Sunday, February 25, 2024

Nepal Outlook Brightens

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It may not be overoptimistic to think that the cloud over Nepal politics has blown away. Baburam Bhattarai of the Maoist party in Nepal has finally been elected Prime Minister. As Maoists form the majority party in the National Assembly, it may usher in democratic stability. True, Nepal had a Maoist-led government once before which did not last. Much will depend on how Bhattarai promotes the peace process and expedites the drafting of the new Constitution. Chaos has prevailed in Nepal since 2008. The Maoists, the CPN (UML) and the Nepali Congress had been jockeying for position with leadership of the Constituent Assembly remaining wobbly. The Maoists have now formed an alliance with the five-party Unified Democratic Madhesi Morcha. The decks have been cleared for implementation of the peace process. Political acrimony plaguing Kathmandu may soon melt away.

The Bhattarai government should initiate the stabilising process by arriving at a consensus on the first draft of the new Constitution without delay. This will speed up the writing process of the Constitution which has been inordinately delayed. Furthermore, the road blocks should be removed for institutional integration of former Maoist guerrillas who now pose a threat. Maoists haveA recently suggested that 8,000 of them should be inducted in the Nepal Army and that the rest should be rehabilitated in other ways. All parties should be agreeable as rigidity on the issue will be detrimental to the interests of the people of Nepal. The leadership void needs to be filled up. Bhattarai’s election raises hopes in New Delhi for a strengthening of bilateral political and economic ties with Nepal. Time will tell. Past experience has been unsettling.

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