists from coming to power. The top brass of the Nepal Army and the soon-to-be-defunct Royal Palace share this undemocratic aim. India, which has invested political capital in the democratisation process in Nepal, must realise that any subversion of the people’s mandate will have damaging consequences for both Kathmandu and New Delhi. The real message from Nepal’s voters was that all the major parties must work together to ensure socio-political stability and create favourable conditions for people-oriented development. There can be no denying the Maoists’ democratic right, as the largest party, to lead a coalition government that includes the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist). India needs to align its policy to encourage and facilitate such an outcome.

New Delhi must also prepare itself for a formal request from the first government in republican Nepal that the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship be replaced by a more contemporary and even-handed agreement. The truth is that the treaty — some of the features of which were a legacy of British colonialism — was concluded between two unequal partners in a world that no longer exists. Among the provisions that offend national sensibilities are those giving New Delhi a say in Kathmandu’s purchase of military equipment from a third country and granting India ‘first preference’ for industrial and natural resource projects in Nepal. Such provisions are clearly inconsistent with the small Himalayan nation’s sovereignty and have, in any case, proved unimplementable. With respect to the advantages Nepal enjoys under the 1950 treaty, New Delhi will be wise to follow the ‘Gujral doctrine’ — which states as its first tenet that “with its neighbours like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, India does not ask for reciprocity, but gives and accommodates what it can in good faith and trust.” In a recent interview to The Hindu, Maoist chairman Prachanda observed that it was more or less impossible for Nepal to have stability and prosperity without increasing the level of its cooperation with India. New Delhi must seize the moment.

URL: http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2008050155341000.htm&date=2008/05/01/&prd=th&


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Nepal can ill afford violence at the polls
South China Morning Post, April 10, 2008
Nepal's hopes of being lifted from the dismal circumstances it has been mired in for more than a decade hinge on today's elections. Centred on a peace deal with Maoist rebels two years ago, the vote aims to turn the nation into a republic by electing an assembly to draw up a new constitution that will ditch the monarchy.

The process seems straightforward, but there is nothing simple about it. Violence that scarred the nation throughout the rebel insurgency has re-emerged in the lead-up to the polls and if it continues today, will undermine their credibility. Political leaders and the government have to do their utmost to stem the unrest.

Elections are an important facet of democracy, but they have to be held in free and fair circumstances. This has certainly not been the case so far during campaigning. The violence constituted candidate intimidation and an attempt to scare off voters.

Nepal has great potential for development. Boasting many of the world's tallest mountains, tourism plays an important part. Rich agricultural land in the south offers a strong base from which to grow. Low wages are an incentive for foreign investors.

But a series of events starting with the Maoist insurgency in 1996 eroded the promises the introduction of
democracy six years earlier created. The shooting dead in 2001 of most of the royal family by the crown prince, who then killed himself, scarred the national psyche. The new king, Gyanendra, took back direct rule shortly after and until the peace deal was signed, reigned with an iron fist. Nepal, as a result, is among the world's poorest countries.

Despite the elections offering so much opportunity, sectors of society do not want them to go ahead. Royalists and splinter Maoist factions have no need for democracy. Minority political parties claiming to have been left out of the process want a boycott. Armed groups fighting for autonomy in the southern plains want strikes.

Authorities and political groups must try to ensure that the election is more peaceful than the campaigning. The parties that win must work closely and harmoniously to build Nepal afresh. Every effort has to be made to include marginalised communities so that all grievances can be tackled. The Constituent Assembly is as much about nation building as state building. Nepali identity has to be redefined. This can happen only if the first step - well-run elections free of violence - is attained.

URL: http://www.scmp.com/

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Asian Voices: It's Now People's Turn
the Statesman (India), April 10, 2008
As you read this editorial, the time for electoral canvassing will have formally ended. The next 48 hours are setaside exclusively for the people to finally make up their minds. Though silent canvassing won't end until the very last minute, the 48-hour lull prior to polling is very crucial because this is when people who were not sure about theirchoices can finally decide. As there are more than 50 per cent new voters this time round, any last minute wave islikely to take an unexpected turn. The new voters are still weighing their options. The behavioUr of the politicalparties, the security situation and the undercurrents in the campaigning will have a significant impact on the outcome. The Kathmandu Post believes these youngsters, who are voting for the very first time, will be coming to the pollingbooths without any politically baggage, and to make sure that peace and stability is restored in the country.

The people of Nepal will definitely utilise the poll opportunity to take their revenge against politicians andpolitical parties that have failed them in the past, and they will be awarding a once-in-a-lifetime chance to thehonest, competent, democratic and pacifist among poll contestants. Obviously, the political parties are up to all their old tricks to hoodwink the voters. They are out to pressure, intimidate, lure, threaten and warn the voters. But Nepali voters are no cowards. These are people who have staked their lives time and again to root out dictatorship. They willnot forego the vote just because they fear they would be beaten. Similarly, most voters will not fall for warnings that the way they vote would be monitored through binoculars or secretly embedded cameras. Those resorting to such cheapploys will be punished mercilessly by the people. We wish our political parties had played a somewhat more maturerole.

The older parties that won the people's confidence in the past are obviously upbeat. But newer parties like the Maoists and the Madhesi are not far behind. People might well consider trying out a new party if they feel confidentenough about it. If the parties and politicians in the fray behave, respect the voters and allow them to vote theirminds, the results might come as a surprise to many. However, if they take the popular aspirations for peace forgranted, they will be duly punished. It has been over eight years since Nepal last gave a poll verdict. On the eve offresh elections at last, we urge Nepalis to vote without fear and prejudice. It is now the people's turn. It iseach and every individual's turn. We have to properly exercise our right to choose our candidates. The Kathmandu Post requests all its readers to go for the vote and also to persuade friends and relatives to do likewise. If we wantto change our country, we should all cast that vote.

URL: http://www.thestatesman.net/

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[Note: The above editorials are lifted from the websites of respective newspapapers. If you own copyright to the above texts and would not like us to excerpt them, please email us at nepalmonitor@gmail.com and we will immediately remove them from our website-- Editors]


Posted by Editor on June 4, 2008 11:45 AM