The Issue of Federalism in Nepal Appears More Complex than the Peace Process and Constitution Writing
ASIA--PACIFIC, 30 Jan 2012
Although, this article has been written sometimes ago, it is still relevant in the case of Nepal on the course to complete peace process concluding constitution writing and Maoist Army integration into society and security forces.
Federalism in present Nepal has become a topic of great contention. Nearly 5-year later to compliance the constitutional provision and after long drawn debate, the Government with the decision of major parties have finally formed nine-member State Restructuring Commission (SRC) to recommend the Constituent Assembly a best possible model to federate Republic of Nepal. Except a few, none of the member of SRC does have expertise in this subject. It means they simple put parties stamp on the blueprint for federalism rather than focusing to the need, desire and benefit of the people and the nation at large. The SRC divides into two bickering: five-member favors 11-state modality, the Maoist proposal of socio-cultural concept whereas four commissioners advocate for six-state federal modality. The minority commissioners walked out of the review meeting of January 27, 2012 dissatisfying with the working style of the Coordinator. It is to true of that the number of federal state should be concluded on the basis of consensus rather than dividing minority and majority voting. The main opposition political parties, namely, Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) will reject the majority vote at the SRC (Republica: January 28, 2012 and Kathmandu Post: January 28, 2012). Without a decision of federal state, neither the writing of constitution nor the integration of the Maoist Army into society and security forces shall be concluded before the last Constitutional deadline of May 28, 2012. The extension of the tenure of the Constitution Assembly for the final six months is the verdict given by the full bench of the Apex Court on November 25, 2011. On December 7, 2011, the Supreme Court refused to register review the applications filed by both the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly stating “the final verdict given by the full bench cannot be reviewed”. It is to be remarkable of that the Court gave a verdict respecting the voices of the people in general as most of them are against the extension of tenure of the CA repeatedly.
Nepal has been a witness of several armed and unarmed struggles conducted by the Gurung, Tamang, Lama, Dalits and so forth. They have struggled against injustice, inequality, repression, absolutism, and for their freedom and livelihood. However, such movements could not attract much of the general population due to lack of strong organization, competent leadership, enough preparation, and strategical skills. The popular movement I of 1990 made the people conscious of their rights and duties. They were also made conscious by the world’s politics. Namely, the cultural, regional, and ethnic-based dimensions that emerged in the 21st century after the US tried to impose free market and human rights policy on the communist regimes of the 20th century. The zeal of the multi-caste, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-regional Nepali people was finally fueled when the Communist Party of Nepal – or CPN (Maoist) – initiated the armed conflict termed the “People’s War” on February 13, 1996. The issues of federalism, national-regional and cultural autonomy, secularism, and the right to self-determination became prominent along with the intensifying of the People’s War. Federation with autonomy has now become the prime agenda of all ethnic, regional, lingual, and cultural based groups in Nepal.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 30 Jan 2012.
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