Political realignment could further delay solution in Nepal
Exactly three months have passed since Nepal’s Constituent Assembly got dissolved following failure to give the country its new constitution. But there’s no end to the political and constitutional crisis that has gripped the country as a result of that letdown.
It’s not as if nothing much is happening. On Monday, the warring parties, both in government and in opposition, agreed to restart the stalled peace process by taking forward integration of over 3000 former Maoist combatants into Nepal Army.
The caretaker government is holding to power and trying without success to hold fresh polls. And opposition parties have refused to take part in elections till Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai leaves office and a national unity government based on consensus is formed.
In absence of clarity about who’s in charge during this critical period, a cold war between the government and President Ram Baran Yadav is also underway. The latter’s refusal to endorse two election-related ordinances recently was an outcome of this tussle.
And during this phase of attacks and counter-attacks among parties, the country is also experiencing major realignment of political players. In time this development could pose problems in resolving the present crisis in the Himalayan nation.
Earlier this month, nearly 20 parties led by the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and its Madhesi coalition partners announced formation of a Federal Democratic Republican Alliance.
Headed by UCPN (M) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, the alliance’s main objectives are ethnicity-based federal states and promulgation of the new constitution either by reviving the dissolved CA or by holding polls to elect a new one.
Members of the alliance claim that it is a strategic and long term grouping that would last till the elections. And to demonstrate their seriousness, they have threatened to launch street protests against those opposed to ethnicity-based federalism.
The move has been slammed by Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), Nepal’s two main opposition parties who have remained staunchly opposed to ethnicity as benchmark for creation of new states.
It is this crucial difference between the ruling coalition and NC and CPN (UML) that had led to breakdown of talks over the new constitution and dissolution of the CA in May.
Though Prachanda has suggested both parties to form their own alliance—they have not shown any such inclination yet. However, the Maoist chief’s former colleagues who split in June to form the Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist, seem to have liked his suggestion.
Terming the FDRA as an opportunistic move by the Maoist-Madhesi coalition to remain in power, the Mohan Baidya led party along with eight smaller players has formed the Nepal Federal People’s Republic Front.
They may be part of the FDRA, but Madhesi parties are also in talks among themselves to either merge or form an alliance ahead of the next polls to protect their interests and strengthen the Madhes cause.
Despite supporting similar causes like development of their region and more representation of Madhesi people in all government spheres, these parties from the country’s Terai region bordering India have witnessed several splits in past years over differences among leaders and power sharing.
Another development is the coming together of indigenous and marginalized communities under the banner of Social Democratic Pluri-National Party, a proposed outfit whose manifesto was released on August 9 on the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
Expected to be formally launched in couple of months, this alliance comprising ‘janajati’ leaders from all prominent parties and other eminent citizens is opposed to marginalization of indigenous communities by people from upper castes and dominant upper castes from hill regions and are in favour of ethnicity-based federalism.
Besides hurting chances of consensus on issues related to constitution, elections and a national unity government, in coming days, this polarization of groups with diverse agendas and possible hardening of stances by them could spark fresh round of violence (like it happened prior to dissolution of CA).
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