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Not their idea of Nepal

Why the UN and Western donor states seem unhappy about the electoral outcome.

Why the UN and Western donor states seem unhappy about the electoral outcome.

The solidarity among the major pro-election parties and the international community,so visible till a fortnight ago,may not have crumbled altogether,but there are clear signs of major problems. The pre-election alliance of the four major parties has now collapsed,with the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) walking out and heading a new alliance of 16 parties reluctant to accept their miserable performances in the polls.

The international community also appears to be towing different lines,with a section of the UN and key Western donors coming around to the view that the emergence of the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) — relatively the most democratic — as the largest parties may be a setback to the Maoist-led agenda of the empowerment of Dalits,marginalised and ethnic groups as well as women during the last six years. The UN Department of Political Affairs recently briefed EU ambassadors,expressing that fear. The new House has less representation from these categories compared to its predecessor.

The UNDPA’s doubts can also be interpreted as an endorsement of the boycott and the line taken by the UCPN-M and its new allies on the electoral outcome. How will the international community,which certified the elections as free and fair,encourage some forces to go against its outcome? But the UN and EU have invested substantial amounts of money,expertise and energy in promoting ethnicity-based provinces and politics in Nepal. Much against their calculations,the electoral outcome has been seen as a rejection of caste and ethnicity-based politics,since the UCPN-M and the pro-ethnicity parties fared miserably.

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“It will be wrong to say our agenda has been rejected. We will go to the street in support of identity-based politics”,said the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN). The statement coincided with the UNDPA’s assessment of the poll outcome and a focused debate on ethnicity-based policy on a BBC programme funded by the UK’s Department for International Development,which has also promoted and supported various ethnic groups and ethnicity-based politics in the past. With the electoral drubbing of the Maoists,this section of the international community is torn between two choices — whether to go with the winners or to continue to support the Maoists and identity politics.

China,which has clearly opposed identity politics and the restructuring of Nepal thereby,is worried that it will suffer a spillover effect. A high-level team of China’s external intelligence group was on a week-long visit to Kathmandu to assess the situation and warn that Nepal should move ahead with its constitution-making,instead of doing something to the detriment of China’s integrity.

India,the other powerful neighbour,seems confused about Nepal’s direction post-election,which it had thought would be smooth. But if India’s oft repeated stance — that a stable Nepal is in its best interests — represents its true wish,that unfortunately appears to be nowhere near the reach of Nepal’s politicians.

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Not only is the Constituent Assembly (CA) a badly hung one but the UML has put forth a condition for supporting government formation led by the Nepali Congress. The UML wants President Ram Baran Yadav,a former Congress leader,to quit and make way for a UML nominee. But the question of government formation will arise only after CA 2 is duly constituted. The UCPN-M,as the third largest party with only 80 members in a House of 601,is adamant that its members not take the oath until a probe is ordered into their allegations of rigging and manipulation.

The euphoria about the successful conduct of the elections appears to be too shortlived,since divisions among key actors pose a renewed threat to the constitution-making and peace process. The international community,seen as short-sighted by the Nepalese,has wasted its opportunity to exert moral pressure by getting deeply involved in the domestic affairs of Nepal.

yubaraj.ghimire@expressindia.com

First published on: 16-12-2013 at 01:44:29 am
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