Nepal: The Uncertain Future of the New Republic

Nepal: The Uncertain Future of the New Republic
Kathmandu/Brussels, 3 July 2008: Nepal’s major parties should cooperate in a coalition government led by the Maoists, who won the April Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, to help the world’s newest republic avoid political instability.
The International Crisis Group today released companion reports: Nepal’s Election: A Peaceful Revolution?, an extensive analysis of the 10 April vote, and Nepal’s New Political Landscape,* which examines the major challenges remaining in a peace process that has made considerable progress but is still incomplete. The voters in the CA elections delivered a mandate for peace and change, giving the Maoists a clear victory but leaving them without an absolute majority. The major established parties, shocked by their defeat, have stalled the formation of a Maoist-led coalition government.
“The political landscape has changed irrevocably, but the old parties have not woken up to the new realities”, says Rhoderick Chalmers, Crisis Group’s South Asia Deputy Project Director. “The aftermath of the election has been marred by the behaviour of powerful losers, who are reluctant to keep the promise of working on the basis of consensus”.
Nepal’s Maoists crowned their transition from underground insurgency to open politics with an electoral victory that was impressive but insufficient to allow them to dominate the CA, which must both draft a new constitution and serve as a legislature. Overall, the elections were credible, and the CA is far more representative than any past parliament. But the Maoist’s surprise success has thrown the traditionally dominant parties into confusion, as has the emergence of powerful new regional parties.
Multiple issues need to be tackled in order to build a sustainable peace, most critically security sector reform. The continuing existence of both the People’s Liberation Army and the Nepal Army is inherently destabilising. The national army remains outside meaningful democratic control, and Maoist willingness to discuss compromise options has met with a brick wall.
All main parties must accept the election results and form a consensus-based government under a Maoist leadership that in turn still has a distance to go to prove that it is irrevocably committed to democratic behaviour. The CA and the new government must also rebuild law and order in the countryside, put an end to the culture of impunity that grew during the long civil war, do more to build peace at the local level and adjust to other changes in the political landscape such as the rise of identity politics.
“The way in which political leaders cope with the political challenges of the election aftermath will determine whether the remarkable result delivers peace and change or further conflict”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director.
Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) +32 (0) 2 541 1635
Giulia Previti (Washington) +1 202 785 1601
To contact Crisis Group media please click here
*Read the full Crisis Group report on our website:
The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering some 60 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

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