Monday, June 25, 2007

Panchayat II: "Guided Democracy"

They're at it again. Our boys in parliament can't wait to destroy any form of citizen representation or fair election. Blogdai buddy Keshab Poudel outlines the new fiasco perfectly below . blogdai commentary in blue. -=BD

The second amendment in the interim constitution and passage of Constituent Assembly Members Elections Act, pushes the country’s political system to tilt towards a guided democracy in which basic elements of democracy like right to dissension, right to contest the election, right to choose and independence of judiciary are denied


With the introduction of new Constituent Assembly Members Elections Act and second amendment of Interim Constitution, Nepal's political system is tilting towards the form of a guided democracy where there is no place for the voice of dissensions, independent judiciary, right to contest the elections and right to choose. Just like in Panchayat days, people have only the right to vote.

After the passage of the Act, there are now only two classes of people - one who have privileges to vote and also contest the elections and others who are given only the right to vote. (Let's hear it for Nepal's new caste system. Thanks India!)

The article 45(2) has already made persons ineligible to be a member of legislative parliament who had stood against the popular uprising of 2006. Now the clause 19 (h) of Constituent Assembly Members Elections Act 2007 bars those (from contesting the polls) who were indicted in the report of fact finding commission constituted to inquire abuse of authority, loss and damage in popular uprising of April 2006. ("If you cannot tolerate freedom of speech for those you disagree with, you cannot tolerate it at all" --Noam Chomsky)

"The members of parliament passed the bill with a reference of inquiry commission report which is still secret even to them. Without knowing what is there in the report, they inscribed a restrictive provision in the act to debar the people. As parties issued the whip, members of parliament had to follow whip rather than their own conscience," said a political analyst. "As the commission report has taken a statutory shape, the common people have the right to know the content of that inquiry commission's report, which is now referred in the statute." (Aside from a total misinterperatation of the term and role of the whip, this is a classic, arrogant abuse of power designed to make the current constitution so convoluted and restrictive that constituent assembly elections will have little force. Girija, as blogdai has mentioned MANY times before, will never, NEVER allow any constituent assembly to reduce his power.)

This is not for the first time when Nepal has experimented the practice of guided democracy though. During the whole period of Panchayat, the constitution and laws, in one way or the other, had followed the practice of guided democracy placing certain clause in constitution barring the entry of other candidates who held dissenting views.
The second amendment of Constitution of Nepal in 1975 added many provisions to restrict persons from opposition. In the name of consensus, power to elect and contest the election were monopolized by a small group of people.
According to Article 38 (1) of the interim constitution, prime minister and cabinet shall be formed under the political agreement of eight political parties. The article makes it clear that political understanding means consensus among eight parties - Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Nepali Congress Democratic, People's Front, Nepal Sadbhvana Party (Anandidevi), Nepal Peasant and Workers Party, United Left Front and CPN-Maoist, which developed political understanding on November 9, 2006.
The article 45 (3) says the business of Legislative Parliament is conducted under political consensus. (Who's consensus other than Girija's will carry any weight?)

Back in Panchayat days, u nder a political organ of 'Back to Village Campaign,' a large section of opponents were barred from entering into the political system and the second amendment of Constitution of Nepal 1962, too, stressed for political understanding and consensus to hold all the business from village to central level. In a phase wise political nucleus called 'Back To Village Campaign,' selected persons solicited support for their views, mobilized the public opinion and emerged as the political force in the elected bodies from top to bottom. That was a form of guided democracy with all flowery adjectives.
Even after the third amendment of that Panchayati constitution –which took place following the great democratic exercise of national referendum - there was a restriction for opponents to contest the elections.
During the period, present vice president of Rastriya Janashakti Party Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani's nomination was rejected on the ground of selecting the candidate with consensus. Scholar like Dr. Lohani was barred from politics to allow semi-literate and illiterate in the politics.

In that old constitution, according to article 35(C), in order to become a member of the National Panchayat, a person had to be a member of a Class Organization or professional organization pursuant to the provisions of article 67 b which said membership of any of the class organizations or professional organizations as determined by an Act shall be compulsory in order to be elected as a member of local Panchayat or National Panchayat,

Similar provision is now added in the act. According to the clause 19 of the CA Elections Act, one shall be ineligible to contest the election of CA if indicted in the Rayamajhi Commission's Report. Similarly, political parties which opposed the Popular uprising of April 2006 are also barred.
People can be barred from contesting elections on the basis of their ideology and views. Political parties have to express complete faith in Popular Uprising to get party registration for the elections.

"People of Nepal have been granted a new form of democracy which is appropriately termed as Loktantra. The essence of this democracy is that the people have been declared as sovereign but they have been deprived to choose a representative of their own choice following the second amendment, of the interim constitution," said the political analyst, who closely monitors political and constitutional development.

According to preamble and article 2 of the interim constitution, the sovereignty of Nepal vests upon the people of Nepal . It means the people have given right to choose his/her destiny. However, the new act restricted the right of individual to contest the elections. Nobody knows the logic behind this restrictive provision to deprive persons - who are not prosecuted in the court and convicted by it.

"After all why they needed this stringent clause to debar a person to go to the people and compete with others," said the analyst. "The essence of democracy as it is universally understood lies in a right to dissent as well as choose a form of government- which means right to vote as well as right to contest the elections." The interim constitution which was promulgated on January 15, 2007 already had some provisions to deny the right to differ as well as right to get elected. With the experiences of past few months, a fear psychology has haunted the leaders of present and inclusion of new article to abolish monarchy through amendment is the result of that. As the army has been quarantined from the command of the King and no role has been left for that traditional institution, there was no reasonable cause to apprehend any serious obstructions from the king to accomplish the task of contesting the constituent assembly except some invisible machinations but political leaders are still afraid of the King. (Finally! A bit of insight. This analyst has hit the nail squarely on the head. There is absolutely NO impediment for holding elections. Why the delay? Are our boys too busy whipping up legislation to punish the King? They seem to be able to accomplish THAT task efficiently.)

"Committed Judiciary"

One of the most objectionable articles in second amendment is regarding the legislative examination for the appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court. In article 155, a new word is added making parliamentary hearing necessary for the appointment of judges of Supreme Court. Whether it is just coincidence or some link, these clauses were added just under the strong insistence of CPN-UML leaders who proposed these things following their highly publicized visit to India . (This completely destroys an independent judiciary and its ability to check Girija's run away power grab)

Enough damage has been done during the last one year to the independence of judiciary as well as the court by a series of humiliating orders and ordeals. This latest clause will further weaken the judiciary.
Although senior advocate and MP Radheshyam Adhikary and advocate and MP Harihar Dahal had made vehement efforts to change this clause, CPN-UML and other communist factions turned deaf ear to their logics.
"They have hardly any confidence and reason of having a permanent tenure with dignity. Now after this second amendment, Nepal is forced to have "committed judges" even in the supreme court level," said the analyst. "Members of parliament with varied ideologies or prime minister with a dominating role may have a natural tendency to get such judges to be appointed who may not be hurdle in their political push and drives."

The concept of committed judge was vigorously pleaded in India during Mrs. Gandhi's alliance with former Soviet Union as well as communist lobbies within the country. In a political background of Nepal when every appointment by the political executive is made by a political bias, the impact of this clause is anybody's guess.

"These amendments in the constitution and some clauses of Constituent Assembly Elections Act have violated the basic essence of liberal democracy. The clauses added in the constitution turned the judiciary like that of committed judiciary of communist regime. Similarly, barring the persons from contesting the elections on the basis of the report of a fact finding commission violates the essence of rule of law," said member of legislative parliament Homnath Dahal. "As a member of liberal democratic party, I will always oppose the move to weaken independence of judiciary and violation of rule of law."
The concept of Judicial Council was introduced by the last constitution to guard and protect the independence and integrity of judge. Even article 113 of Present Interim Constitution also has this mandatory provision.

"One fails to understand what role and obligation the council will fulfill if the parliament would examine and approve the appointment of judges of Supreme Court. This basic feature of the second amendment has created a widespread resentment which has no credible outlet to get ventilated," said the analyst.

Most of the widely circulated media have their own corporate diktat to be followed which has its own inexplicable compulsions. Persons having in-depth knowledge of the working of the constitution has no ways and means to make their pressures effective.
Persons like Jimmy Carter may come with one declared mission and amusingly return back with different impressions.

"But, all these things will have far fetched serious consequences in the hard earned experiments of democratic exercise as well as in the life of citizen. Unfortunately, not only the people but their leaders too don't know what next is waiting for them," said the analyst. (Nepal never really had a decent experiment with democracy. It was all a greedy sham from the beginning)

Under the amendment in the constitution, new clauses are incorporated in the article 159 of the interim constitution. Under a new clause 3(a), two-third majority of members of legislative parliament can abolish the monarchy in case members of parliament find King is working against the elections of Constituent Assembly and involved to sabotage it. Under the article 159 (3) (b), the right to present such proposal in parliament is given to the cabinet. (A pure diversion designed to cover Girija's and congress's ineptitude. These guys could drum up any reason or any verification against the King whenever they want, according to this provision. They'll use this article to abolish the monarchy at the earliest possible time. How shallow; the King has no power or influence to effectively sabotage anything. However, he still has the loyalty of the RNA, so let's wait and see..)

According to the article 155 (3), the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly will decide about the fate of monarchy on the basis of simple majority. The second amendment in the constitution was made in such a rush as nobody knows why so many new provisions were amended. When the first amendment was passed, this idea had not crept in as the first amendment was to address the issues raised by regional uprisings in the south launched by several factions of Madhesi fronts. (What kind of constituent assembly will this be if members are forced to determine the fate of the King immediately? Shouldn't such a free and independent assembly establish its own agenda? Arrogant, autocratic, facist, megalomaniacal: how else can I describe thee Girija?)

Since then no significant event has occurred. However, after sometime the trends indicated what is being staged in the name of Madhesis may occur in the hills on the north under the over of Janjatis. A phase of ideologically oriented communist insurgency was over and a new low intensity trouble has been introduced in a stage-managed manner beginning from terai with a distinct possibility of spreading up all over the country.
"If that ideological insurgency could continue for a decade, this low intensity upsurge may go on for more than that. People in Nepal have to endure this "durable disorder" for a decade to come. But the most pertinent question is: Will this volatile region could endure this kind of instability for long in Nepal ?" asked the analyst. (Wave after wave of movements demonstrates that there is no effective governmental control on a national level; and worse, people are beginning to take the law into their own hands. Is this Loktantra, little boy? More like a classic case study in a failed state slipping into anarchy.)

"The amendment has not only deprived the right of King but much more seriously it has deprived the people from their right to decide about the form of next constitution as well as the fate of institution of monarchy," said the analyst. "Once the people have been declared to decide the fate of monarchy through the Constituent Assembly, these kinds of round about way to deal with this institution is a betrayal to the people. Fraudulent act of this kind is a violation of oath and elegance of the people."

Whether one likes it or not, the present day reality is that the country is functioning on the model of guided democracy.

Article Courtesy : Spotlight
(One bright note in all of this is that people with half a brain in Nepal are finally recognizing the exact nature of the problem. No more starry-eyed little stone-throwing students waiting for acknowledgement from Girija. No, we now see the unilateral power grab naked, and on legislative terms. This administration has no clue on how to run their so called "absolute democracy" so they re-work old Panchayat ideas and call it "Loktantra" hoping Nepalis are too stupid to know what's going on.

Trash it, trash the government right now. Burn Singha Durbar to the ground. This whole process and the scum who claim to be in charge have ruined Nepal. Scrape them all off the table and begin again. It is too late for anything else...