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ANALYSIS by DEWAN RAI


KIRAN PANDAY
Madhav Kumar Nepal may have been chosen prime minister in the house last week, but he is on morally shaky ground because he was not elected. This puts him at an immediate disadvantage to deal with the urgent tasks of constitution-writing, peace-building and development delivery.

What is going for him is that no one really sees Nepal as a threat, and this can be an advantage. Nepal also has rapport with all political forces and can be a bridge-builder. But is he an action man? He doesn't have much time to prove himself and get to work on his long to-do list.

In his inaugural address to the nation, Nepal laid out his priorities: peace process, constitution and development. But his speech also exposed him as a status quoist because of his pronouncements on the army, exposing him to attacks by the Maoists who already see him as a spoiler.

And that is just the external threat. Internally, he will have to expend a lot of energy just to keep his flock of 22 parties flying in the same direction. They are already divided within and amongst themselves, not over lofty idealism but over the portfolios to be used to replenish their war chests.

There will certainly be discontents (and there already are) which will be easy pickings for the Maoists eager to bring down the Nepal coalition at a time of their chosing. Blaming MKN over his open support for the army chief could provide the perfect ruse.

Although the Maoists have expressed commitment to the peace process, their history shows that they don't often mean by what they say. Nepal went through the motions of inviting them to join the government, but he knows they know it is not likely.

The most immediate hurdle in the peace process is to get the PLA integration wrapped up before UNMIN's departure in July. But integration has now become even more controversial over Pushpa Kamal Dahal's unguarded comments about inflated numbers in the Shaktikhor tape.

Aside from the development deadend, the nation is facing a crippling grain crisis because of drought and supply mismanagement. Hoarding and cartelling have sent inflation soaring.

The only bright spot in all this is that the constitution drafting committees are hard at work, drafting clauses of the new constitution. The CA secretariat is confident the draft will be finished on schedule. However for that to happen, the ethnic and regional parties must suspend their grandstanding on federalism. But they have worked themselves into such a frenzy, that the agitation is bound to spill out into the streets in the coming months. Unless Nepal can take the bull by the horns.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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