Nepali Times
Ups and downs in Nepal

On the Great Himalayan Trail, the team led by 21-time Everest summiteer Apa Sherpa, which is walking four months across Nepal, found an unlikely companion when it reached Tumlingtar: German ambassador to Nepal, Verena Gršfin von Roedern.

With four high passes over 3,000m, this segment of the 1,700km trail traversed Bhojpur, Sankhuwsabha and Solukhumbu disricts. An avid hiker, Roedern wanted to support the cause the trek aimed to highlight: promote ecotourism and bring attention to climate change in the high Himalayas.

But walking the three week up-and-down stretch from Tumlingtar to Lukla also gave von Roedern the time to reflect on the ups and downs of Nepali politics in the four years of her tenure as the ambassador. She came when Nepal had just become the world's youngest republic in 2008, and the former armed rebels had just joined mainstream politics. Four years and five extensions later, we are still waiting for the constitution to take shape and the peace process to conclude.

"It is easy to get disappointed looking at things as they are," von Roedern told Nepali Times, "but Nepal has transitioned far better than most post-conflict countries. Perhaps we should not be so impatient." This is refreshing coming from the dean of the Kathmandu diplomatic corps, which is sometimes better known for its cynicism about the deadlocked politics, corruption and poor governance.

It is her optimism about Nepal that sets the level-headed von Roedern apart, and patience is what the ambassador herself needed when at the end of her trek she was stuck for three days in Lukla due to bad weather.

But von Roedern also says she has been in Nepal long enough not to expect miracles overnight. "The good thing is, unlike what an outsider assumes from reading papers," she adds, "Nepali politicians are not always at each other's throats, but interact among themselves and are open to solutions."

Despite the history of bilateral cooperation going back 54 years, and the substantial aid that Germany gives to Nepal each year, the European economic powerhouse has maintained a low profile, keeping its interests firmly on the country's economic development and not so much on domestic politics. And von Roedern seems determined to keep it that way.

During her three week trek across eastern Nepal she was more convinced than ever about the great potential that is just waiting to be unleashed in hydropower, medicinal herbs and tourism. So what is holding things back in her opinion? "There will not be any real economic progress in Nepal until there is closure on the peace process with integration and rehabilitation of Maoist fighters."

The last time she met prime minister Baburam Bhattarai, von Roedern joked that she wanted not flowers but a new Nepali constitution for her birthday on 28 May.

"There is a great opportunity for Nepali politicians to make a historical breakthrough," says the ambassador, "investors also want stability, and I really hope Nepali leaders rise to the occasion."

Rubeena Mahato

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1. Vija

"There will not be any real economic progress in Nepal until there is closure on the peace process with integration and rehabilitation of Maoist fighters.

We must understand first of all why the importance is given to maoist fighter integration and why maoist fighter integration was a main acceptable point for maoist fighters to come to communication table with the rest of the parties.

It is actually,pretty simple.Control,back up plan,for whoever will be elected as the President with executive rights.Remember,this proposal has come from maoist chairman Dahal and this is where he intends to bend and as long as he can do that,the constitution will not be written as it would need to include this political statement and the form of governing the country in the constitution,however the only acceptable form of governing for people is only Parlamentary system,where people of the country can have the voice,as President in Nepal can become anyone as rights to it we all have,however ,it must be not the presidents last word on the actions taken by the country but peoples.Maoists ,or better say Bhattarai and Dahal want to shut two rabbits with one shut and the same idea is playing behind the scenes of whoever are sponsoring these two individuals as they are doing only the job asked from them,as no position comes free of cost,however we need to analize all the possibilities emerging today in the country.One of them is ,who does want to be and  can be the President and why. Why the PLAsoldiers are integrated in Nepal army,who wants and why PLA soldiers should have higher posts in the army and why,it certainly is Dahal and it is his main priority at the moment as the next step would be what kind of governance to write in the constitution,however if people want to have the voice and want to participate,President with the executive power is not acceptable for people of Nepal,as we know,what happens to individuals having gained power,chairs,Bhattarai and Dahal are the examples of how corrupt or how far fetched plans are being played in Asia and particulary in Nepal by politicians who use slogans and create havoc among the people.The question is,who can be  PM or a President of the country.Why don't we see ex king involved and participating in the important decision making process.He is a citizen,it is his responsibility and duty to share his knowledge,it is his responsibility as the successful biznessman to come forward .By taking away his honours of the King,we must not dismiss him as unworthy participant for the society.It is in the basic stupid and if Bhattarai and Dahal and other parties consider themselves as contemporay players in this integrated and modern world society ,we would be glad ,he ,the ex king participated.And here I am not praying for his return as a king,I am just logically considering ,how much he as a citizen could do for the country,he has proved with his life achivements,he is a person who is capabable of being a leader.Statements by Bhattarai that ex king is creating a conspiracy is just a way of Bhattarai and Dahal to wash his hands clean after the term of constitution writing will have ended by 28 of May.However,remember,it is Dahal and Bhattarai and his maoist ideology we must fear ,that is being at stake here as this is the only purpose of Dahal's integration plan and it is the only purpose of fighting over the forms of governance.the only reasons ,therefore we must ask ourselves,do we want maoist ideology writen in the consitution or we want democracy ,with rights of people through Parlament to be heard and decisions made by all of us.Ex king should join open politics and participate,lets end this constant rumors and conspiracy Dahal and Bhattarai.It is obvious to everyone.Do  we want another whip over our heads,a President,or do we want to have a system where every ctizen is  allowed to take part in decision making,however ,responsibility must be on Ministers as they are the ones to oversee what is going on in every field they are in,active participants,not just bodies sitting on ministerial chairs.Seems the ambassador is keeping the eye on the main track,economy of this country,not the games of politicians and that is only her right thing to do,however the article suggests that integration will be the reasonable step forward ,but it is just statement without thinking what is the purpose of this integration,why,who is to be seen .

2. maiya
This is quite a refreshing piece. I absolutely agree with her that we need a  patience for a nation building is a long process... but not sure how long people can hold their tolerance to delayed constituition process. i think the message is for people not politicans who better hurry up ..Those people should be shamed and see that foreigners are actually able to see our potentials. Forget the hike.. they wont leave their white plate cars just to go few blocks away.. 

3. KiranL
Thank you ambassador von Roed for your heartfelt words, which are in sharpt contrast to the other donors and INGOs in Nepal who have this condescending and patronizing attitude towards Nepal. And I wish our own leaders cared as much for our country than a foreigner ambassador.  

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)