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Asia

Pressure on Nepal's political parties to break political deadlock

With disagreement over who should lead the consensus government, the three main political parties in Nepal have asked the president for five more days to decide.

Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav has told parties to form a consensus government

Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav has told parties to form a consensus government

After an emergency meeting on Friday -- the original deadline to decide on a consensus government -- the political parties in Nepal have agreed to ask the president for an extension of five more days.

Disagreement among political parties to amend regulations on holding the prime ministerial election also postoned Friday's Constituent Assembly session.

According to local newspaper reports, a notice posted at the parliamentary secretariat in Nepal said that the parliament session would resume on Monday.

Political deadlock continues

Political stability is what Nepal urgently needs after a political deadlock for the past six months, since Madhav Kumar Nepal's resignation as prime minister, with major political parties nowhere near unity on writing a constitution.

"Nepal literally doesn't have a constitutionally valid caretaker government or executive authority at the moment," Yuvraj Ghimire, the editor of Nepal's The Reporter Weekly, told Deutsche Welle.

"There are parallel and separate kinds of crisis, compounded together - to produce a situation where the service delivery is almost nil," he said.

Nepal's Maoists are the country's largest political party

Nepal's Maoists are the country's largest political party

The final term of the UN Mission in Nepal to monitor weapons and rehabilitate former Maoist combatants has also ended, raising questions about the future of the peace process.

Tamrat Samuel, Asia Pacific Director of the UN's Department of Political Affairs who is in Nepal, explained the political parties had come to an alternative arrangement.

"The monitoring personnel under the new arrangement made up of security forces from both the government and the Maoist army have arrived in the cantonment sites and the weapon storage site in Kathmandu of the Nepal Army, although unfortunately, this agreement came too late for our arms monitors to have adequate overlap so they could work together to ensure a seamless transition. We are doing our utmost with whatever capacity we have left on the ground to help them establish the monitoring procedures," he said.

Tamrat Samuel added that the integration and rehabilitation of the combatants was an urgent task that political leaders must focus on.

However, Yuvraj Ghimire said this would be difficult given the longstanding disputes between the largest party, the Maoists, and the second largest party, the Nepali Congress.

May deadline for a new constitution

Ghimire also said it was extremely unlikely that political parties would be able to meet the May 2011 deadline for a new constitution.

"There are more than 100 contentious issues," he pointed out. "The parties, which decided four years ago that they would work on the basis of consensus on constitution drafting, have gone back to their own political parties and thoroughly discredited it."

Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned as prime minister last year in attempt to break the political deadlock

Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned as prime minister last year in attempt to break the political deadlock

But Anagha Neelakantan, Nepal analyst with the International Crisis Group, thought a new constitution could still be agreed upon "if there is a fundamental agreement on basic political issues, like on how to divide up the states."

She said it was the "biggest challenge the parties face" but pointed out that Nepal’s first democratic constitution had been written in a matter of months in 1990.

"Many groups, ethnic groups in particular, see this as the first step towards building a just and inclusive society," she added.

"There are a number of communities that are historically marginalized and not well-represented in institutions of the state. There’s also great deal of exclusion on the basis of where in the country you are. Some parts of the country don’t really get their fair share of resources from the centre."

Crucial role of New Delhi

Neelakantan said that India's role was crucial because "the fractious relationship between New Delhi and the Maoists has contributed in part to the stalemate."

"If there were to be some sort of fruitful discussion that could change the nature of this relationship, maybe that would help break the deadlock in power sharing too."

Analysts say that India's difficult relationship with Nepal's Maoists has contributed to the stalemate

Analysts say that India's difficult relationship with Nepal's Maoists has contributed to the stalemate

Ghimire pointed out that there were basically two ways out of the crisis for Nepal: "One, people will intervene in an organized manner and tell the political parties that 'we don’t have any trust in you and that we will manage our own affairs.' There will be some kind of movement for restoration of democracy and political stability of Nepal. Two, the political parties go through a process of introspection and say 'what we did in the past four years is done, we're going to review it and we'll settle major issues and we’ll abide by what the Nepali people decide.'"

The UN Security Council is expected to endorse a resolution urging Nepal's parties to work in consensus to complete the peace process.

Author: Sherpem Sherpa
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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