Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
King’s restraint

Interview with Dr. Gopal Sharma, Reader at Nepal Law Campus.

Where does sovereignty lie in the context of the present constitution?
Sovereignty always lies with the people, whether it is mentioned explicitly in the document or not. The previous constitution did not say that sovereignty lay with the people, but people used their rights and made possible the 1990 People's Movement. The present constitution envisaged the people would practice their sovereignty once in five years for five minutes, but people demanded and practiced their rights every
three years.

But hasn't the king claimed his 4 October move was based on the royal prerogative assigned by the

Late King Birendra adopted this constitution using his royal prerogative, but the document says sovereignty lies with the people. It shows the links between the king and the people. In other words, the king is also a protector of the constitution and he needs to act when the people are being treated unfairly. The constitution begins and ends with the king. The political parties came in with a lot of promises but none gave us anything concrete. Sher Bahadur Deuba was given six-month's time to hold an election. Instead, he asked for electoral postponement for a whole year, which was totally against the constitution. That was a kind of tyranny on his part.

Theoretically and practically, sovereignty lies with the people, but they are uninterested in politics. They choose their representatives to practice sovereignty on their behalf, entrusting them with everyone's welfare, be it in a multiparty democracy or singleparty Panchayat system.

Nepal's monarchy is unique in the sense that there are people in villages who worship the king like a god. A few towns and Kathmandu alone cannot represent the sentiment of the entire nation. If we go for a referendum at this point, an overwhelming majority would vote for a tyrant monarchy.

Does that mean demands for a republican state do not hold ground?
Even if the demand for a republican state were to be fulfilled, it would not last for more than six months. The people would throw it away in that time even if they come to power.

Where will the present conflict between the monarch and the parties lead?
The present conflict is not created by the monarch, but rather by the parties. The law of the land allows a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for talking against the monarchy. I believe the king is practicing tremendous restraint. Even as the political parties push him to the edge, they are creating an environment for an active monarchy.

So, is the ongoing conflict between the monarch and the Maoists?
It is apparently a conflict between the monarch and the Maoists. But, instead of attempting a peaceful resolution, the political parties are fuelling the conflict. If they continue to challenge the king he will be forced to turn into a tyrant.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)