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Dashed hopes


APR 14 - The year 2069 pushed the country towards instability and uncertainty

When the year 2069 began, it seemed that it would likely be the final year of Nepal’s peace process, the year when all the transitional tasks from war to peace would be completed. At the time, the parties had finally reached an agreement on the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and the process was reaching conclusion. There was little more than two months for the expiration date of the Constituent Assembly and it seemed that the parties, having finally realised the gravity of the situation, were trying to find constitutional compromises in earnest. Such hopes were dashed in the early months of the year. Although the

integration process was largely completed, there was great public shock when the Constituent Assembly was dissolved. In retrospect, this was the single most significant event of 2069. The year was meant to usher in a period of stability following the drafting of a permanent constitution for the country. Instead, it turned out to be a year that thrust the country into further instability and uncertainty.

The year 2069, therefore, can be remembered as the year when the political parties squandered the goodwill and hopes that the population had invested in them. These parties had gained legitimacy and stature through their leadership of the popular movement against the king in 2062/3 (2006). They had promised to rectify their mistakes and act in a more responsible manner than before. Unfortunately, this could not happen. Politics in the years after the war demonstrated some of the worst tendencies of the 1990s. The struggle for power between the parties led to interminable stalemates. This in turn led to a steady growth in popular disillusionment and apathy towards politics. There was once a time when large sections of the population followed political news with keen interest. Now, many people say they are so fed up with politics that they find following political news a zero-sum exercise.

Yet, it has to be mentioned that the fault does not entirely lie with the political parties. True, their irresponsibility was one reason for the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. But the matter over which they were unable to reach agreement, namely the issue of federalism, is one that divided the entire nation. The disagreements between the parties simply reflected divided views among the population on how the Nepali state should be restructured.

There should not be major hopes and dreams for the coming year. The single most important task for the political class in the year 2070 will be to salvage what has been lost over the previous year. This can be done only through elections. Seeking a fresh mandate will not resolve all the country’s problems, but it will once again set the country on a path of democratic deliberation.

Posted on: 2013-04-15 08:30

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