Nepali Times
Destination of the nation

Who is guilty for the Constituent Assembly election not taking place?
(Seven party alliance means six parties plus the Maoists)

A decade of war had already sapped the nation's energy when king Gyanendra grabbed absolute power in a military coup on 1 February 2005. The year that followed was even more disastrous. The military budget shot up, trade and investment declined, foreign aid dried up, and the economy stagnated.

The April 2006 uprising was all about democracy, but essentially the people wanted development. And for that they knew they needed democracy and peace first. They understood that an absolute monarchy and Maoist extremism were obstacles to development.

Now, three years later, Nepalis are having doubts about the political parties ever getting their act together. It's all well and good to say that a messy democracy is the least of all evils, but when it utterly fails in governance it squanders the people's trust. That is happening now with the collapse of the state's mechanism for delivery of basic supplies and services. Nepalis are giving up hope that their lives will get better in their lifetime.

Soon it will be two years since the restoration of democracy. Politically, the Maoist leadership has found it more difficult than foreseen to convince its YCL storm troopers about the mainstream path. The other parties can't seem to rise above petty name-calling and mudslinging.

The YCL extortion and intimidation and the perception of instability has driven away investors and frightened everybody else. This is almost as bad as the war years. Oil subsidies, bankrolling of cantonments, paying for elections has taken away a chunk of resources and the treasury is empty.

The international community has been over-generous with advice, but hasn't put its money where its mouth is. Where are the funds promised for security sector reform, resettlement of internally displaced or rehabilitation of conflict afflicted population?

The government, led by the Finance Ministry, has been holding hearings prior to a donor consultation meeting scheduled for 21-22 February. It has proposals to raise resources for infrastructure development, health and education. But perhaps the most crucial challenge at the moment is to find funds for ambitious post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building.

The election for a constituent assembly is necessary, but not enough to ensure long-term stability. Development can't wait for the resolution of the Madhes crisis, in fact it is a pre-requisite to peace in the tarai and hills. The perception that there is a government that is looking after the welfare of the people is an important component of the conflict resolution process: that should be the nation's destination.

The government's job is to govern efficiently and with accountability. The main protagonists of peace are the Nepali people.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)