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  Nepal: Obstacles to Peace

Kathmandu/Brussels, 17 June 2003: Nepal’s political crisis is deepening with the royalist government, the Maoist insurgents and the political parties all proven capable of derailing the peace process. In particular, King Gyanendra’s recent appointment of a new prime minister generated a great deal of general animosity and concern, with the risk that both the political parties and the Maoists will increasingly take to the streets.

A new report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), Nepal: Obstacles to Peace* says that a large number of constitutional issues will have to be tackled if Nepal hopes to resolve either the war with the Maoists, or its constitutional crisis. ICG urges the formation of an all-party government as an essential step forward. However, first and foremost the royalist government and the king himself need to take a more credible and serious approach to both the peace talks and governance as a whole.

ICG Special Adviser John Norris said: “It will not be possible to forge a broad consensus if the king remains the supreme decision-maker and the peace talks remain solely a dialogue between palace representatives and the Maoists”.

It is also incumbent upon the political parties to act more responsibly, curtailing their perpetual internal feuding and forging an agreement on the composition of an all-party government before such a government is formed. And the Maoists need to demonstrate they are serious about accepting multi-party democracy and open markets.

ICG Asia Program Director Robert Templer said: “Efforts to tackle the country’s deep economic and social disparities should be paramount in constitutional reform. Consensus must be developed on several broad issues: the need for the decentralisation of power and budgetary authority; stronger civilian control over the military (RNA); a more representative electoral system; and ensuring that no one, including the king, is deemed above the law”.

The peace process itself also needs to be managed more professionally. Frequent confusion, personnel changes, a slow timetable and lack of practical confidence building measures are all growing threats to the talks. The international community can help by increasing pressure on the king and the royalist government to form an all-party government, offering technical assistance so talks can be conducted more professionally and pressing India and China to lift their opposition to international technical assistance to those Nepalese groups designated to monitor the “code of conduct” governing the ceasefire between the Maoists and the Royal Nepalese Army. No further military assistance should be given to the government of Nepal without a demonstration of good faith efforts at the negotiating table and a clear timetable for restoring democratic order.

Katy Cronin (London) +44 20 7981 0330 [email protected]
Francesca Lawe-Davies (Brussels) +32-(0)2-536 00 65
Jennifer Leonard (Washington) +1-202-785 1601
*Read the full ICG report on our website: http://www.crisisweb.org/

The International Crisis Group (ICG) is an independent, non-profit, multinational organisation, with over 90 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.


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