Nepal : Democracy On Hold

A year after millions of people took to the streets in wild jubilation, after King Gyanendra of this Himalayan nation capitulated to calls for an end to his absolute rule shortly before the midnight of April 24, 2006, things don’t look rosy at all. Regular proceeding of the Parliament, which the King had reinstated after conceding defeat, was disrupted on May 16 this year for the ninth time in just a month; killings are reported almost on a daily basis in the southern plains—called the Terai, inhabited by the Madhesi community of Indian origin—that share borders with Bihar and Uttar Pradesh; the violence in the Terai, now running into the fourth month, is slowly taking communal shape; little known groups have wreaked chaos in the streets, making it impossible for the common man to live peacefully; the Maoists haven’t allowed the United Nations to commence verification of combatants confined in 28 cantonments across the country, citing deadlock in the political process.

Following the success of last year’s people’s movement, political leaders promised to hold the constituent assembly elections in June, but they have been postponed. Above all, as the May 14 editorial of The Kathmandu Post puts it, “there is near-complete breakdown of law and order”. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M), which abandoned a decade-long armed insurgency—resulting in the death of over 13,000—to join the political mainstream, now occupies over one-fourth of the parliament seats and holds major cabinet portfolios.

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