Govt 28 Jan decided to extend terms of two transitional justice mechanisms on truth and reconciliation and on enforced disappearances by one year, days before their mandates were due to expire on 9 Feb; both mechanisms, formed in 2015, have made little progress on investigating over 65,000 conflict-era cases. UN and nine embassies including the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Australia, and the EU issued joint statement 24 Jan asking govt to clarify future of transitional justice process and to encourage greater public consultation especially with victims. Victims’ groups claim both mechanisms have failed to deliver and require restructuring; govt yet to address calls to amend transitional justice legislation to prohibit amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights violations. Madhes (southern lowland)-based Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal – member of ruling coalition – 5 Jan submitted 11-point memorandum to PM KP Oli calling for current session of parliament to pursue constitutional amendments related to federalism and proportional representation. Tensions between federal and newly-created provincial-level govts continued to increase following 14 Jan tabling of policing legislation in federal parliament; provincial officials claim legislation grants disproportionate authority to federal govt on managing provincial security, reflects distrust of local govt, and dilutes new federal structure.
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.