April 25, 2006Foreign Affairs

Next for Nepal (2)

How not to have another elephant in the room

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

And then he did what was inevitable. He climbed down all the way. As Kunda Dixit writes

It was a compromise that gave all three forces a face-saving way to back down: the parties got their parliament restored, the Maoists got the promise that parliament will deliberate on a constituent assembly and the king got to keep his throne. [Nepali Times]

By reconvening the parliament that he dismissed four years ago, he has left it to the political parties to sign off on Nepal’s new constitutional arrangements. The parties have lost no time in announcing that the only agenda on the reinstated parliament’s table will be the decision to call elections to a new constituent assembly. It will be up to the constituent assembly to decide on the fate of the monarchy.

The Maoists have an implicit assurance that their demand for a constituent assembly will be met. Will they now voluntarily abandon their armed struggle? While the raison d’être no longer exists, the vested interests for the armed group to continue violence remain. The immediate need is to extract a commitment, for whatever it is worth, from the Maoist leadership that the elections to the constituent assembly will take place only after they declare a permanent halt to their armed struggle. The Indian government must prevail upon the SPA to insist on this as part of any resolution calling for elections to a new constituent assembly.

Update:Nepalese blogger Deepak Adhikari predicts that the international community will monitor the arms of both the Maoists and the Nepalese army while the elections to the constituent assembly are held. Cessation of hostilities is necessary for the conduct of elections, but making the elections itself contingent on Maoist disarmament is a better idea.

According to newspaper reports, India appears to be coming round to such a position.

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