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The Constitution project

Parties in Nepal must not be diverted again by short term issues of power-sharing

Despite bomb blasts, the torching of vehicles and incessant strikes, the Nepalese people demonstrated remarkable courage in stepping out to elect their second constituent assembly (CA) on November 19, registering a record 70 per cent turnout. Ever since the last CA — which failed to fulfil its primary mandate of drafting a constitution — was dissolved in May 2012, democracy in Nepal has been on life support, with a single man heading the executive as well as the judiciary and even amending the interim constitution with a cabinet of retired bureaucrats.

Gauging from the results that are coming in, the people have voted against the UCPN(Maoists) and the Madhesis, choosing to support the Nepali Congress and the centre-left CPN(UML). As soon as these startling results started coming in, the Maoists and most of the Madhesi parties have not only boycotted the vote counting process but also threatened to stay out of the new CA, citing “election irregularities”. If they do not review their stance, it will take Nepal back to the 1990s. There is great danger that the whole process will be derailed, and the country will enter a phase of deep uncertainty.

Nepal has had six prime ministers in the seven years since the people’s movement of 2006 as the CA was reduced to a regular hung parliament with all the theatrics of forming and dismantling of governments. Even today, Nepal is the only country without a full-fledged constitution, an elected parliament, elected government or local elected bodies. Fuelled by the agonising 12 hours of daily power outage during winter, frequent strikes, charges of corruption and a bulky assembly squabbling for four years without delivering the statute, there was popular apathy against leaders who soon turned into caricatures in the public eye. Good governance became a rarity in a country where even the government was difficult to find.

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