The insistence of Nepal's Prime Minister K.P. Sharm Oli on maintaining power marks a potentially dangerous juncture along his drift toward authoritarianism.
Voters participated in second general election under 2015 constitution, which saw relatively low turnout and signs of frustration with mainstream parties.
In largely peaceful vote, Nepali Congress poised to become largest party. Country 20 Nov held second general election under current constitutional set-up; vote proceeded largely peacefully despite some disruptions. Notably, police intervened to address disruptions in six districts countrywide; one person died after being shot by police during clashes in Bajura district. Around 61% of nearly 18m registered voters cast their ballots in polls for federal and provincial assemblies — marking decrease from 68% in 2017 contest. With votes still being tallied late Nov, Nepali Congress appeared set to become largest party in federal parliament with calculations predicting around 90 of 275 seats in House of Representatives, 165 of which are elected via first-past-the-post (FPTP) and 110 through nationwide proportional representation (PR) system; Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) appeared poised to secure most PR seats with 2.18mn nationwide votes. Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) will likely remain third largest party but with its share of FPTP seats falling to 18, half of those secured in 2017. Non-mainstream and independent Rastriya Swatantra Party appeared set to secure eight FPTP seats after winning prominent races in Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts, underscoring anti-establishment sentiment, especially in urban areas.
Since it was passed amid deadly protests in September 2015, Nepal’s new constitution has deepened ethnic, social and political fractures. The country’s national parties and protesting groups need to find ways to address constitutional disagreements and underlying disputes. There is a clear risk of escalating violence unless all sides understand that without compromise and good faith Nepal faces an existential threat.
International Crisis Group worked regularly on Nepal from 2003-2012, publishing 33 reports in the period leading up to and following the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the country’s decade-long civil war. Since 2012, Crisis Group has maintained a watching brief on the country.
Nepal’s major political parties must urgently agree on a roadmap to negotiate on federalism and write the new constitution, whether by holding elections to a new Constituent Assembly or reviving the previous body.
With the future of the Maoist combatants finally settled, Nepal’s peace process has gained momentum after a long stalemate, but challenges remain, particularly the design of a new federal state and evolving coalition and factional dynamics of the parties.
Nepal’s Maoist combatants urgently need to be integrated into the national security forces and rehabilitated or retired to consolidate the peace process.
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