Nepali Times
Let’s do it

Wonders never cease in the kingdom of the absurd. Last year, the king fired an elected prime minister, saying in effect: "I'll do it my way." Since then, the leaders of the political parties who ruined the country with their greed and ineptitude, haven't given the people a convincing argument why the same venal and vision-challenged chieftains should be put back in the saddle. We see no signs that they have mended their ways: just look at how they are jostling again for advantage in the race to occupy choice berths in the next national government.

UML boss Madhab Nepal slipped out of his house in Nepalganj at three in the morning last month to cross the border to meet the Maoist troika. There was bitter irony in the ensuing confusion of his security detail-a political leader ditches his armed police bodyguards to head off for a secret meeting with the leaders of a group that they are supposed to guard him against! Nepal doesn't even tell his own party colleagues what he is up to, whereas just about everyone knows through media leaks that the meeting is in Hotel Kapur at Lucknow, located (we might add) in a country that has actually labelled the group 'terrorists'.

We give up trying to make sense of all this. Maybe British special envoy Sir Jeffrey James, back in town this week, will have better luck figuring things out. He probably delivered more unsolicited advice to the people who heed it least-the Royal Nepali Army, followed by rounds of meetings with political party bosses, waving carrots and sticks. He may even try to mend fences with the king. Sir Jeffrey seems to have his work cut out, but we wonder if he shouldn't have his office closer to his line of duty, New Delhi for instance?

What have we brought on ourselves that we have handed over the destiny and decision-making in this country to outsiders? Human rights violations have become so serious they have set off international alarm bells. The palace and parties are so stubborn that foreign envoys have to step in to get them to patch up. We have made this crisis so intractable that Nepal is now being spoken in the same breath as Sierra Leone or Rwanda, a new disaster zone needing an outside fix. It is pointless blaming outsiders when we have utterly failed to solve our problems. The Maoists started us on this downhill slide and the parliamentary party leadership exacerbated it by playing with the fire of rebellion to settle political scores. An impatient king decided to solve things by throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

It may seem like it is too late, but we can still seize the initiative. The correction must begin with a step-by-step reversal of the process that brought us here, by relearning how genuine democracy works. After all, if the Nepali people have a say, no outsider will be able to get a word in edgewise.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)