Saturday, May 22, 2010

"The choices are difficult and the consequences are far reaching"

Report by Mukit N. Kattel. 22May2010, 6:30 pm Nepal time.

Since it is certain that no new constitution is going to appear by May 28, exercises have started for the post-May 28 period. The situation in Nepal is decisive and fast. Each of the rivals are undergoing vigorous civil and military homework and discourse.  The debate is centred around whether to extend the tenure of the Constituent Assembly or not, whether it is legal to extend this tenure or not, what if extension or no extension of the tenure or whether this fight is for the chair or a major change and who to be blamed for the consequences. People are divided on these issues. The choices are difficult and the consequences are far reaching.

The ex-monarch is organizing big public meetings in western Nepal and his supporters are trying to create public opinion for the resumption of the pre-2008 constitution in case no new constitution is in place within the defined time (i.e., May 28). A pro-Indian and pro-monarchy statesman (a noted ex-prime minister) is visiting India today for informal political consultations. Some NC leaders have started claiming the leadership of next government and are arguing that the tenure of the CA must be extended.

UML leader and Prime Minister Nepal has one more time revealed his true intention during his talk with a Norwegian minister by stating that he was NOT been in favour of the CA and supported the concept of CA just to please the Maoist party. He has been heavily criticized for this statement and is asked to apologize publicly. The UML is now campaigning for an amendment of the Interim constitution again to provide legitimacy to this government and the CA in the post-May 28 period.
A recent splinter of the Maoist coalition party, the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum, has declared that it also has formed its youth wing for fighting discrimination and malpractices in a peaceful manner. Being attached to a major ethnic group of the grain and industrial belt of southern Nepal bordering India, this step has a big meaning with respect to the adherence to the issue of federalism. Ethnic groups are worried about the threat posed by the legitimacy of the interim constitution that favoured their autonomy.  Some leaders have warned that Prime Minister Nepal's failure to resign would result in also parallel ethnicity-based governments in the country.

The government has already mobilized senior army officers for post-May 28 jobs, even though many ministers have been irresponsive in their jobs and have been caught being involved in bribery.  According to Maoist-inclined FM radio Mirmire, a PLA senior officer has been abducted and physically tortured in Patna, India.

Internet and mass media information shows that general people are finding hard times to determine whether the fight is for the chair or for a major change and Prime Minister Nepal or largest party leader Prachanda are to be blamed for the consequence. Some intellectuals are commenting that more time and energy has been wasted in a power-centered fight than in the fight for poor people-friendly issues related to the new constitution through the education and organizing of the people.

The Maoist party is discussing whether to extend the term of the CA or not and has talked to major parties about resolving the political stalemate. This party is still adhering to its demand that the term of CA can not be extended until the resignation by the PM and agreed on having a consensus government in this party’s leadership (which the rivalries are still opposing and are repeating the demand of disarmament of this party and return of land /properties used by the resource poor to respective landlords).  Reports say that different leaders within this party also have different views on the issue of extension of tenure of the CA---these leaders are regarding this issue as related to whether to go for incremental changes or for a major change. Denial of extension the term of the CA implies the move for a major change or a successful culmination of the Third Peoples’ Movement. They have a difficult choice to make.

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