Monday, January 15, 2007

"Interim" Anarchy

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.

Objectionable Parts

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.”

Orwellian Description

“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.”

11 Comments:

At 12:52 AM, January 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai,

I think you should heed to the same advice that you are giving to the lazy Western Media although some of things you are saying make sense. As far as I know Pashupati Shumsher and his party and Surya Bahadur Thapa and his party are not losing their seats in the interim parliament.

They will be opposition in the parliament (though a small one). So it may be a good idea for you to do some due diligence or cross check before you quote some unknown political analyst. Just because he/she agrees with you, does not mean that he or she is right.

Also, another issue I have with you is when the King did the coup and scrapped the parliament, you had no gripe about not having an opposition. When the King randomly created RCCC (where the prosecutor and judge were the same), you had no gripe about independence of judiciary. However, when the political parties at least have a parliament and a better judiciary (not the perfect one), you have so much complain. So where is your unbiased political view as you claim?

Although this is not a perfect system, it is still a way forward. Also, please remember it is a temporary arrangement. That is why it is called interim i.e. interim constitution and interim parliament. We are going to have a constituent assembly election and then we will have an elected assembly which will write the constitution (for the first time in Nepal). I believe it is too risky for Nepal to go straight for election without a parliament. When we have a parliament (even if it is not the perfect), there is a channel to send the opposition views to the Govt. I have seen even NC, UML, and RPP members of parliament doing this in the past few months.

BTW, the last constitution of Nepal was not written by an elected body either. It was written by the hand picked group by the King and the political parties. So did it represent me or you or the political analyst in the last constitution? Maybe you and the political analyst were represented by answer is "No" for me. The political analyst did not have a problem with it. At least an elected body is going to write the constitution assembly this time.

So please stop quoting this misleading article and going crazy with it.

Again this not perfect, but at least the Maoist weapons are being locked down. The violence has subsided a lot since the King's rule even though some Maoist atrocities are still going on. After 10 years of war, you cannot build a democracy like the US overnight. There is a lot to learn, and there are a lot of compromises to be made to coexist peacefully.

Peace

ZZZ

 
At 12:58 AM, January 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blog Dai- i had told this day will come and us to be prepared but its passing us by and we are just passing comments. Rise up and take arm- no more bullshits. Lets unite to destroy SPAM

 
At 1:03 AM, January 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am there to fight the SPAM terrorists and Indian hegemonies.

 
At 10:15 AM, January 16, 2007, Anonymous pakhe said...

zzz, well said. till yesterday, he was happy to see all the opposition (of gyanendra) off but now all of sudden he dispenses his crocodile tears for democracy and rule of law. maybe for him only his type are 'demo's and the rest demons/devils.

 
At 1:55 PM, January 16, 2007, Blogger blogdai said...

pahke please make some sense and try again.

zzz, good stuff. Good enough to trigger a blogdai rebuttal.

A good analysis raises valid, plausible questions and debate. No one here or there claims any form of enlightened correctness. Remember, "analysis" can be rightly interpereted to mean "one person's educated opinion."

RCCC was created out of the ashes of the, initially very good, CIAA. The latter eventually lost its objectivity when it was threatened by Girija after it went after Girija, remember? RCCC was designed, rightly as an investigative body that was independent of the judiciary. This prevents the tarnishing of the judiciary by keeping such investigations away from their direct scrutiny. And what other judiciary are you claiming that I complain about? My only complaint is that this judiciary--any judiciary-- will now no longer have the power to balance Girija's autocratic decisions. what a fundamental mis-read; are you up to this?

Now, ask yourself why you think we need a new "interim" or whatever constitution? The old one, inspired by B.P. Koirala himself worked just fine. The new one takes away any royal balancing voice, gives the PM absolute power, and only allows party members to have a say in governance. If you consider this a democratic "way forward" then I'd prefer the reverse, thank you.

Since these crooks we have now were not elected to their current position--in fact we've not had a democratic election in nepal since democracy supposedly took hold, some 8 years now--I don't know how you would find some progress in letting this small group of selfish men tell us what should be what in the constitution. At least before, we had this same small group of men and a balancing royal opinion to help write a constitution. Now, wouldn't that wider spectrum of ideas seem to be more representative and inclusive of all nepalis? Or would your "way forward" be defined by the narrow selfish interest of Girija and his minions giving their exclusive and intolerant voice to Nepal's political landscape?

Try not to compare apples with oranges here either. G's coup was a unilateral move designed to shake loose some objectivity and democratic practice from a very inept and autocratic congress. There was never any pretense for democracy in those Deuba days. G. gave Deuba plenty of time to hold elections and he refused. Guess what? they still won't hold them. And where was the oppositional voice to your little April Jana Andolan? Where was the voice of the nepali people at all? Dissent at any level was quickly silenced through Maoist intimidation. Did you forget? All G. had to do was pull the trigger and you would have had your dissenting voice.

There is less violence because the RNA is no longer chasing Maoists in the field. Maoist atrocities are in fact increasing. Plus, is it a positive thing to have Maoists ignore all peace agreements and set up their own parallel government, complete with police actions, in Nepal?

And one last thing you tactical neophyte, weapons, locked down or not, are still intimidating. If this little CA election ever gets off the ground (which it won't), what do you suppose will happen to villagers in Maoist controlled areas who, through a fair election, fail to elect a Maoist candidate from their districe to the CA? Hmm. Think the Maoists will just forgive and forget once they get their weapons back? It also must be quite reassuring to villagers when they hear that the key to the "lock-down" of many of the arms cachments will be in the hands of: guess who? THe Maoists!

I agree with you fully that a democracy cannot be built overnight. But in order to build anything, you have to have a foundation. Do you know what the foundations of a democracy consist of? I think not. I'll give you a hint: They are just about everything that Girija has taken away in his new tenure and "interim constitution." Impartial and independent judiciary, rule of law, free, frequent and fair elections, protection of the minority opinion, the right to dissent, transparency... Shall I go on or will you just say it's the King's fault?

-=blogdai

 
At 2:09 PM, January 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ow! Mister Blog Dai still has a bite! Welcome back.

 
At 4:02 PM, January 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And well he (she?) should. I sense this zzz just skimmed the article and went off on his own. If these provisions are a part of the new constitution, what other meaning can they possibly contain than that which was set forth in Kesab Poudel's analysis?

 
At 12:24 AM, January 17, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogdai,

RCCC was not just an investigative body as you state. It was a judiciary, an investigative body as well as a prosecuting body just like in medieval times and like in Maoist's courts. In RCCC, same person acted as a judge, an investigator and a prosecutor. Do you see any semblance of independence here? And there was no place for appeals in RCCC.

If you were an unbiased analyst, you would have criticized RCCC the same way you are criticizing the interim constitution. All I am saying is you cannot have double standards.

You may disagree but April andolan was an oppositional voice to the then Govt. The opposition voice to April andolan was coming from Kamal Thapa and company and their voice was weak.

About opposition voice and checks and balance, you seem to think that it was OK for the King, Kamal Thapa et al to kill opposition because political parties were not democratic. Am I going to believe that G, who takes over a government with a coup will teach democratic methods to Nepalese? And who did he hire to teach Congress democratic practices? Tulsi Giri and Kamal Thapa? Give me a break.

About CA election, let us stop second guessing about what is going to happen or if it is going to take place. There are chances that you are right. However, it may go the other way as well. We should stop speculating.

It seems like you think that G is lesser evil among SPA, Maoists, and G. I think that SPA is the lesser evil among the three. G had his chance and he missed it. Girija is certainly doing a better job than G. Give him another year or so.

And let us agree to disagree.

Peace.

ZZZ

BTW, I think you should point out the factual errors about RPP and Surya Bahadur Thapa in that article so that people are not misled.

 
At 6:14 AM, January 17, 2007, Blogger blogdai said...

Comments on RCCC are good but they don't necessarily dispute what I have asserted. The point of the RCCC was, as I said, to be an INDEPENDENT body from that of Nepal's constitutional judiciary.

I can't let this one go however: What stroke of consciousness leads you to believe that Girija is some how doing a "better job?" Better job of what? Leading us to anarchy? Another year or so? He'll be dead. He's had a decade to accomplish something and has produced two noteworthy legacies to his tenure: One, he almost single-handedly allowed Maoism to flourish and grow; and two, his and Deuba's ineptitude triggered a Royal dressing-down and takeover.

I challenge you to name one bit of legislature passed by Girija that did anything other than solidify his grasp on power. Name one! Hydro projects? Out; part of the India lobby. Immigration? Out; no safety for workers and the visa situation is a corrupt mess. Plus he got his cut from private labor. Tainted gas and inflated petro prices? You bet. Where does all our gas come from? Girija's leash holders.

God, if we give him another year he'll hand over the keys to Nepal to India. I don't want to give him another minute.

-=blogdai

 
At 5:36 PM, January 17, 2007, Anonymous sarki ko choro said...

I remember, after Feb 01, 2005 within just the first 100 days people from SPA and other Indian agents like the Kantipur Group started screaming that King's leadership has failed. Now the same agents are asking for one more year for GP after 10 months in the helm already.

Hypocricy shows no bound!

 
At 6:47 PM, January 17, 2007, Blogger blogdai said...

Yes and what a classic example of an uninformed yet democratically-allowed oppositional voice.

Where are these voices now. We should be screaming for Girija's head by now and taking to the streets. No Indian organizational skills and financial backing is my guess.

girija and Prachanda are both too stupid to pull off a government take-back without some serious money and organizational prowess backing them up and feeding them instructions.

Where is such help for the average Nepali who knows he/she is getting the shaft now but is powerless to stop it and afraid to raise an objection?

don't count on the yanks either. they've just endorsed the formation of this ridiculous interim constitution. don't want to ruffle India's feathers now, do we?

-=blogdai

 

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