2006 democracy movement in Nepal: Wikis

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The 2006 Democracy Movement (Nepali: लोकतन्त्र आन्दोलन Loktantra Āndolan) is a name given to the political agitations against the rule of King Gyanendra of Nepal. The movement is also sometimes referred to as Jana Andolan-II ("People's Movement-II"), implying it being a continuation of the 1990 Jana Andolan [1].

Contents

Background

On February 1, 2005 the royal takeover was further advanced as the King appointed a government led by himself and at the same time enforced martial law. The King argued that civil politicians were unfit to handle the Maoist insurgency. Telephone lines were cut and several high-profile political leaders were detained. Other opposition leaders fled to India and regrouped there. A broad alliance against the royal takeover called the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) was organized, encompassing about 90% of the seats in the old, dissolved parliament.

In December SPA signed a 12-point understanding with the Maoists. Within the framework of that understanding, Maoists committed themselves to multiparty democracy and freedom of speech. SPA, for their part, accepted the Maoist demand for elections to a Constituent Assembly.

At the beginning of 2006, the situation became yet more tense as SPA launched agitation programmes around the country. A series of waves of arrests of opposition leaders were conducted. The agitations reached a peak around the February 8 municipal elections, which were boycotted by the SPA and the Maoists. In total, official figures claimed a participation of about 21%. Opposition sources questioned those claims. ssc

April general strike

Nepalese Riot Police

SPA called for a 4-day nationwide general strike between April 5-9. The Maoists called for a cease-fire in the Kathmandu valley. The general strike saw numerous protests. A curfew was announced by the government on April 8, with reported orders to shoot protestors on sight. Despite this, small, disorganized protests continued.

On April 9, SPA announced that it intended to continue its protests indefinitely and called for a tax boycott. The government announced plans to step up its enforcement of the curfew and claimed that the Maoists had infiltrated the protests. Prachanda, the leader of the CPN(M), had said that "this is no longer a protest by opposition parties ... it has become a people's movement," and warned that he himself could lead a revolt in the capital.

Protests continued in the following days, with crowds increasing to sizes estimated at 100,000 to 200,000 in Kathmandu in various estimates, more than 10% of the city population. On April 21, opposition sources claim that about half a million took part in the protests in Kathmandu.[2] More conservative estimates talk about 300,000. It is worth noting that a number of the protesters came from outside Kathmandu Valley.

Later the same evening, King Gyanendra announced that he would return political power to the people and called for elections to be held as soon as possible. He called on SPA to nominate a new Prime Minister of Nepal in a speech on a state-owned television station, saying, "We return the executive power of the country to the people. We request the seven-party alliance to recommend a name for the post of prime minister who will have the responsibility to run the government."[3] The position of Prime Minister has been vacant since 1 February 2005 when King Gyanendra removed Sher Bahadur Deuba from office and dissolved the Nepalese Parliament indefinitely. However, the royal proclamation was rebuffed by the opposition. At 3 p.m. the next day, the leaders of SPA met in the capital, and staked out three demands, namely: reinstitution of the old parliament; formation of an all-party government; and elections to a Constituent Assembly that will draft a new constitution.[4][5]

Reinstitution of Parliament

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In a nationally televised address, King Gyanendra reinstated the old Nepal House of Representatives on April 24, 2006.[6] [7] The King called upon the Seven Party Alliance to bear the responsibility of taking the nation on the path to national unity and prosperity, while ensuring permanent peace and safeguarding multiparty democracy.

The reinstitution of Parliament was accepted by the SPA. It declared that Girija Prasad Koirala would lead the new government. The SPA stated that the new parliament will hold elections for a body that would write a new constitution.[8]

The move was rejected by the maoists. Baburam Bhattarai stated that merely restoring the parliament was not going to resolve the problems and that the rebels planned to continue fighting against government forces.[9] They still demand the formation of a Constituent Assembly and abolition of the monarchy.

On April 27, however, the Maoist insurgents responded to demands by Girija Prasad Koirala and announced a unilateral three-month truce in the Nepal Civil War.[10][11] In addition to this, on May 1, Bhattarai announced that if "the elections [to a Constituent Assembly] are free and fair, one has to respect the result of the elections. Then of course we will abide by the verdict of the people." [12] This was seen as a large step forward as it shows the first signs of Maoist acceptance of the democratic process.

On May 2, Koirala announced the new government cabinet including himself and three other ministers from the Nepali Congress: K.P. Sharma Oli from CPN (UML), Gopal Man Shrestha from Nepali Congress (Democratic) and Prabhu Narayan Chaudhari from the United Left Front.[13] This was followed on May 12 by the arrest of four ministers from the ousted royalist government and an investigation into alleged human rights violations by the army during the General Strike.[14]

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May 18 Act

The most dramatic move of the post-Loktantra Andolan government came on May 18, 2006 when the Parliament unanimously voted to strip the King of many of his powers. The bill included:

  • Putting 90,000 troops in the hands of the parliament
  • Placing a tax on the royal family and its assets
  • Ending the Raj Parishad, a royal advisory council
  • Eliminating royal references from army and government titles
  • Declaring Nepal a secular country, not a Hindu Kingdom
  • Scrapping the national anthem until a new one is made
  • Scrapping the king's position as the Supreme Commander of the Army

The act overrides the 1990 Constitution, written up following the Jana Andolan and has been described as a Nepalese Magna Carta. According to Prime Minister Koirala, "This proclamation represents the feelings of all the people."

May 18 has already been named Loktantrik Day (Democracy Day) by some.[15]

Although the constitution was accepted, it was always intended to be temporary and on May 29, 2008 a new constitution was voted on by the Nepalese Parliament, which declared that the monarchy would be deposed and a new parliamentary republic would become the Nepalese political framework. [1]

References

  1. ^ General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions: Honour Nepali Sentiment; Continue support to Jana Andolan II
  2. ^ General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions: Over 500,000 defy curfew in Kathmandu, at least 3 get martyrdom
  3. ^ "Power to the people". The Age. 2006-04-22. http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/power-to-the-people/2006/04/22/1145344311840.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1. Retrieved 2006-04-22.  
  4. ^ "Nepal party promises new protests". BBC News. 2006-04-22. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4932894.stm. Retrieved 2006-04-22.  
  5. ^ United We Blog!: General Strike Day XVII
  6. ^ Sengupta, Somini (25 April 2006). "In a Retreat, Nepal's King Says He Will Reinstate Parliament". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/25/world/asia/25nepal.html?hp&ex=1146024000&en=8fe71bf94d2a73c8&ei=5094&partner=homepage.  
  7. ^ "Full text: King Gyanendra's speech". BBC. 24 April 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4940876.stm.  
  8. ^ Reporter, Kantipur (25 April 2006). "'Announcement of CA elections main agenda of reinstated parliament'; Koirala to become PM". Kantipur News. http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=71957.  
  9. ^ Majumder, Sanjoy (25 April 2006). "Nepalis cautious over king's move". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4942378.stm.  
  10. ^ "Nepal Maoist rebels offer truce". BBC. 27 April 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4949066.stm.  
  11. ^ "Nepal's Maoists Declare Ceasefire". VOA. 27 April 2006. http://voanews.com/english/nepal-ceasfire.cfm.  
  12. ^ "Rebels 'would respect' Nepal vote". BBC. 1 April 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4962062.stm.  
  13. ^ NepalNews 2 May 2006
  14. ^ "Former Nepal ministers arrested". BBC. 12 May 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4766385.stm.  
  15. ^ General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions: GEFONT National Council welcomes HoR Proclamation; urges Nepal Government to declare Jeth 04 as the Loktantrik Day <back>

http://www.kantipuronline.com/columns.php?&nid=89952

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