Nepal’s Democracy Is Not People-Centric: Galtung

ASIA--PACIFIC, 4 Mar 2013

The Weekly Mirror, Nepal – TRANSCEND Media Service

Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is neither federal nor democratic. This assessment has been made by no other than world renowned peace mediator professor Johan Galtung of Norway.

Galtung, who also involved in mediating the truce talks between the Nepali state and the then rebels-Maoists-  in 2003 and 2006, said the features of Nepal’s political system are ‘party-o-cracy, bank-o-cracy and India-o-cracy. He even labeled the recent proposition of an election government led by Chief Justice (CJ) as the manifestation of technocracy.

Galtung, in an interview with The Kathmandu Post, gave reason to justify how the political process of the country has turned party-cracy:  “You have a number of parties making deals among themselves. There are only political games.”

He said that in a democracy, the people have the last word but Nepal has not held local elections and neither there has been any referendum on any critical issue. “In fact, Nepal failed to make any meaningful use of the revolts of the past like the Chinese did by opening up their country after Cultural Revolution,” he opined.

Also in an interaction programme organized recently by Nepal Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Galtung moaned that Nepal has not made any efforts to address the root cause of the conflict despite facing a decade-long conflict.

Moreover, he extrapolated that the root cause of conflict in Nepal is inequality.  “There is a conflict between the center of political, economic, military and cultural power in Kathmandu, and the rest which is powerless.  In addition the power center got stuck, incapable of enacting power.  The violence occurred from below against inequity; or from above to maintain the inequity status quo.”

He also was disappointed with the continued ignorance to the sufferings of common people stating that the elites’ concerns were, however, addressed.

“There is little compassion for those suffering in Nepal. Some 25 percent of the Nepali populace are living below the poverty line and 50 percent of the casteless dalits continue to excluded as non-Nepali speaking people,” Galtung bemoaned.

He even went to the extent of stating that the elite class is more engaged in serving their own partisan and parochial interest at the expense of socio-economic inequality in the country.

“For the elites, there was concern for violence control and formation of parliament, head of the government and head of state but not social inequity. As such, the resultant massive deprivation has triggered asynchrony,” he charged.

He characterized Nepal’s democracy as the one that is governed by the people but not for the people. “Nepal is extremely top-heavy and centralized,” he said. “There is no provision for elections in the 14 regions, 75 districts or 4,000 villages, for referenda-initiatives. “

He even opined the multi-party system in the country is being increasingly mocked by a few privileged politicos.  “They (political parties) make power deals among themselves, but consensus-action and majority-based action seem blocked or can be vetoed with street protests,” he said.  “The armed forces keep increasing.  Key commissions are crippled. Clear budget is a distant dream and new constitution has also appeared like a chimera.”

Galtung termed the peace process nothing more than a cease fire process. “A causal chain from unresolved conflicts, polarization, dehumanization and violence induced trauma calls for a peace process with four components: mediation for conflict resolution, peace-building with equity, harmony and conciliation for healing and closure,” he recommended.

He said that cease-fire without conflict solution may reopen the violence and conciliation without conflict solution is only pacification. “This may lead to massive instability, general strike, violence. Conflicts must be addressed creatively by the country’s leadership in order to genuinely address the people’s daily sufferings,” he suggested.

WM Correspondent

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