Govt intensified response against hardline Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) amid allegations of an extrajudicial killing. Local media reported police 20 June killed Kumar Paudel, CPN’s top leader in Sarlahi district; Paudel second CPN individual killed in alleged police action in two months; death aroused suspicions, including in parliament, of extrajudicial killing; MPs 24 June questioned Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa with one MP claiming Paudel may have been shot with his hands tied. CPN 24 June called nationwide strike in protest of killing; IEDs found in several places around country. Govt also received widespread criticism for proposed legislation aimed at nationalising ownership of community-based trusts – known as Guthis; critics claimed govt sought to commercially benefit from nationalisation while undermining religious and cultural practices of indigenous Newar community; police 9 June injured six in alleged use of force against Guthi bill protesters; despite govt 18 June withdrawing bill, thousands 19 June took to streets in Kathmandu in largest mass demonstration since 2006 People’s Movement. Police 7 June arrested comedian Pranesh Gautam on charges of violating Cyber Crime Act, rights activists criticised charges as dubious; Gautam released on court order 16 June.
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.