Looking back at Nepal a year back, the local council elections had been held in February 2006 immediately condemned as a sham exercise favoring machinations of monarchy. Not many were hopeful that the revolution which had subsumed over 13,000 lives would result in peace and order in the near term. Yet Nepal's historic return to parliamentary democracy was heralded on 28 June 2006. The process of disarming of Maoists is well under way and a new dawn awaits Katmandu today. The deliberate course of political restructuring in Nepal ensured that normalization was as smooth as it can come about under extra ordinary circumstances. There are many lessons from Nepal which can be applied to the myriad revolutions across the globe.
Essentially the approach was top down. The first step was to have a comprehensive peace agreement. This was to ensure adherence to common agreements made earlier between the Seven Party Political Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists such as the 12 point, 8 point and 25 point codes. The overall aim was to transform the cease fire between the Nepal government and the Maoists into a permanent truce.
A Five Point Agreement was reached on 9 August 2006 seeking assistance of the United Nations for management of arms and armed personnel, cease fire and elections to the Constituent Assembly. The Interim Constitution Drafting Committee (ICDC) submitted a draft constitution to the peace negotiating teams of the Government and the Maoists on 25 August. Consisting of 26 parts and 172 articles, the 76 page report was considered highly contentious as the King was granted ceremonial powers and the fate of the monarchy was to be decided by a referendum.
This was on expected lines as it was anticipated that once the euphoria over uprising in Nepal subsides, the Royalist would be able to gain some ground and ensure that monarchy was retained at least in a ceremonial form.
The commitments outlined in the various common agreements were reaffirmed and restoration of multi party democratic system was also assured through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the Prime Minister Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist Chairman Prachanda on 21 November 2006. This outlined the frame work for restoration of democracy, peace and progress.
The principal decisions related to formation of the interim legislative parliament as per the provisional constitution, with the King absolved of all rights of administration. The Maoists as well as the Nepal army were to return to barracks.
Seven main camps at Kailali, Surkhet, Rolpa, Nawalparasi, Chitwan, Sindhuli and Ilam along with three smaller camps were nominated. The arms and ammunition of the Maoists were to be stored in these camps to be monitored by the United Nations. This process is nearing completion. The Peace Committee of Nepal prepared a draft of the Agreement on Ceasefire and Human Rights and Abidance to Humanitarian laws which was signed between the Nepal government and the Maoists. The terms of cease fire included the end of armed rebellion and demobilization of the armed forces with prohibition of the following activities:
- Acts that would cause mental pressure or loss to any individual person
- Acts to place ambushes targeting each other
- Actions involving killing or violence
- Acts of abduction, arrest, imprisonment, disappearance
- Destruction of public, private, governmental or military properties
- Aerial attacks or bombarding
- Mining or sabotaging
- Acts of spying each other's military activities
In addition human rights were also guaranteed and a National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission was set up for dispute resolution. There were some hiccups in the process with the Maoists opposing unilateral nomination of ambassadors to various countries. The UN increasingly assumed a significant role in restoration of governance in Nepal with a three member UN team having extensive discussions with the Nepal government as well as the CPI (Maoists). Thus the initial resistance by the Maoists for UN supervision of the polls in the country was overcome.
The expectations of stability continue to be belied by recent political and militant happenings in the state over the past few months particularly an increasing Terai and Hill divide. But these appear to be temporary impediments to return to stability and smooth governance. The maturity and statesmanship demonstrated so far in resolution of a fractious dispute which has engaged the attention of the World for many years is admirable and could be replicated elsewhere albeit with local modifications.