Govt campaign against hardline Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) continued; CPN and police 10 July clashed in eastern Bhojpur district, killing one cadre and one police official. Amid concerns over govt’s use of force against CPN individuals, govt rejected opposition parties’ repeated calls for formation of parliamentary panel to investigate 20 June killing of CPN cadre Kumar Paudel in Sarlahi district; National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) 19 July launched investigation into 20 June incident following preliminary probe suggesting police killed Paudel under suspicious circumstances. Opposition continued to criticise govt for failing to make progress on talks with CPN; CPN has set three preconditions for talks – official invitation from govt, lifting ban on its activities, release of arrested cadres. Tensions between federal and provincial govts continued with Supreme Court 1 July ruling federal Public Service Commission can fill over 9,000 vacant civil service positions at provincial level; provincial officials claimed recruitment initiative undermines their jurisdiction and violates principles of inclusion by ignoring quotas for marginalised groups. NGOs Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch, and TRIAL International 29 July expressed concerns about govt’s commitment to transitional justice and raised questions about selection of new leadership for Nepal’s two main transitional justice mechanisms.
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.
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.
The parties to Nepal’s fitful peace process have less than eight weeks to agree on integration of Maoist combatants and federalism before the term of the Constituent Assembly elected to draft a new constitution expires.
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.