Politics of Nepal

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The politics of Nepal function within a framework of a republic with a multi-party system. Currently, the position of President (head of state) is occupied by Dr. Ram Baran Yadav. The position of Prime Minister (head of government) is held by Sushil Koirala.[1] Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and his cabinet, while legislative power is vested in the Constituent Assembly.

Until May 28, 2008, Nepal was a constitutional monarchy. On that date, the constitution was altered by the Constituent Assembly to make the country a republic.[2]

Political conditions[edit]

1990–1996: Parliamentary monarchy[edit]

Until 1990, Nepal was an constitutional monarchy running under the executive control of the king. Faced with a people's movement against the absolute monarchy, King Birendra, in 1990, agreed to large-scale political reforms by creating a parliamentary monarchy with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government.

Nepal's legislature was bicameral consisting of a House of Representatives and a National Council. The House of Representatives consisted of 205 members directly elected by the people. The National Council had 60 members, 10 nominated by the king, 35 elected by the House of Representatives and the remaining 15 elected by an electoral college made up of chairs of villages and towns. The legislature had a five-year term, but was dissolved by the king before its term could end. All Nepalese citizens 18 years and older became eligible to vote.

The executive comprised the King and the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet). The leader of the coalition or party securing the maximum seats in an election was appointed as the Prime Minister. The Cabinet was appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Governments in Nepal have tended to be highly unstable; no government has survived for more than two years since 1991, either through internal collapse or parliamentary dissolution by the monarch.

In the first free and fair elections in Nepal in 1991, the Nepali Congress was victorious.

The 1994 election defeat of the Nepali Congress Party by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN(UML)) made Nepal the first communist-led monarchy in Asia, with Man Mohan Adhikary prime minister. In mid-1994, parliament was dissolved due to dissension within the Nepali Congress Party. The subsequent general election, held 15 November 1994, gave no party a majority and led to several years of unstable coalition governments. As of the May 1999 general elections, the Nepali Congress Party once again headed a majority government. There have been three Nepali Congress Party Prime Ministers since the 1999 elections: K.P. Bhattarai (31 May 1999 – 17 March 2000); Girija Prasad Koirala (20 March 2000 – 19 July 2001); and Sher Bahadur Deuba (23 July 2001 – 2003). The final distribution of seats in Parliament gave the Nepali Congress 113; the CPN(UML) 69; the RPP 11; the RJM 5; the NSP 5; the Workers and Peasants Party 1; and the United People's Front 1. Nepali Congress Party has divided to Nepali Congress Party led by G. P. Koirala and Nepali Congress (Democratic) led by Sher Bahadur Deuba. Amongst the elected MPs, 39 MPs belong to Nepali Congress (Democratic). Former Prime Minister and Influential Leader Krishna Prasad Bhattarai has expressed his support for Nepali Congress (Democratic). Both Congress parties regard Krishna Prasad Bhattarai as their main leader.

1996: Maoist insurgency[edit]

In February 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) began a violent insurgency in more than 50 of the country's 75 districts. About 13,000 police, civilians, and insurgents have been killed in the conflict since 1996. In July 2001 Prime Minister Deuba announced a cease-fire, which the Maoists pledged to observe, as part of a government effort to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict. Although Maoist-instigated intimidation and extortion continue, the killings have largely subsided since the cease-fire was announced. The government and Maoists held talks in August and September 2001.

Political parties agreed in 1991 that the monarchy would remain to enhance political stability and provide an important symbol of national identity for the culturally diverse Nepali people. The King exercises limited powers, including the right to declare a state of emergency in the event of war or armed revolt, with the advice and consent of the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister. According to the constitution, the King's declaration of a state of emergency must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the lower house of the Parliament.

2001: Royal massacre[edit]

On June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra was officially reported to have shot and killed his father, King Birendra; his mother, Queen Aishwarya; his brother; his sister, his father's younger brother, Prince Dhirendra; and several aunts, before turning the gun on himself. Although he never regained consciousness before dying, Crown Prince Dipendra was nonetheless the king under the law of Nepalese royal succession. After his death two days later, the late King's surviving brother Gyanendra was proclaimed king. Although official statements declared Crown Prince Dipendra as the killer, later on King Gyanendra has also been suspected for the massacre.[citation needed] That was as said by some members of the family who were present during the massacre. Although they have said it was Crown Prince Dipendra, the reality lies behind as no further investigations were carried. The witnesses have claimed C.P. Dipendra to be the murderer but it was according to the Royal members. Other witnesses such as general workers were not investigated as they were not given the opportunity to claim what they had seen. Only the claims of Royal members have been issued in front of the public. According to one of the witnesses who wasn't investigated by government or required authorities, there were different people in the disguise of C.P. Dipendra. She was a maid of the Queen Mother of that time. Probably the people she saw were masked. She has claimed that she had been watching the whole incident, hiding, from one of the windows and her husband too was killed. She has claimed that she HAD seen many people who were the same as Dipendra.So, the Royal members also had been deceived which made them thought the Crown Prince was the murderer. She also has questions which the public have-how could Dipendra kill himself with a machine gun? If he would have killed himself, he needed to aim at himself with the gun probably in his foot and shoot himself with his toes. That was never possible because he wasn't bare footed. Why were the remains of the site where the massacre had taken place destroyed?

The Nepalese people have been left in the dark. They have never been given the precise truth about the events that enveloped the entire nation with sorrow. The reports are based on the sayings of witnesses but these witnesses' stories do not all tally. The witnesses we know to have been investigated are all members of the royal family. The stories told by other witnesses who were general workers have never been issued or entertained by the government. They remain untold. And the public is never provided with a precise evidence, no footage, just claims and sayings....

2005–2007: Suspension of parliament and Loktantra Andolan[edit]

On 1 February 2005 King Gyanendra suspended the Parliament, appointed a government led by himself, and enforced martial law. The King argued that civil politicians were unfit to handle the Maoist insurgency. Telephone lines were cut and several high-profile political leaders were detained. Other opposition leaders fled to India and regrouped there. A broad coalition called the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) was formed in opposition to the royal takeover, encompassing the seven parliamentary parties who held about 90% of the seats in the old, dissolved parliament.

The UN-OHCHR, in response to events in Nepal, set up a monitoring program in 2005 to assess and observe the human rights situation there[3]

On 22 November 2005, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) of parliamentary parties and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) agreed on a historic and unprecedented 12-point memorandum of understanding (MOU) for peace and democracy. Nepalese from various walks of life and the international community regarded the MOU as an appropriate political response to the crisis that was developing in Nepal. Against the backdrop of the historical sufferings of the Nepalese people and the enormous human cost of the last ten years of violent conflict, the MOU, which proposes a peaceful transition through an elected constituent assembly, created an acceptable formula for a united movement for democracy. As per the 12-point MOU, the SPA called for a protest movement, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) supported it. This led to a countrywide uprising called the Loktantra Andolan that started in April 2006. All political forces including civil society and professional organizations actively galvanized the people. This resulted in massive and spontaneous demonstrations and rallies held across Nepal against King Gyanendra's autocratic rule.

The people's participation was so broad, momentous and pervasive that the king feared being overthrown.[citation needed] On 21 April 2006, King Gyanendra declared that "power would be returned to the people". This had little effect on the people, who continued to occupy the streets of Kathmandu and other towns, openly defying the daytime curfew. Finally King Gyanendra announced the reinstatement the House of Representatives, thereby conceding one of the major demands of the SPA, at midnight on 24 April 2006. Following this action the coalition of political forces decided to call off the protests.

Twenty-one people died and thousands were injured during the 19 days of protests.[citation needed]

On 19 May 2006, the parliament assumed total legislative power and gave executive power to the Government of Nepal (previously known as His Majesty's Government). Names of many institutions (including the army) were stripped of the "royal" adjective and the Raj Parishad (a council of the King's advisers) was abolished, with his duties assigned to the Parliament itself. The activities of the King became subject to parliamentary scrutiny and the King's properties were subjected to taxation. Moreover, Nepal was declared a secular state abrogating the previous status of a Hindu Kingdom. However, most of the changes have, as yet, not been implemented. On 19 July 2006, the prime minister, G. P. Koirala, sent a letter to the United Nations announcing the intention of the Nepalese government to hold elections to a constituent assembly by April 2007.

December 2007 to May 2008: Abolition of the monarchy[edit]

On 23 December 2007, an agreement was made for the monarchy to be abolished and the country to become a federal republic with the Prime Minister becoming head of state.[4] Defying political pundits, who had predicted it to be trounced in the April 2008 elections, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) became the largest party amidst a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation from all sides.[5] A federal republic was established in May 2008, with only four members of the 601-seat Constituent Assembly voting against the change,[6] which ended 240 years of royal rule in Nepal. The government announced a public holiday for three days, (May 28—May 30), to celebrate the country becoming a federal republic.

Since 2008[edit]

Major parties such as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN UML) and the Nepali Congress agreed to write a constitution to replace the interim one within 2 years. However, uncooperative and "selfish" behavior of the political parties has been cited[by whom?] as the major cause behind the de-railing of the peace process.

The Maoists, as the largest party of the country, took power right after the elections and named Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) as the Prime Minister of the country. CPN UML also joined this government, but the Nepali Congress took the part of the main opposition party. People soon saw that the country's situation deteriorated and political turmoils were in store.[citation needed] Prachanda soon fell into a dispute with the then army chief Rookmangud Katwal and decided to sack him. But the President Ram Baran Yadav, as the supreme head of military power in the country, revoked this decision and gave the army chief additional time in office. An angry Prachanda and his party quit the government, majorly citing this reason and decided to operate as the main opposition to the government headed by CPN UML and its co-partner Nepali Congress afterwards. Madhav Kumar Nepal was named the Prime Minister.

The Maoists have been to this date[when?] demanding civilian supremacy over the army.

The Maoists have been forcing closures - commonly known as bandhs - in the country, and have also declared autonomous states for almost all the ethnic groups in Nepal - seen[by whom?] as a part of revenge against the action that foiled their decision to sack the army chief.

Political leaders continue to discuss plans to end this turmoil, but none of the talks have been successful. Rising inflation, economic downturn, poverty, insecurity and uncertainty are the major problems. Many analysts[which?] opine that freedom has brought anarchy to the country. Many[who?] doubt that the political parties will succeed in writing a constitution.

On May 2012 constitution assembly was dissolved and another election to select the constitution assembly members was declared by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.

Environmental policy[edit]

As a mountainous country with agriculture, hydropower and tourism all important for its economy, Nepal is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as rising temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns and incidents of drought. According to the Climate & Development Knowledge Network, this has prompted the government to introduce new initiatives and institutional reforms.[7]

Legislative branch[edit]

Pre-2006[edit]

From 1991 to 2002 the Parliament (Sansad) had two chambers. The House of Representatives (Pratinidhi Sabha) had 205 members elected for five-year term in single-seat constituencies. The National Council (Rashtriya Sabha) had 60 members, 35 members elected by the Pratinidhi Sabha, 15 representatives of Regional Development Areas and 10 members appointed by the king. Parliament was subsequently dissolved by the king in 2002 on the pretext that it was incapable of handling the Maoists rebels.

From Loktantra Andolan to the Constituent Assembly[edit]

After the victory of Loktantra Andolan in the spring of 2006, a unicameral interim legislature replaced the previous parliament. The new body consists both of members of the old parliament as well as nominated members. As of December 2007, the legislature had the following composition.[8]

Party Seats
Nepali Congress 133
Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) 84
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) 83
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party 9
Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi) 5
Janamorcha Nepal 4
Nepal Workers Peasants Party 4
Rashtriya Jana Morcha 3
United Left Front 2
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified) 2
Rashtriya Janashakti Party 1

The first elections after becoming a Republic: the Constituent Assembly[edit]

In May 2008 the first democratic elections made the Communist Party of Nepal the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, which will have a term of two years.

Party Seats
Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) 220
Nepali Congress 110
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) 103
Madeshi Jana Adhikar Forum Nepal 52
Tarai-Madhesh Loktantrik Party 20
Sadbhavana Party 9
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party 8
Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist) 8
Janamorcha Nepal 7
Communist Party of Nepal (United) 5
Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal 4
Rastriya Janamorcha 4
Nepal Workers Peasants Party 4
Rastriya Janshakti Party 3
Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch 2
Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi) 2
Rastriya Janamukti Party 2
Nepali Janata Dal 2
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified) 2
Dalit Janajati Party 1
Nepa Rastriya Party 1
Samajbadi Prajatantrik Janata Party, Nepal 1
Chure Bhawar Rastriya Ekta Party, Nepal 1
Nepal Loktantrik Samajbadi Dal 1
Nepal Parivar Dal 1
Independents 2
Not yet determined 26

Judicial branch[edit]

The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court (Sarbochha Adalat), appellate courts, and various Trial court|district courts. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was appointed by the monarch on recommendation of the Constitutional Council; the other judges were appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Judicial Council.

Nepal's judiciary is legally separate from the executive and legislative branches and has increasingly shown the will to be independent of political influence. The judiciary has the right of judicial review under the constitution.

International organization participation[edit]

AsDB, CCC,[disambiguation needed] Colombo Plan, ESCAP, FAO, Group of 77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, International Development Association, IFAD, International Finance Corporation, IFRCS, International Labour Organization, International Monetary Fund, International Maritime Organization, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, International Organization for Standardization (correspondent), ITU, MONUC, Non-Aligned Movement, OPCW, SAARC, United Nations, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNMOT, UNTAET, UPU, World Federation of Trade Unions, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Jonathan Devendra. 2013. Massacre at the Palace: The Doomed Royal Dynasty of Nepal. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6878-3. (Note that Gregson finds the official story of the royal killings plausible while many in Nepal do not.)

References[edit]

External links[edit]