The insistence of Nepal's Prime Minister K.P. Sharm Oli on maintaining power marks a potentially dangerous juncture along his drift toward authoritarianism.
Refugee scandal embroiled mainstream parties, while PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal undertook first visit to India since taking office.
Refugee scandal rocked major parties. Following arrests made by police, Kathmandu District Attorney’s Office 24 May filed charges against three senior politicians – former deputy PM, former home minister and former home secretary, all members of ruling Nepali Congress or opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) – and 27 others for their alleged involvement in issuing fraudulent documents to Nepali nationals to enter U.S. as Bhutanese refugees. Speculation grew that Nepali Congress may threaten to quit ruling coalition after it had reportedly unsuccessfully lobbied against arrests of senior officials.
PM Dahal visited India. In his first foreign visit since becoming PM, Pushpa Kamal Dahal 31 May arrived in India’s capital New Delhi for four-day state visit, signalling continued importance of bilateral ties. U.S. State Department’s 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom issued 15 May claimed that religious groups associated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had lobbied Nepali politicians in favour of restoring Hinduism as official state religion; Nepal’s foreign ministry 28 May sent “diplomatic note” to U.S. embassy regarding report.
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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