Internal dissent within ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) continued to raise concerns about stability of govt. Senior NCP leaders criticised PM KP Oli for monopolising party decisions, including on appointments of provincial-level leaders; widespread censure by NCP members’ senior and rank-and-file members toward an eventually scrapped but haphazard plan to elect senior leader Bamdev Gautam into parliament after having a sitting MP resign also stoked internal discord. Govt’s sluggish performance and failure to empower provincial authorities in line with 2015 constitution also hampering governance and creating tensions between federal and provincial govts. NCP Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal warned Province 2 (the only province out of seven in total composed of Tarai-only districts) to not “overtake” the federal govt after it endorsed provincial-level police act 13 Oct; Dahal argued the act contravened the constitution and undermined transition to federalism. Province 2 govt deferred threats to further adopt new legislation on civil service and a public service commission for a month following federal govt assurance it would enact necessary laws within that time; federal govt also claimed it would authorise provinces to handle internal security matters until a federal police act is issued.
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.