Monday, November 19, 2007

They Don't Know How to Govern, Period.

They don't know how to lead, and they don't want to be put under pressure. They just want to return to the days when all they had to do was sit in their chairs and pretend to be important.

Their country is burning and they can't even sit down and discuss issuse that will determine their own political fates.

They have no idea what they are doing and never have.

In times of political crises like we see in Nepal today, real leaders sit down, lock the doors, and find a compromised solution to save their country. They do no take "recess" and they do not give up after one hour of mindless chit chat.

Yet another meeting has ended "inconclusively" today:

Top level meeting ends inconclusively

A top level meeting of the seven parties held at Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar Monday morning ended without taking any concrete decision.
During the meeting that ended within an hour the top leaders discussed about announcing a fresh date for constituent assembly election and implementing the proposals passed by the special session of the interim parliament, among others issues.
Although the meeting was expected to make headway in building some kind of political compromise, the Nepali Congress and the Maoists stuck to their respective positions.
However, the meeting was significant on one aspect as the leaders agreed to continue the ongoing dialogue for forging a consensus on holding the election by April next year while keeping the seven party unity intact.
At the meeting the Maoist leaders proposed a review of all past agreements and move forward with a new understanding.
The meeting came ahead of the regular winter session of the interim parliament that begins at 3 pm today. ag Nov 19 07

People of Nepal: Get these idiots out of Singha Durbar NOW, while you still have a country.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stupid Political Quote of the Day

Blogdai gets tired of giving Maoists attention. They don't deserve it. But I get equally tired from hearing blabbering Maoist leaders say things that make no sense. Prachanda has been spouting this quote for a while and it's time we called him out on it:

"Holding constituent assembly elections is impossible without announcing republic first."

So, if we follow all definitions of "Republic," Prachanda is saying that we cannot establish an elected representative government until we agree to call ourselves an elected representative government.

Who cares what it is called. Suppose Prachanda demanded we call ourselves a banana sandwich and said elections are impossible until we do so. Same damn thing.

Look, the terms Republic, Democracy, Feudal Fiefdom, Indentured Servitude, whatever, are terms used to describe political and social systems. They describe. You do not need to label your intended political system choice ahead of time as some sort of permission to hold elections.

If he's trying to imply that a Republic is a form of proportional representation and that some groups in Nepal are not proportionally represented, then, for God's sake, have a constiuent assembly election and let each of these groups stand or fall on their own merit to the electorate.

Let's do whatever the momentum of the populace tells us to do. Right now that momentum says to hold elections. If, through these elections we decide that we want to label what we've done a Republic, then good. Don't hold up these precious elections because some confused moron terrorist doesn't realize he's put the cart before the horse.

In any event, Nepal must evolve into whatever form of government an active citizenry decides. The key is participation. Elections are the single greatest means of getting people interested in changing their government. Perhaps a Republic will emerge from this process.... perhaps a banana sandwich.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Clear-Eyed and Unbiased

(We need more articles like this. Tobias Denskus is clearly an insider among Nepal's international foreign aid set; yet he breaks up the boys club of aid excess and ineptitude and screams that the aid emporer has no clothes. God, if we could assemble a think tank of individuals such as Mr. Denskus, solid action stemming from the identification of actual issues might, miraculously, be the new standard for aid in Nepal. -=blogdai)

After five decades of ‘development’ and ten years of violent conflict, Kathmandu has remained in a ‘bubble of innocence’, as one donor representative described the state of mind in a city that seems remarkably far away from ‘underdevelopment’, ‘poverty’ or ‘war’. When the people formed a democracy movement last year and demonstrated on the streets, few conflict advisers and inhabitants of the bubble were able to predict the political changes that were about to happen.

- By Tobias Denskus

One recent report on a conference in Brussels organised by a northern NGO and interestingly entitled ‘Nepal: Looking beyond Kathmandu-Challenges and Opportunities for peacebuilding from below’, had a cover page with pictures from Nepal (rural women with children–unrelated to the conflict and the conference) and a second page with pictures from the conference venue of a nondescript board-room-style meeting room, handsome European women and men and artefacts such as a data projector and video-conferencing equipment.

The French philosopher Marc Augé coined the expression of ‘non-places’ for such spaces without history or individual meaning that only exist to enable commercial interactions. In the globalised aid world such places exist in Brussels - or in the well-known hotels and resorts in and around Kathmandu where workshops are usually conducted. As long as such exchanges shape the debate about post-conflict societies, real social change for the majority of Nepalis seems further away than any election dates, a new constitution or accountable services in rural areas.

After five decades of ‘development’ and ten years of violent conflict, Kathmandu has remained in a ‘bubble of innocence’, as one donor representative described the state of mind in a city that seems remarkably far away from ‘underdevelopment’, ‘poverty’ or ‘war’. When the people formed a democracy movement last year and demonstrated on the streets, few conflict advisers and inhabitants of the bubble were able to predict the political changes that were about to happen. But they quickly shared their relief that the promising signs of the Maoist party joining ‘mainstream politics’, a forthcoming constituent assembly, and parliamentary elections would put Nepal back on the ‘road to development’.

Some donors were relieved that they could now continue with work they had planned before the violent conflict, and that the small Nepali elite in Kathmandu seemed to be willing to address the ‘root causes’ that have kept Nepal in ‘poverty’ for the past 55 years. A bright ‘post-conflict’ mirage was visible and donor amnesia quickly replaced reflective practice. Aid specialists from other post-war ‘non-places’ quickly arrived in Kathmandu to share their approaches, always stressing that they needed to be tailored to Nepal, of course.

‘Arms management’, ‘security sector reforms’, ‘transitional justice’ – the Fall 2007 collection arrived in Kathmandu straight from the peacebuilding catwalks in Europe without looking outside the ‘bubble’, or searching for stories in the remote villages of Nepal, asking local people about the future direction of their country. A former ‘conflict adviser’ of a European donor observes:

‘When I first attended the meetings of the conflict advisors’ group I was surprised to find them talking over simple and conservative conflict analyses and I immediately started to wonder whether these guys [all but one were men at that time] should know these things by now and before coming to Kathmandu’.

If I look at the amount of reports, briefings and notes that arrive in my email inbox, I find that a lot of the insights are not rooted in local realties or have emerged from interactions other than bringing a few people together for a workshop with flipcharts and red plastic chairs. Harmonising discourses and approaches may be in vogue in today’s ‘Aidland’, but, as this donor went on to comment, donor co-ordination in the peacebuilding community of Kathmandu seemed somewhat over-enthusiastic: ‘We had 400 meetings after the February 1 coup of the King in 2005. I knew more about what the Japanese and Americans were doing than about our projects in the field.’ The professional life-world in Kathmandu was also matched by the sheltered private lifestyle of most international inhabitants of ‘Aidland’, because the Maoist violence never reached the Kathmandu Valley.

‘Peacebuilding’ is almost always linked to issues of ‘governmentality’ – making ‘chaotic’ and ‘unsafe’ places fit for (neo)liberal democracy. Nepal is doomed to be a success-story of how a violent conflict can be transformed through peaceful, democratic means and adoption of the latest fashion in ‘peace-building’ and the international spectators in form of UNMIN staff or EU election observers have eagerly arrived in the ‘stadium’ in Kathmandu. Neither critical voices nor lessons learned from the failed development of Nepal, nor indeed the history of failed ‘peacebuilding’ interventions elsewhere, will enter the narrative of ‘success’.