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How successful?

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Prerana Marasini in New York

babu ramFor the second time a Maoist Prime Minister from Nepal visited the United States, a country that still places the party on the watch-list under the title Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. Concluding his visit, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai called the trip successful. But was it?

Bhattarai seems to have needed the visit to bolster his image and legitimacy in the international arena, and left despite the earthquake hit eastern Nepal,

Apart from the address to the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai was a favourite for many including non-Maoists at his talk on Marxism at The New School. During the visit he also listened to the issues of the Nepali diasporas, where he was greeted by few black flags. Bhattarai also meet his teachers after 30 years.

At the General Assembly, Bhattarai said he brought “the voice of the voiceless of the world”. If by voiceless he was referring to the citizens of Nepal, the United Nations has very well heard the voice of the Nepali people. The UN had supported the Nepali people in getting their leaders come to an agreement to end an era of war and autocracy and create history: especially by writing a new legal document and addressing the issues brought forward by the 10-year war.

When then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal addressed at the UN three years ago, he assured the representatives of the world that he would do justice to the people’s votes. Dahal had said: “People have overwhelmingly voted for my party and made us the single largest political party in the Assembly with great hope and expectations.” Eight months later, he resigned from the government but the people on whom he swore did not see any significant change. What they mostly saw was controversies involving Pashupati Nath temple’s priests, PLA’s number, and later Nepal Army.The governments formed subsequently didn’t do much either except for extending CA deadlines.


Perhaps that’s why Bhattarai chose not to give false hopes to the international community. Instead he voiced the need for a “comprehensible package” and a “new Marshall plan” to post-conflict countries such as Nepal. Lip-service, he warned, is not enough.

Three years since the first Maoist’s address and two years beyond the intended timeline of the interim constitution, the peace process and a new constitution still remain to be completed. But why hasn’t this constitution been written? Professor Andrew Arato at the New School University, who is also a constitutional expert, says, ” Nepal is caught up in a situation in which government and constitution-making process are too mixed up with each other and in a way they are incapacitated or weakened”.

He points out at the loopholes in the interim constitution that has allowed the governments to keep on extending the deadlines in such a manner that “the punishment’s going to be very grave” and that it could lead to “the rejection of all parties eventually”.

But does it make it easier for the Maoists to complete the peace process, as claimed by the Maoist leaders, when they’re leading the government? Prof Arato says it could’ve helped well if it was a national government but the present one could help only the former Maoist combatants to have faith in their party for their integration and rehabilitation.

Now back home, Bhattarai’s focus has be in drafting the constitution. If the peace process is completed during his tenure, then a proud Nepali prime minister will address the UNGA next year. Only then can we talk of  ‘setting example and drawing lessons from the Nepali experience’.

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