Vol. 22, No. 5,514 - The American Reporter - September 7, 2016



by Chiranjibi Paudyal
American Reporter Nepal Correspondent
London, England
May 15, 2006
Reporting: Nepal
NEPAL REGAINS ITS FOOTING ON STEEP PATH TO DEMOCRACY

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LONDON, May 13. 2006 -- The new democratic government of Nepal has arrested five ministers and suspended chiefs of its security forces involved in the suppression of popular movement that forced King Gyanendra to give up executive power and reinstate the Parliament.

Former Ministers of the King's cabinet including Kamal Thapa (Interior), Ramesh Nath Pandey (Foreign Affairs), Shrish Shumsher Rana (Information), Tank Dhakal and Nichhe Shumsher Rana were arrested by police at the recommendations of the high-level judicial commission formed to probe the atrocities committed during the peaceful demonstration against the King's rule across the country last month.

The government has also suspended nine security officials including Inspector General of Police Shyam Bhakta Thapa, Armed Police Chief Sahabir Thapa and the chief of the National Investigation Dept., Deviram Sharma.

They were accused of using excessive force to suppress the peaceful pro-democracy supporters in Kathmandu and other parts of the country when more than one million people people came into the streets last month demanding the end of the autocratic rule of hereditary King Gyanendra.

At least 21 people were killed, more than 5,000 injured - most of them suffered serious head wounds - and over 5000 were arrested. Now all are released.

People from all walks of life have been pressuring the new government for strong action against the perpetrators of human rights violations during the royal regime.

The new coalition government of seven parties has wide support, including that of the country's Maoist rebels, in fighting to end dictatorial rule of monarchy. The seven parties have an absolute majority (more than 95 percent of the seats) in Nepal's parliament.

Since the reinstatement of the House, the government has called on the Maoists rebels to come to the negotiating table to resolve the problem of insurgency, which was said to have been sparked by exploitation and injustices committed by the monarchy that has ruled the country for 237 years.

Feudal groups - royally-chartered families with extensive lands and businesses - who formed the support base of the King exploited the innocent illiterate Nepalese people living in rural areas for centuries, and they were deprived of education, health facilities, telecommunications and road transport, the Maoists and many others say.

Responding to the government's appeal, Maoists have declared a cease-fire for three months and the government has reciprocated. Now, Nepal has become a peaceful country for the first time in 15 years.

The underground rebels, who were declared terrorists by the state and had bounties on their heads - and red notices posted on every corner ordering police to arrest them, have been addressing crowds across the country peacefully and openly.

The government withdrew the "red corner notice {as the posters were called), and the terrorist tag while releasing some of their leaders arrested during the regime of the king. The government has agreed to hold an election for the constituent assembly to write a new constitution, the main demand of the rebels.

"Peace can be there if government works sincerely, and now Nepal is moving to the right direction," a diplomat from a major donor country based in Kathmandu told The American Reporter.

The king tried to present Maoists as terrorists and get international support to suppress pro-democracy supporters and the major political parties, he said.

"The king failed in all fronts," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The diplomat is right, most Nepalese say. The king's government imposed censorship on the free media, arrested leaders of the political parties and human rights activists, and appointed people known as "regressive," meaning of an anti-democratic nature.

That hidden agenda was exposed from all sides, however.

The Maoists had declared cease-fire for four months in September but the King led government and army incited them, attacked them and arrested their cadres even during the cease-fire period.

The rebels signed a 12-point agreement with the seven parties in November agreeing to end the autocratic rule of the king and hold elections, mainly to decide the fate of the King.

The government is under intense pressure to bring the army under the control of parliament and cut down the power of the king so as to make him completely a titular monarch, but even that is not acceptable to many people.

"We want the election of the constituent assembly without any pre condition," said Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the spokesman for the Maoists. That means the end of monarchy, he indicated.

The king has become so unpopular that his entire collection of strategically-placed message boards have been destroyed, his statue in the center of the city was torn down, and government employees have even removed images of the king and queen, a tradition for centuries, from their offices.

Ministers were forced to not go to the King to take their oaths of office and the new speaker of parliament, Subhash Nemwang, elected Saturday, took the oath not in the palace but in parliament.

Everywhere, broken traditions are making the role of the king purely ceremonial.

In fact, is moving quickly back onto the democratic path it had been forced to leave. The support of the international community, including the United States and India, has been widely praised. Major donor countries have pledged support for an economy ravaged by the insurgency and the emptying of state coffers by the royal regime in the name of suppressing terrorism.

The top U.S. official for South Asia, Richard Boucher of the State Dept., visited Nepal and expressed America's commitment to cooperate with Nepal's government to strengthen democracy, maintain peace and move forward on development activities. Interestingly, he did not meet with the king despite a scheduled meeting with the Gyanendra.

Nepalese observers say the monarch, once revered, "chopped off his own legs" by ignoring the demand for democracy and peace in the tiny Himalayan nation.

The once-powerful monarch was helpless even to stop the arrests of his right-hand men, who were telling people not to support the seven parties that were struggling to restore democracy until a few weeks ago.

The words of the late Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, seem especially poignant in the context of Nepal: "I did not understand when people were with me," the Shah reportedly said after he was overthrown. "Now I understand and people are no more with me." Perhaps that is the inevitable end for dictators who develop an egoistic gene.

Once again, a conflict-ridden but beautiful Himalayan nation has returned to its past glory, this time with the end of autocratic rule and a fresh commitment to join the long line of democratic nations.

AR Correspondent Chiranjibi Paudyal has provided ground-breaking coverage for The American Reporter of the transition from democracy to autocratic rule and back since 1999, when he visited our offices in Hollywood as a guest of the State Dept., the U.S. Information Agency and the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles.

Copyright 2016 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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