• Term and age limits should be placed on political leaderships

Jul 10, 2014-

  The CPN-UML has been completely preoccupied with its General Convention for weeks now. Most of the news from the party is focused on the dispute between Madhav Nepal and KP Oli. There have been stories about clashes between groups of cadres and of disagreements, both ideological and personal. Amidst all this noise has come a surprising bit of information. One of the UML’s senior leaders, Bharat Mohan Adhikari has announced his retirement from active politics. In most countries such information would be of little significance. After all, Adhikari, born in 1936, is an elderly figure in Nepali politics and at an age when retirement has long been due. In Nepal, however, this bit of news has something about the unexpected about it. Hardly any politicians have voluntarily given up politics in this manner. In fact the tendency here is to stick to power no matter how enfeebled one is, as long as one possesses the minimum ability to move and speak.

Adhikari’s case should serve as an example to leaders of all parties, including his own. It should serve as a reminder to all that parties in Nepal, dominated as they have been for decades by the same individuals, who have stifled innovation and prevented young talent from rising up the ranks. At the same time, senior leaders in power have often been ineffectual. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala is a case in point. He owes his elevation largely because he belongs to the Koirala family and is a senior Nepali Congress leader. Not surprisingly, he demonstrated lethargy and inaction after he became the prime minister. He seemed to have completely lost the leadership plot once he became the prime minister. And now that he has gone off to the US for medical treatment, the government is adrift. Although things look calm on the surface, various contenders for power are no doubt plotting their moves. This situation could have been avoided had there been regulations in place that forced elderly politicians to retire.

In this context, the recent amendment to the UML’s party statute, which states that all leaders have to retire from their positions at the age of 70, is appreciable. But this is not enough. It will hardly serve to resolve the various problems associated with having the same people in power for far too long. All major parties should start thinking about amendments to their statutes that restrict the time that an individual can remain in a particular position. For example, no individual should be allowed to contest the party leadership after he or she has already served in that position for, say, a period of two terms. Similarly, no individual should be allowed to become prime minister for more than a set period of time. Such reforms would contribute substantially to improving the quality of Nepal’s democratic process.



Published: 10-07-2014 07:59

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