Time for a little reality after the major Western media outlets like Bloomberg and the Washington Post trumpet the Maoists giving up arms and joining the parliament. What a sad joke this is. The lazy Western media has never once waivered from their "we don't care what happens in Nepal, as long as they call it democracy" stance. Blogdai is sick of it. So, I've reprinted a very fine analysis of Nepal's interim constitution from one of the managing editors of "The Spotlight," Keshab Poudel. Look for blogdai's blue comments in places where I just can't keep my mouth shut. -=BD
Dictatorship of Eight Parties?
The interim constitution is definite to pave the way for the dictatorship of eight parties denying the basic rights of citizens to share power
By Keshab Poudel
Despite the glaring lacunae in the draft of interim constitution, the leaders of eight political parties have agreed to promulgate it on January 15 undermining the concerns expressed by lawyers, judges and other members of civil society and ethnic groups.
A summit meeting of top leaders of eight political parties on January 8, 2007 at prime minister’s residence in Baluwatar unanimously fixed the date for announcement of new constitution.
According to the agreement, the draft will be presented in the House of Representatives on January 15 and it will be promulgated after brief discussion. The same day interim parliament will be formed and it will endorse the interim constitution. (right, no consultations, no checks and balances; how autocratic King Girija)
“After the promulgation of this interim constitution, I as a citizen of this country cannot be a member of parliament, if I don’t belong to the SPA+Maoists alliance party. As I cannot be the member of parliament, I cannot be in government too. They have gracefully provided me an opportunity to cast my vote for the elections of the members of Constituent Assembly,” said a political analyst. (which will never happen, and if it does it will be kept separate and away from the reins of power--an ineffective and token body)
Seven parties plus Maoist have changed the popular word democracy to Loktantra and by that they say they are going to build a new Nepal . As morning shows the day, on the auspices of eight party alliance, one can easily guess how the elections for the Constituent Assembly would be held and what would be the results coming out of it.
There are many objectionable things in it. Most unprincipled and unwise article is related to the eligibility of a citizen to share power. A person who does not belong to any of the eight parties will have no right to be the member of parliament as well as in the government.
“Most objectionable part in the present draft is that people have been deprived to be the members of parliament as well as to be in the government if they don’t belong to any of the eight party alliance constituents,” said the analyst. “The previous constitution of 1990 had made the common people sovereign with power as well as dignity too. The present draft has created two categories of citizens - one who belong to eight parties alliance are to make laws to govern and rest of the population are supposed to put them into power by casting their votes and abiding by their laws and pay taxes.”
Former prime minister Surya Bahadur Thapa, who was popularly elected for several times in parliament, now will not have a seat in the parliament in case eight parties find his role is ‘against Loktantric Andolan.’ “Compared to that, the present constitution of 1990 gives opportunity to every Nepali to be the member of parliament as well as run the government without any discretion of the political faith and alliance,” said the analyst. (sounds a bit like old Soviet Russia. Thanks Prachanda! It's clear Girija has sold the Nepali soul to the communist ideal)
Similarly, Pashupati Sumsher Rana’s RPP, too, will have similar fate though they have nationwide party organizations and had opposed the Royal take over. Thapa and Rana will have to prove their faith and commitment in front of eight party leaders who under the constitution can decide qualification and disqualification of their membership. On the ground of holding different views, several other such members who had not committed any crime or offence would also be denied entry to the new parliament. (so much for opposing views as a counterbalance to runaway power. No checks and balances here. Facism anyone?)
“In this new version of democracy and in the map of new Nepal , persons will be deprived from their due positions mainly because of their views and not due to any omission or commission,” said the analyst. “At par with the one idea state, a blue print has been laid down which would prevail over the future shape of constitution after the restricted and guided process of Constituent Assembly.”
According to analysts, in this new Nepal, leader of one-man party Narayan Man Bijujkchhe Rohit, who has always been criticizing his alliance parties alleging that they are being instrumental to diminish Nepal’s position to Sikkim and Bhutan, will be in power. But not the party with national presence like Surya Bahadur Thapa’s Jansakti and Pashupati Sumsher Rana’s RPP.
Eight Parties’ Monopoly
The article 38 of the interim statute states that prime minister will be chosen under the political understanding of eight political parties. The article explicitly says eight parties will include Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Nepali Congress (Democratic), United People’s Front, Nepal Sadvabana Party (Anandidevi), Nepal Workers and Peasant Party, United Left Front and CPN-Maoist. (meet Nepal's new Politbureau)
Monopolizing power further, the article 45 says there will be 330 members in the interim parliament including 209 members of previous parliament, 73 nominated by Nepal Communist Party - Maoists and 48 other nominated under various bases. (They've created an insurmountable majority. You can't challenge it unless you are in one of the parties and all the party members are in the majority. This is a clear and classic rubber-stamp puppet autocracy. A complete sham)
Under the article 45 (2), leaders of eight parties can bar any member by terming them to have been affiliated with the group of anti People’s Movement. These clauses restrict other political parties’ to take part in the political process.
Under the party registration, the eight parties secured privileges putting certain conditions including the requirement of 10,000 signatures of voters to register new political parties. Finally, they have to express their faith in the letter and spirit of the constitution, which is again defined by eight parties.
In the eight party alliance, majority of them have no stake of their ideology because they don’t hold a faith in multiparty plural democracy but how the two splinters of Nepali Congress as democratic parties are going to explain to the people as well as build up their image in the history by surrendering to a totalitarian model of governance remains to be seen.
Anger Over Judges
Even before the agreement of the leaders of eight parties, on January 7, Supreme Court judged had made certain unanimous suggestions demanding to make the judiciary more independent. However, demanding the independence of judiciary seems to be a crime in the eyes of eight party alliance.
Though the suggestion for independent judiciary is not for the judges and courts, it is for the protection of rights of citizens, but parties condemned this professional move as a political ploy.
“Judges cannot make decision on the issue of amendment of constitution. Their decision is politically motivated,” said CPN-UML leader Jhalnath Khanal, who even disclosed a week ago that many clauses were added in the draft without their consent. In recent reactions, political parties are looking at the interim constitution as a political document.
“The constitution is not only a political document or peace agreement of eight political parties but it is a principle law of the land of 25 million Nepali people,” said advocate Kumar Regmi.
The judges have not only expressed their disagreement over the draft, they have also proposed practical and reasonable alternatives. For instance, they have proposed that judges should be appointed by judicial council till the position of head of the state is clear, the oath of office should be administered by that constitutional body instead of the prime minister and executive head, the judicial council should have more members from the judges and so on.
“There must be check and balance among executive, judiciary and legislature organs of the state. Democracy cannot function properly if one of these organs is made more powerful. We have to follow this. I think prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala has rightly objected against concentrating power on prime minister,” said Nepali Congress leader Govinda Raj Joshi. (It was lip service from ol' Babu. He never intended to change a thing. How hard did he fight for these "checks and balances?" I rest my case. )
Against the Dissenting Opinion
The remarks and reactions of communist and liberal democratic leaders are clear as they are against citizen’s right to dissent - opening a new way for absolutism of eight parties in Nepal .
“Judges are not made to write the constitution and they are not the persons who can say what kind of constitutional system the country requires. It is for the politicians to decide,” said Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula. “The constitution will promulgate as per wishes of eight parties not as per wishes of judges,” thundered Sitaula who even overrode prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s views on certain reservations on constitution. (Scary. Saying that only the corrupt and inept politicians are qualified to write a supposedly democratic document like a constitution, spell disaster for Nepal. India couldn't be happier.)
After observing reactions from various quarters, judges of Supreme Court have been forced to speak their conscience regarding the independence of judiciary and higher values of constitutionalism after serious deliberations among them. “At a time when the leaders of government have been threatening and issuing warnings to all including the judges for their safety of tenure, the judges of supreme court have risked their jobs and security to uphold the ideals which Nepal ’s judiciary has been building up brick by brick since the great change of 1951,” said the political analyst.
When reactions of members of liberal democratic parties like home minister Sitauala is such, one does not have to say anything about the opinion of followers of dictatorship of proletariat like CPN-Maoist and CPN-UML leaders.
“Judiciary still has the hangover of feudalist Ranas. Our demand of reappointment of judges has been justified following the decision of Supreme Court,” said CPN-Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai commenting on the decision of Supreme Court. “Such judges must be removed who oppose the document prepared by eight parties.” (A fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the judiciary from a complete moron. Judiciaries interperet constitutionality. They enforce adherence to the established constitution and protect citizens from wayward autocratic politicians re-writing or ignoring constitutional provisions.)
Other lawyers argue that the independent judiciary is prerequisite for democracy. “Independent judiciary is one of the pre-requisites of any democratic system of the world. We want to see independent and competent judiciary not a committed judiciary,” said advocate Kumar Regmi. “Judges have not demanded that they want increase of salary or their individual facilities but they want to incorporate the fundamental of the independent judiciary in the interim constitution.”
“An Orwellian description has appropriately been adopted here declaring all are equals but some are more than equals. Ruling class of eight party alliance has emerged under a leadership of octogenarian democrat Girija Prasad Koirala who had ignored all values and ideals popularized by his own august brother, B.P. Koirala,” said a political analyst.
Although Nepali Congress is claming as a party of B.P. Koirala, they have sacrificed all his ideals for personal gains. “B.P. Koirala is a brand name for the respectable image in the people. But his ideas are difficult to be followed with the same idealism and integrity. Since the demise of B.P. Koirala, all the time Nepali Congress leaders are assuming their followers and common people that they fully adhere to his ideas but people fail to see that in practice,” said the analyst. “The present alliance of Nepali Congress was unholy and therefore unethical. It is a great tragedy of a great legacy that they are going to declare a constitution which creates two categories of citizens one who can be in power due to their political alliances and another who cannot be.”