Echoes of political strife

I found this story story about Nepal to be particularly concerning. In case you did not know, Nepal was locked in a bitter civil war between government forces and Maoist rebels throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s. Thousands of people were killed and the country’s tourism, unfortunately, took a hit. Peace has taken a hold with democratic elections held in 2008, along with the abolishment of monarch. However, the new government, which is dominated by Maoists, including former rebels, has fired the Chief of the Army over policy differences. As a soon-to-be visitor, I am very aware that this could have an impact on my trip. Hopefully, this isn’t going to amount to anything serious but it is worth posting. I feel confident I will be able to lend my hand to the people of Nepal, regardless of politics and government bureaucracy. Honestly, I think this current situation in Nepal seems a lot less tense than the political atmosphere here in the United States. The link to the story is just below.

From BBC News:

Nepal’s army chief has been fired by the ruling Maoists in a row over integrating their former fighters into the armed forces.

General Rookmangud Katawal was forced out during a special Cabinet meeting, the information minister said.

He was accused of defying government orders to stop hiring new recruits and to get rid of eight generals.

The government wants to integrate former Maoist rebel fighters into the army – a move opposed by generals.

Correspondents say the row could undermine the peace process which ended the civil war in 2006.

The Maoists fought the army for more than a decade before giving up their armed revolt in 2006 and joining a peace process.

Thirteen-thousand people died in the conflict.

It would be quite difficult to engage in community development if guns and explosions are going off. Given the humanitarian interest in Nepal from so many different agencies, the political factions in Nepal have an obligation to make sure these new tensions do not broil into anything serious so that the deep poverty the country is facing can be addressed. So far, Nepalese citizens I have talked to don’t seem to reflect the hostilities between the Army and the Government, instead they have a kind, generous nature and are looking towards a new future.

This is something to keep an eye on…but in the end peace and democracy are going to prevail in this festive, mountainous country full of culture and history.

Update: Nepal’s President is unwilling to go along with the decision made by the Prime Minister and the Maoist government…the Maoists are unhappy about this.

From The Himalayan Times:

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s ruling Maoists warned that the Himalayan nation’s peace process was “in peril” after the country’s president attempted to stop them sacking the powerful army chief.

The ultra-leftists fired General Rookmangud Katawal for refusing to integrate former Maoist rebel soldiers into the regular army, a key part of a 2006 peace deal that ended a decade of civil war.

But centrist President Ram Baran Yadav has told the army chief to stay.

Maoist spokesman and cabinet minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara told AFP that this was tantamount to a “constitutional coup” and vowed to fight back with street protests.

“The president is… violating constitutional norms. The president’s move has put the peace process in peril,” he told AFP. “Our party has taken the president’s step as a constitutional coup and we will fight against it.”

“The executive power to sack and appoint an acting army chief lies with the government and not the president. We will stick to our decision. We don’t have any plans to quit the government,” he said.

He said that the decision to sack the head of the army — traditionally a bastion of Nepal’s elite and former monarchy — was necessary to bring the army under civilian control.

 The opposition Nepali Congress party described the army chief’s sacking as “undemocratic and autocratic” and an attempt by the Maoists to “impose dictatorial rule” on Nepal.

Nepal does not need this right now. Politicians are always so focused on their own differences they easily forget about the people they are supposed to serve…this doesn’t just apply to Nepal in particular, because my own country hasn’t exactly been leading the way in a post-partisan politics, unfortunately. Anyway, there is widespread poverty all over Nepal, as I mentioned, and there are people in refugee camps throughout the country. Maybe the Maoists, the Opposition, and the Army could address that instead of argue and threaten a hard-earned peace process.

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