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Celebration of First Anniversary of Republic Nepal

Issue 23, June 7, 2009

Siddhi B Ranjitkar

On May 29, 2009 (Jyestha 15, 2065), the Government of Nepal and the united Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) have celebrated the first anniversary of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in their own ways. On May 28, 2008 (Jyestha 15, 2064), the Constituent Assembly-cum-parliament has declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal by overwhelming votes. Since then Nepalis have been living under the name of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal; however, the Constituent Assembly needs to complete the writing of a new Constitution of Nepal for really making Nepal a federal state.

The government has celebrated the first anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Nepal at the parade ground in Kathmandu on May 29, 2009. The President at the center Vice-president and Speaker on his right, Prime Minister and Chief Justice on his left have sat at the Nepal Army pavilion in Kathmandu and watched the various programs such as the development progress parade staged by various government departments and state-owned corporations, then the cultural parade by municipalities, demonstration of sports by the National Sport Council, and military parade. Then, all the five dignitaries: President, Vice-president, Prime Minister, Speaker and Chief Justice set some doves free as the symbol of peace.

At the end of the celebration, newly appointed Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal delivered a speech. In the speech he has said that Nepalis have peacefully removed the monarchy that has denied the rights to Nepalis on various pretexts; however, the challenging task is to make the Nepalis sovereign and to follow the rule of law; making Nepalis belonging to various classes, regions, castes, gender and communities the sovereign in the real sense of its meaning is possible only through the medium of the inclusive democracy based on federalism. He also has warned all political leaders that if the current non-understanding among the political leaders continues then the writing of a new constitution and completion of the peace process will be in jeopardy.
The five dignitaries dressed in the uniform of the undeclared or brought-forward dress code enforced by the rulers of the previous regime for the state civil officials, and watching the various parades have reminded me the similar annual celebration by the government of the no-party system called Panchayat in the past. The then-rulers have alienated from the common folks enforcing a special dress code for the state employees including the civil servants that have been employed for service delivery.

Then, the Prime Minister has laid the foundation stone for building a Monument to Republic at Ratna Park in Kathmandu. On the first day of the inauguration of the government of Madhav Kumar Nepal on May 23, 2009, the Council of Ministers has decided to build a Monument to Republic at the Ratna Park in Kathmandu. The previous government headed by Maoist Chairman Prachanda has decided to build a Monument to Republic on the premises of the Narayanhiti National Museum.

On the eve of the first anniversary of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in a congratulatory statement, First President of Democratic Republic of Nepal Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has congratulated all Nepalis on the occasion of the first anniversary of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, and has said that our main tasks are to complete the peace process and the writing of a new constitution; these two things will make our republic take roots; so, we need to complete the writing of a new constitution within the remaining one-year period the deadline set by our Interim Constitution for writing a new constitution.

The UCPN-Maoist cadres have celebrated the first anniversary of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal taking out a political procession and then converging it into a rally at Gadibaithak in Kathmandu. Maoist leaders addressed the rally and lambasted the President for his unconstitutional step of directly ordering the Chief of Army Staff to stay on in the job overruling the decision of the government led by Maoist Chairman Prachanda, and the Constituent Assembly for unethically electing the loser of elections in two constituencies Madhav Kumar Nepal for the position of Prime Minister.

Maoist leaders have said that the current government has been built on the supremacy of army rather than the civilian supremacy over the army; it will not be acceptable to them. So, they will start off a peaceful movement in towns and cities for civilian supremacy over the army, for writing a people’s constitution and for safeguarding the nascent republic.

Successive three people’s movements have been responsible for taking Nepal from the despotic monarchical system to the current Federal Democratic Republic. The first movement finished off the autocratic rule of the Rana family in 1950; then the despotic non-party system called Panchayat in 1990 and finally the dictatorial monarchy in 2006. Many brave Nepalis have sacrificed their beautiful lives for bringing such a political change.

Nepalis have elected the most inclusive Constituent Assembly-cum-parliament on April 10, 2008 following the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007. The Constituent Assembly is for writing a new people’s constitution, and for working as a parliament for functioning a government. The Interim Constitution has set the life of the Constituent Assembly two years and in case of an extreme situation, the possibility of extending its life for six more months.

On May 28, 2008 (Jyestha 15, 2064), the first session of the Constituent Assembly has declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic and has downgraded Gyanendra Shah from the status of a king to an ordinary citizen and has given him a notice to leave the Narayanhiti palace within fifteen days. On June 7, 2008, Gyanendra Shah left the Narayanhiti palace for the Nagarjun resort. Before leaving the palace he held a press conference and then left the palace late evening. He has pleaded the government for making him available the Nagarjun resort for his temporary stay.

The following is the chronology of completing the process of setting up Democratic Republic of Nepal. On June 15, 2008, at the function held at Narayanhiti, the then-Prime Minister-cum-head-of-state Girija Prasad Koirala hoisted the national flag there and then inaugurated a national museum in it. On July 19, 2008, elections for the President and Vice-president were held. Vice-president was elected but none of the candidates for President could garner the require votes in the first round. On July 21, 2008, the second round of the election for president was held, and Dr. Ram Baran Yadav got elected to the first President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. On July 24, 2009, Subash Chandra Nemwang was elected to the Chairman-cum-Speaker of the Constituent Assembly-cum-parliament unanimously. On August 15, 2008, Maoist Chairman Prachanda got elected to the first Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal with overwhelming votes in the parliament. Thus, the formation of Democratic Republic of Nepal has been completed politically.

The Constituent Assembly has declared Nepal a federal democratic republic of Nepal. However, Nepal has to go a long way before being the federal democratic republic in the real meanings of these words.

First of all Nepal needs to write a new constitution with the provision for a number of autonomous states for making Nepal: the federal State of all these autonomous states or provinces.

Some so-called constitutional experts and political leaders have been campaigning against federalism. They put forward the contention of Nepal breaking into pieces if Nepalis adopt federalism. However, they have no valid reasons for justifying their argument. They have refused to understand that the Shah dynastic rule has come to end because of the centralization of the administration. So, if Nepalis do not go for federalism they would need to face the political turmoil and possibly the disintegration of the state.

Republic means ‘a country governed by elected representatives of its people’ according to ‘The American Heritage Dictionary’. However, the Nepalese parliament has voted Madhav Kumar Nepal for the position of Prime Minister on May 23, 2009 despite he being the loser of the elections held on April 10, 2008 for the Constituent Assembly-cum-parliament in two constituencies. His party has appointed him to be the Member of Parliament recalling the most sincere member Sushil Chandra Amatya of the CPN-UML.

Either Nepalis have understood the meaning of ‘Republic’ differently or the Nepalese parliament has overstepped the meaning of ‘Republic’ electing Madhav Nepal to Prime Minister if we take the real meaning of ‘Republic’ as stated in the dictionary.

Similarly, many so-called constitutional experts have interpreted the President’s writing of a letter to the Chief of Army Staff by passing the government as the constitutional disregarding the provision made in the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 for the President requiring getting the recommendation of the Council of Ministers to deal any state matters with anybody.

The most unfortunate thing is even the 1990-constitution-making committee members such as Laxman Aryal and Nilamber Acharya have publicly said that the Presidential action is constitutional. It is no wonder that the constitution crafted by such so-called constitutional experts have hard time to survive even for fifteen years of its full life.

Nepal has many remnants of the monarchical system of the past despite declaring Nepal a Republic.

First of all, the current national flag of Nepal is the symbol of the remnants of the monarchs of the lunar and solar dynasties. The half moon at the center of the first triangle and the sun at the center of the second triangle of the two triangles of our flag have been representing the lunar and solar dynasties respectively of the Licchavi monarchs.

We have seen the first President of the so-called Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has followed the dress code set by former monarchs since he became the President. Similarly, the Chairman-cum-Speaker also has been following the footsteps of the President and has never taken off the uniform the former monarchs have prescribed for themselves. We have seen even the Vice-president also has followed the dress code of the monarchists. The Vice-president has provoked criticism from many people for rightly taking the oath of office in his mother tongue and wearing the dress of his fellow citizens.

If all five dignitaries such as President, Vice-president, Prime Minister, Chairman-cum-Speaker and Chief Justice standing at the Nepal Army pavilion at the function of celebrating the first anniversary of Republic Day on May 29, 2009 have worn the dresses of their fellow citizens of Nepalis would have been the symbol of the inclusiveness of the governing body and Nepalis would have felt some changes have come but unfortunately all of them looks like micro-kings standing differently from the common folks.

These are the two most visible remnants of the past monarchs.

The political remnant of the past monarchical system has been seen in the behavior of the four political parties such as Nepal Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML), Tarai Madhesh Democratic party (TMDP) and Nepal Sadbhavana Party. On May 29, 2009, they have jointly recognized the team of the MPRF under the leadership of Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar for joining the coalition government of NC and CPN-UML. This act has been similar to someone from the above calling on the members of the so-called apex body of Panchayat for selecting someone favored by the monarch for the position of Prime Minister. They have simply followed such instructions in the past. In the present context, it is the shame on all those four political parties to intervene in the affairs of another political party of equal standing. It has been the mockery of democracy.

The so-called democratic NC party has been more undemocratic than other political parties in its internal party affairs. The recent event has been that neither the parliamentary party nor the Central committee of the NC could decide the persons to be sent for joining the government led by Madhav Nepal. These two party institutions being unable to decide this crucial matter of selecting persons for the ministerial jobs has authorized the President to do the job of these two institutions.

Nepal has been a federal state in the name only so far whereas it has been really a republic disregarding the few remnants of the past regimes. Some political experts argue that it is natural to have such remnants of the past during this transitional period. Federalism will also be a reality after the crafting of a new constitution.

June 6, 2009.

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