9-15 June 2017 #862

Deuba's roadmap

Bachu BK
OUR MAN: A victory rally with a portrait of Sher Bahadur Deuba in his younger days in his home district of Dadeldhura, where he has not lost a single election since 1992.

In his fourth tenure as Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba has a chance to end what started when he first was in that post 20 years ago.

The seven priorities that Deuba listed on Wednesday for his new government largely deal with a crisis that began in his first stint and worsened during the other two times he was prime minister: the conflict. He has to deal with its legacy.
If he succeeds, Nepal will enter a new era of stability and prosperity. If he fails, the rocky political transition will continue to impact on the economy.

Analysts are cautiously optimistic, but Deuba’s aides claim that he is now a man with a mission with a keen sense of how history will judge him. The signs are not encouraging: his choice of cabinet of cronies looks like old wine in an old bottle.

Here is Deuba’s checklist:

Deuba’s first order of business is to complete the process of reviving grassroots democracy by holding the second phase of local elections on 28 June. That will probably go without a hitch because the two Madhes-based parties voted for him and they will probably participate if cases against those arrested during the Madhes agitation are scrapped.

Holding provincial and parliamentary elections later this year will be more knotty. Madhesi parties will insist on a constitutional amendment beforehand. If Deuba fails, so will the Constitution and the country will be in a political void.

The mandate of the two transitional justice bodies will expire in nine months. Deuba must deliver justice to conflict victims, but he and his coalition partner Maoist Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also face charges of wartime atrocities. How he deals with this will determine the future of the peace process.

The government is meeting nearly half the post-earthquake reconstruction budget from its own coffers. This gives the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) more flexibility, and can expedite reconstruction. Deuba must show he could do more for survivors than his two predecessors.

Nepal achieved an economic growth rate of 7% this past year. Deuba’s coalition needs to sustain it by boosting infrastructure, inviting more FDI and preventing looming power cuts this winter.

Deuba is said to be keen to visit India next month after local elections. At a time when Nepal has just signed a framework agreement on China’s Belt and Road initiative, Deuba cannot afford to give less attention to Beijing.

Read also:

Deuba IV, Om Astha Rai

Deuba III, Kunda Dixit

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