Nepal’s political crisis deepens

The Guardian reports on the political crisis in Nepal, 23rd January 2015:-

The  Nepal crisis deepens after opposition politicians storm parliament Rivals throw shoes and microphones in scuffle over new constitution, intensifying public angst over slow political progress .

A new constitution is widely seen as a crucial step to ending the instability that has plagued the country since 2006. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters Nepal has plunged deeper into crisis after feuding politicians – throwing microphones and shoes – failed to meet a deadline to table a new constitution, a key step to stability.

Opposition party legislators stormed parliament on Thursday night to prevent the ruling coalition from pushing ahead with a vote to salvage the draft of a charter marred by political rivalries. “Leaders must explain to people why they failed to fulfil their commitment,” said Subas Nemwang, chair of the constituent assembly tasked with preparing the charter.

Landlocked Nepal has been in political limbo since the abolition of its 239-year-old monarchy in 2008. An interim constitution was installed a year earlier at the end of a civil war fought by Maoist rebels. Disagreements over how to carve new provinces have rendered the government unable to move forward, with consecutive parliaments missing deadlines to present a new constitution, stoking further insecurity in a country still coming to terms with its bloody past.

Protesters set alight dozens of vehicles on Tuesday as the Maoist-led opposition called for a general strike to pressure the government into meeting their demands. On the same day, opposition legislators stormed parliament’s main chamber to disrupt the session, throwing microphones and shoes and injuring at least three security officers in the fray. It could be months before another attempt is made to agree on the charter, Nemwang said, although parliament was due to meet again on Friday.

The constitution is an integral part of the 2006 peace deal that ended the insurgency that caused nearly 18,000 deaths. Maoists and regional parties want to create 10 states in the mostly mountainous country and name them after different ethnic groups to empower them. But the ruling alliance fears Nepal, whose economy relies on aid and tourism, cannot afford to fund that many administrations. They warn that affiliating states with ethnic groups could fuel communal tensions.

The UN has urged Nepal’s politicians to rise above narrow interests to reach an agreement. Many Nepalis say the country’s political leaders are insensitive to the economic paralysis in part caused by their rifts. “[They] don’t have any interest other than making money for themselves,” Kale Sarki, a Kathmandu cobbler, said. “I don’t care about the constitution. With or without it I must continue to work here to support my family.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By becoming a HELP volunteer in India or Nepal you will be able to make a direct, personal contribution to the education of young Himalayan people. In so doing, you will be having an unforgettable experience in a new and fascinating world.
Nikola Capla and Petra CvancarovaEverest Boarding School