Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Article 3

The constituent assembly demand is not part of the Maoist agenda. It may be a strategy, but it is not their agenda. The constituent assembly is in fact a demand that pro-democracy activists in Nepal have always put forward. The political parties are therefore wrong to portray this as a Maoist demand. We have to be perfectly clear about this. A constituent assembly is the most democratic form of statute-building there is, so why would the Maoists make it their bottom line? This is the crux of the matter.

The left in Nepal has always struggled for a constituent assembly and they have pushed for it non-violently. So this is not just a Maoist wish. It should be the goal of this nation and its people. The ideological underpinnings of a constituent assembly were laid long ago. Even though we finally had a compromise constitution in 1991, if we had implemented its provisions properly we would not be in this current crisis. Japan has an emperor and it has a constitution that was not crafted by a constituent assembly. Yet they do not have a crisis because the constitution is followed. More important than who made the constitution is how it is implemented.

A constituent assembly election is a way to make a good constitution, but it can't be hurried. If we want a new constitution right away, a constituent assembly election is not the way to go about it. There is no doubt that after October Fourth, the present constitution has been weakened. It has cast aspersions on the king's intentions. The moral of the story is that no matter how good a constitution we may have, future kings can scrap it with the military's help. If the army was not loyal to royal rule, many problems would have been solved. The army should answer to the constitution. Instead, it answers to the king. This is why the king could carry out a direct hit on the constitution. This is why the Maoists claim that this constitution is as good as dead.

The other reason there is discontentment about the present constitution is because we haven't carried out relevant amendments to it. The palace doesn't want the basic values enshrined in the preamble to the constitution discarded. What are these basic values: the institution of monarchy? Parliamentary system? Multi-party system? Obviously, the palace doesn't want these basic values changed even by the people's will.

The people are sovereign: that basic fact is in Article 3 and can't be changed. Unfortunately, the king wants to exercise more power, from appointing prime ministers to ambassadors. If Article 3 had been respected, there wouldn't be this call for a constituent assembly right now.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)