Politics on Peace and Constitution in Nepal

Nepal’s much awaited highlevel political mechanism (HPM) finally has constituted, but there is much confusion. It is viewed differently in the national and international arena. Some political pundits look at the mechanism as an important milestone while others see a strategic conspiracy. Major national and internationally stakeholders including the UN conditionally and carefully welcomed the new mechanism, with the hope and belief it will lead to positive outcomes.

Interestingly, the voices of favor and dissent in HPM began on the day of its establishment. Senior leaders from some parties are against the mechanism and see it as a serious conspiracy.

Many people say they do not understand this dramatic development of how the political parties and leaders came so easily to join together on this political mechanism without compromising and building consensus over the conflicting political agendas.

The important issue is that HPM is neither politically-democratically approved, nor is there a clear working strategy. So people are curious to know how such a mechanism will cope with the existing paradoxical scenario where the ruling and opposition parties are being confronted and endlessly conducting political marathons against each other. Frankly speaking, the ruling and opposition parties are not on the right track. All are focused on power-games rather than contributing towards the logical end of the peace process and building the constitution for New Nepal.

The parties and their leaders have forgotten their principal mandates, and they have deviated from the path they committed to. Specifically, peace building through successful implementation of a comprehensive peace accord (CPA) and restructuring the state through constitution building should be the principal goals of the national polity. However, both issues are in limbo and have become matters of lower priority.

I believe what is needed is a clear and visionary roadmap, using HPM, with really positive goals and objectives working towards the peace process and constitution building. Otherwise, it will be understood publicly as a continuation of a strategic conspiracy culture against the existing coalition government.

The mechanism should able to expose clearly how they will handle the issue of Maoist version of civil supremacy, madhesi and other ethnic version of inclusion and federalism, the confused and misguided version of PLA integration and many more contemporary issues that have become issues of mutual face-offs among the parties. In addition, HPM should describe the agreed structure of the cabinet and how they work to address the national agenda and priority.

These are really crucial questions for all Nepalese as well as concerned institutions and agencies, so it must be clarified beforehand to see the HPM as a part of positive effort and commitment for the peace process and constitution building.

Experts illustrate that peace process and constitution writing will not be successes until Nepal gets a multi party coalition government and common political consensus on the aforementioned issues. The peace process and constitution writing may be further paralyzed if even a single political actor is ignored or excluded from both the peace and constitution building processes. Therefore, all parties and political forces should be given equal importance and treated democratically in a rational manner.

In plain view, the peace process should reach almost a logical destination once the cantonment based former Maoist guerrillas are successfully managed in accordance with the letter and spirit of the CPA and Interim Constitution of Nepal (ICN).

The ruling party and opposition both are avoiding the major issues by using various crosscutting power-politics, and switching day by day the public commitments. In addition, in the name of democracy and politics, all of the Nepalese political parties are acting beyond political ethics. The general Public are irritated and fed up with Nepalese political culture, the smaller and bigger all parties believe that criminalized politics, militarized activities and roughshod impunity are the ways to oppose the government while they live in the opposition room.

Nowadays, no political parties look at legacy, legitimacy, rationality, relevancy and utility of their political activities, rather they have a blind desire to capturing the cabinet. In such context, how can Nepalese people expect positive value from HPM without experiencing the forthcoming impacts into practice? The people are in confusion. The HPM has created a huge illusion among the stakeholders of the Nepalese peace and constitution building process.

The international community, specially the UN believe that HPM is a product of continuous efforts of United Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and also the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon, but it is just a misconception. It is because the HPM was not constituted in accordance with the spirit of diplomatic efforts, peace accord and constitutional provision.

It is sad to say, in many ways, the UNMIN is a failed mission, not able to achieve its even minimum assigned tasks and responsibilities.

It has not done much except to have a nominal role in technical affairs of cantonment management, verification, political marketing and to pay just limited diplomatic courtesy. The UNMIN is observed as an ambiguous agency that raises the situation of confrontation among the major political parties.

One can ask why does the UNMIN still stand, given such failure and low performance? Experts say it is only to respect the UN resolution and to maintain the relationship with UN for future support and continuation of ongoing development process and post conflict affairs of Nepal.

The UNMIN is seen by opposition political parties in Nepal, as a pro-Maoist institution, however, this is not completely true, even though politicians blame it for being so. The UNMIN became unpopular due to weak diplomacy of its managers; most of them have been unable to even deliver proper diplomatic output and failed to maintain the minimum diplomatic code of conduct. Most of the UNMIN officials poorly manage their assigned roles and dutiess in the peace and conflict affairs of Nepal.

They are unable to manage effectively even the cantonment, verification process etc and to deliver diplomatic pressure on respective politicians to enforce CPA efficiently, duties assigned by UN resolutions.

The Politicians are polarized on UNMIM performance, some of the politicians have strong affection and some of them are alienated, so the public are under serous confusion to identify who is right and who is wrong. The reality is that UNMIN failed to maintain balanced relationsips and deliver impartiality, neutrality and diplomatic capabilities. That being the case, the HPM must unite and make necessary common consensus to deal with UNMIN. The HPM needs to exploit the positive features of UNMIN systematically, that could be helpful to facilitate the ongoing peace process to a logical end.

Nepal has a history of the sorriest experiences of constitutional instability, changing its constitution so often. The HPM must succeed, to include the needed characteristics in the new constitution to make it more sustainable, visionary, reliable, and people and nation centric.

The HPM must learn from the countries where the constitution functions well over decades, especially from the US, Canada, Australia, India, France, Switzerland. Those constitutions have nice characteristics, are well established and considered good constitutions by their people and the world.

Among these constitutions, we found some common similarities; holding enough public legitimacy, having greater public and political trust and respect, addressing the greater degree of domestic and international affairs. The constitutions are also successes in transforming diversity into pluralism, addressing the need and desire of excluded, marginalized and deprived groups and societies of the nation, delivering good governance, making rational redistribution and maintaining social justice.

The assurances of public rights and high level of liberties is a common feature among them; they also guarantee civil supremacy, good governance, constitutionalism and rule of law. However, the meaning, definition and understanding of the discussed characteristics may be differed in each country and context. In addition, the constitutions are capable enough to deal with the possible peace building, conflict management and to handle the contemporary issues of the respective nations.

The rational flexibility of the constitutions allow them to respond to unexpected matters and future affairs of the nation. These constitutions are considered very homely and nationalistic, and developed in accordance with the need and importance of the nation. They mention international dignity and cope with international diplomacy by leading their images in the international arena. Indeed, providing good national security and maintaining national unity and integration is also a principal strength of these constitutions.

One of the most essential strength of the constitutions is that states are efficiently and significantly providing all basic and common goods, services and opportunity to the people without disorder and discrimination. The scientific provisions of justified power sharing, constitutional provisions to respect the majorities and preservation of minorities on the basis of equality and equity are additional strengths.

The justified social inclusion and scientific representation provisions are major, to provide the opportunity for national mainstreaming. The constitutions have assured discrimination free society and necessary legal arrangements against any disqualification of people’s life and governance.

In short, these constitutions have capabilities to bring and maintain peace and harmony in the nation. The exemplified constitutions are well capable to manage conflicts in efficient ways; proved capable to keep their people and nation happy, healthy, and prosperous. The constitutions are capable of providing solutions of the majority of national sociopolitical issues.

The ruling and oppositions parties pay equal respect to the constitution. It does not a matter whether the countries are practicing capitalism, socialism, or a mix of governance or adopt unitary, federalism, confederation or any other type of government or governance. The illustrated constitutions provide different types of approaches for governances or government, but all are considered successful to a greater extent because they have been delivering and bearing those characteristics lucratively in a systematic and scientific manner.

Generally, every constitution should be capable of keeping their nation and people more happy, healthy and prosperous, which are considered major characteristics of a sustainable constitution. Therefore, the HPM must be careful and capable to include those essential characteristics in the upcoming constitution of Nepal, if they are committed to making the new constitution sustainable and successful, otherwise unpredictable forces will go in revolt and start fighting for new constitution as happened in the past.

In this regard, the HPM has many challenges and opportunities ahead with huge possibilities of successes, if they act honestly, jointly and continuously in accordance with the people’s mandate and spirit of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, by keeping the national interest and people’s wishes at teh forefront as a guiding principle of their duties and responsibilities. It seems the principal conditions for HPM are to unite all active parties and politicians to get common political consensus from inside and outside of the power-gameboard to deal with the issue of the peace and constitution building process.

They must achieve national consensus and an all parties coalition government to ensure the logical end of CPA and to achieve the successful and sustainable constitution in due time. The HPM must concentrate on common national agenda and priority rather than focusing on changing the particular parties or leader from the Government.

So I wish Good Luck to the HPM!