Nepali Times
One step forward, two steps back

Within the first month of Baburam Bhattarai taking office last November, there was dramatic progress on peace and constitution. Hopes were raised that this time, politicians were committed to move ahead. Three months later, the process is stuck again. The blame game has reached a crescendo, and we are lost in a tangle of distrust and dispute between and within parties.

The peace process got a boost with the agreement on the numbers and modalities for integration and rehabilitation of Maoist fighters. A State Restructuring Commission was formed, and although packed with political appointees, it was a step forward. The Dispute Resolution Sub-committee, headed by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, rapidly removed most of the 200 contentious issues in the new constitution. It finally looked like this Constituent Assembly would be able to meet its final deadline by 28 May.

Now, the whole process has ground to a halt. The political parties all have to take a share of the blame for obstructing progress, for putting their personal and partisan interests above the national need for closure, and for the colossal opportunity cost of the prolonged transition on governance, the economy and delayed development.

But by far the greatest responsibility for the current deadlock goes to the Maoist party, and particularly its chairman. Dahal's inability and unwillingness to stand up to the hardliners within his party has made him go back on most of the progress cited above. In fact, it looks like he wants to have his cake and eat another one, too. The internal rift within the party has been a useful bargaining tool for Dahal in negotiations with the opposition, but he has now played this card once too often.

To understand what Dahal is after, one just has to look at where the process is stuck: on the disputed provision in the new constitution about form of governance. Dahal has made no secret of the fact that Nepal should have a directly-elected presidential system, and the first president should be none other than himself. When the NC and UML objected, Dahal derailed the entire process not just by stalling talks, but by going back on what had already been agreed to in the sub-committee he himself heads. This is a classic case of the one step forward and two steps back strategy that the Maoist party has practiced since 2006.

Neither the NC or UML should have any problems with a presidential system, there are plenty of examples where it has worked. The problem is that the directly-elected president provision in the constitution is being put forward to fulfil the personal ambition of one man, and not because of its suitability for the country.

As we have argued in this page before, there are equally compelling arguments for all three governance systems proposed. There are examples of executive presidential systems that have succeeded spectacularly, and just as many countries where they have failed miserably. The same goes for the parliamentary system. The real issue here is that the executive should be accountable, and should not have an opportunity to become a dictator. Democracy has been derailed once too often by demagogues who used the electoral process to gain power and remain there forever. By the time we find out whether or not Dear Leader Dahal is desirable, it will be too late.

Do we trust with a powerful executive president a party that hasn't yet publicly abjured violence, still believes in state capture through rebellion, wants to turn Nepal into a 'people's republic', wants mandatory military training for all citizens, and in government has treated the national treasury as its party war chest?

The person who desperately seeks the mantle of president has time and again shown through wildly contradictory statements that he can't be trusted, he has been caught on camera boasting about how he lied and misled the international community. Foreign governments are rightly wary of him, he has issued open threats to the media, he has shown himself to be manipulative and venal. And that's not just us saying it, disillusioned revolutionaries within his own party use even stronger words.

It has become de rigeur for pundits to tar all parties with the same brush, to spread the blame for the delayed peace and constitution process on all political parties equally. It's time to call a spade a spade and pinpoint the obstruction.
Chairman Dahal has a great opportunity to rebuild trust by delivering on past promises, publicly renouncing violent rebellion, and showing statesmanship. Dahal is both the problem and the solution.

Read also:
Reflecting on our past

Street drama, ANURAG ACHARYA
Youth groups shut down the country to protest a fuel price rise announced by their parent parties in government

Who says Nepal is divided?, VIJAY LAMA
The Tamang new year celebration on Tuesday proved Nepalis are more united than ever

1. jange

The person who desperately seeks the mantle of president has time and again shown through wildly contradictory statements that he can't be trusted, he has been caught on camera boasting about how he lied and misled the international community.

Only those who were willing to be deceived were deceived. You wanted to believe that the Maoists were peace loving revolutionaries who only wanted the best for Nepal.

Misled the international community? Do you really think that the international community is so stupid as to be taken in by the shenanigans of the Maoists?

2. jange

...publicly renouncing violent rebellion, and showing statesmanship.

Violence has served him well. He has even managed to get the  NT and the international community to  go along with him. Why should he reject it now?

As for statesmanship- NT wouldn't know what it was if it hit them in the face.

3. who cares
it is well known that maoist got to lead this govt by begging to their masters in delhi.

even though i dont believe that indians are professional, brilliant but there is a question in my mind?

could india have demanded any assurance from bhatterai and puspa in support for this govt. like- if this govt. is unable or maoist party do not conclude peace process in time bhatterai has to leave maoist or separate away from maoist. 

did puspa too make any promise?

maost really has the shortest memory among nepalese. a few months ago they were begging for support for the last time to form their govt. they acted like they will be doomed after this -which they may-

 but lately since they are comfortably in govt. they have forgotten what could happen to them after this, probably, last change miss out of their hand. 

i really thought peace process would be completed this time, there is still some time left, let's see.

if CA is dissolved, maoist will loose all the credit they could have govt., plus they will not be in a position to bargain. 

Let the CA die.

and NC should lead the govt. just before one month to the end of CA.

if we check the history, probably all the present developed nations had gone through brutal war. so we should not run away from potential finale. 

regarding 7pt peace deal: 6500 pla into army, the no is too high (only 2/3000 is suppose to be the no.since that is the no of rifle they have), i supported 6500 for the sake of peace, 

since maoist have broken the deal, if there is new negotiation, NC/UML should only go for 2/3000 pla into army. and not more than 200k for retirees. 

instead of opposing directly elected executive head, NC/UML should focus on conditions to check power, accountability... of executive head. 

they can copy and paste some points from this link:

" .. should not have an opportunity to become a dictator"- there is an answer to this problem. 

" demagogues who used the electoral process to gain power and remain there forever .." - above link also solve this problem.

"Chairman Dahal has a great opportunity to rebuild trust by delivering on past promises,"

this is not true, that ship sailed a long time ago. now he has to deliver his promises just to live. 

4. Ramesh Thapa
Dahal is just 1 man. There are 28 million other Nepalis. What about the need of these people. What about what they want. Nepalis are so cowardly. The Maoist party is a party of criminal, a party of thugs, a party of killers, its a party of gangsters, the Maoist will drag Nepal to the gutters. We have to fight fire with fire, an eye for an eye, a sword for a sword. If Dahal is the problem, standing in the way of 28 million Nepalis then ELIMINATE THE PROBLEM. If you not against Dahal, then you are with him. If you are against him, then wipe him out from the face of this earth.  We need jobs, a lot of jobs. We need investments to boost the economy, we need petrol, deisel, water, food, medicine and free education for those who cannot pay the tuition. And all Dahal and Dueba, Koirala and Nepal, Khanal and Gachaddhar care about is their own bellies. Its time to wipe out this rotting leaders of Nepal and replace them with sincere and patriotic Nepalis. We can do it, if we are NOT with Dahal and against him.  Are we. That is the question.

5. kamal kishor
Maoism is/was all about lying, cheating, not playing a fair game. It was never about people's empowerment. The whole politics was and is about terrorising opponents and grabbing power. There is not a single game they played fairly. It is pure and simple: grab the power and turn Nepal into Zimbabwe. For that Dahal has to be president. By giving concessions over some trifle matters, Dahal thought that NC and UML can be coerced into agreeing to their ploy.

However, NC and UML know the consequences of giving all power to the Maoists. If they want to be annihilated, they can agree to Dahal's demand. People are suffering, will suffer more under Dahal's presidency but will survive. Will NC and UML leaders survive????? No. They will be annihilated.

6. Deepak Acharya
Its time to disolve this do nothing, good for nothing CA. Any one who is in favor and participates in further extension of this filthy assembly is a traitor of Nepal and should be tried for treason. Where are the honest, brave and patriotic Nepalis. Have we all become gansters and murderers. Dahal is a pimp of India. Is there any doubt about this. If Nepalis want a better and secure future, then we must revolt against the Indians. Indians are 100 percent to balme, they are 100 percent responsible for Nepal's obstruction towards growth.  Indians are 100 percent to balme for the sufferings of Nepalis.  Indians need to taught a lesson, that they will always remember. Lets make the Indians an offer that they cannot refuse. This is the one and only way to improve the ground reality and change the game in Nepal. Let the Indians go to hell. One more thing, the Maoist leaders , all of them, they should be hanged for they are all traitors.     

7. Gopal Tuladhar
Nepali communist are goondas in disguise.  They have killed thousands of inncocent Nepalis. The Maoist led by Prachanda should all be rounded up and thrown in jails. Prachanda now lives in a posh house in a posh area of Kathmandu. How can this filthy man be a leader of the poor and downtrodden. Pranchanda - just remember what happened to Sheik Mujib in Dacca. You are heading down the same road. Your own people will kill you. Just wait and see.

8. Krishna Gwayali
There is a total disconnect between the politicos and the Nepali mass.  The leaders of political parties have sunk to the level of criminals, with assistance from the Police Forces and even the corrupted Generals of Nepali Army.  Another revolution is brewing in Nepal, make no mistake all you powers that be. When people are hungry and tired with no electricity, no water, no gasoline, no jobs, what do they have to look for every day when they wake up. The Nepali Congress and the UML is led by cowards and crooks ! The Maoist party is looting with impunity and no dares to do anything. What a shame. The Madeshi parties who are just pawns of India are also filled with uncouth individuals. The American and British diplomats in Nepal are despicable in their failure to prevent this daily rape of Nepal and Nepalis. The only people that can change this game are the Nepali people. They need to wake up and take control of their destiny. Nepalis need to take pages the playbooks of Arab Springs, Nepalis need to beware of Indians most of all. India is the biggest hurdle in the peace and prosperity of Nepal.        

9. SN

Rant and rail as much as you want. You yourself helped to bring Dahal and his party to power. You yourself looked the other way to their lies, violence, dangerous ideology and practices and hailed them as the Robin Hood of the poor. You made them look good in the public's eye. They may have manufatured false hopes and promises, but you helped peddle and distribute them.

When there were people trying to call 'a spade a spade' you turned up the Maoist rant on them - reactionary, regressive, royalist etc etc and helped to discourage and censor them.

Charity begins at home. Honesty begins with self. Acept responsibility for your own actions first.

A liar calling a liar is just another lie.

10. jhankri
I really don't understand why its always NT's fault, if you are stupid enough to listen to one paper blindly then its your fault.I think people are giving NT too much credit. Let him stand for elections for president and he will see what the people think of him. Lets just not Vote for him. 

NT should add some kind of voting/recommend feature to comments.

11. Anon
#6. Instead of hanging the Maoists, why not just re-export them back to India where they came from? Two birds with one stone!

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)