Unique peace model nears conclusion

- John Narayan Parajuli, Kathmandu

Nov 21, 2016-

As the parties mark the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that brought an end to the decade-long armed conflict and ushered in an era of peaceful politics, key leaders reflect on the success of the process and mistakes that could have been averted.

“Our peace process has been largely successful,” said Barshaman Pun, Maoist leader and a key interlocutor during the peace process. “But in areas such as transitional justice and socio-economic transformation, much remains to be done.”

Pun points out the declaration of republic, the drafting of the constitution by the Constituent Assembly and management of the arms and armies on both sides of the conflict as the key achievements.

In many ways, progress on other aspects of the peace process hinged on the success in managing the erstwhile rebel army. Yet Nepali actors chose not to follow a typical UN modality of managing armies first or even sequencing the peace process. The UN-supported peace processes have followed a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration modality for the management of arms and armies.

“In Nepal we did the opposite,” said Balananda Sharma, former coordinator of the Army Integration Special Committee Secretariat that advised and assisted the political actors in addressing the fate of the Maoist combatants. The armies were put in 28 cantonments and duly recognised as equal to the state forces.

Contrary again to the UN sequencing of the peace process elsewhere, Nepali actors chose to hold the elections to the Constituent Assembly—another key milestone of the CPA—while the rebel armies remained in uniform in cantonments. There were speculations as to why the late Girija Prasad Koirala agreed to such sequencing.

There are suggestions that Koirala in fact gestured then-CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the rebel leader, to inflate the number of Maoist combatants—as deterrence against any potential move by then-Royal Nepal Army and King Gyanendra Shah.

“And that’s why our peace process is different,” said Sharma, referring to home grown modality. “Eventually, we addressed the fate of the two armies.”

But the issue of Army integration has been a sore point within the Maoist parties. There is general consensus within the Maoist factions that the issue was poorly handled by the party leadership. Even former Maoist commanders say the rigid stance taken by the party on the numbers initially and mixed messages on the rehabilitation package, as well as the failure to address the fate of those deemed “disqualified” by the UN verification process, have left a significant number of former combatants deeply disillusioned.

“We made many mistakes initially when we insisted that all the combatants should join the Army and shun the severance package,” said Chakrapani Khanal Baldev, the former Maoist commander who is the current chief political adviser to Prime Minister Dahal. “Even if the 6,000-8,000 combatants that the Army was willing to take in had been integrated, the situation would have been different today.”

The writing of the constitution by the CA was another key milestone. But it came five years later than promised and after two elections. The constitution is still being contested by some sections of the society.  “The CPA itself was exclusionary in nature. It did nothing to address the issues of Madhes,” said Laxman Lal Karna, co-chair of the Nepal Sadbhawana party, a constituent of the Madhesi Morcha that has been agitating against the exclusionary provision in the constitution. “As long as the demands of Madhes aren’t addressed, Nepal’s peace process will remain incomplete.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi echoed a similar sentiment. 

Addressing a conference on the 10th anniversary of the CPA, organised last week by the Nepal Transition to Peace Institute (NTTPI) in Kathmandu, he said that amending the constitution would complete the peace process.

But some key Maoist leaders disagree on the measure of success.

“The commitment expressed in the CPA has only been partially fulfilled and a lot remains to be done,” said Dev Gurung, a senior Maoist leader known for his strong ideological stance in the party--referring to the absence of a tangible socio-economic transformation of the country. Gurung and many other Maoist leaders focus particularly on Articles 3 and 5 of the CPA. Article 3 promises socio-economic and political transformation, inclusion and affirmative actions to make an end of the exclusionary character of the state while restructuring it. Article 5 focuses on transitional justice and healing the wounds of the conflict.

“The key objective of the CPA was to end fighting, heal conflict wounds and restore public trust,” NTTPI Chairman Daman Nath Dhungana, a key facilitator of the peace process, said last week. “The war may have ended from the point of view of killing and violence, but the door for lasting peace hasn’t opened yet.”

While PM Dahal, the CPN (Maoist Centre) chairman, told a television programme last week that there has been “qualitative improvement in the nature of politics” in the last decade, he has admitted earlier that with the benefit of hindsight, things could have been done differently.


November 2006: 

The government signs a peace deal with the Maoists, ending the decade-long war

    April 2008: The Maoists sweep the country’s first Constituent Assembly elections

    May 2008: Parliament votes to abolish the monarchy and declares Nepal a secular republic

    August 2008: Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal is sworn in as prime minister of a coalition government

    May 2009: Dahal resigns, following a row with the Army over the reintegration of former rebels into the military

    May 2010: Parliament votes to extend the deadline for drafting the constitution, the first of four such extensions

    November 2011: A breakthrough deal is signed to integrate 6,500 former rebels into the national Army

    May 2012: The constituent assembly is dissolved after failing to 

produce a draft constitution

    March 2013: Khil Raj Regmi, chief justice of the Supreme Court, is appointed head of an interim administration to oversee the second Constituent Assembly elections

    November 2013: The Nepali Congress wins the elections, pushing the Maoists into third place

    April 2015: Nearly 9,000 are killed and thousands left homeless when a devastating 7.8M earthquake hits Nepal, followed by a 7.3-magnitude aftershock in May

    June 2015: Rival political parties sign a historic agreement on a new constitution, ending years of deadlock

    September 2015: Parliament adopts the new constitution despite calls to delay the process after deadly protests erupt across the country

    September 2015: Border points blocked in protest against the constitution, which Madhesis say denies them adequate representation in Parliament

    February 2016: The border blockade ends, allowing trucks to cross for the first time in nearly five months

    August 2016: Maoist chief Dahal is elected as prime minister for the second time after striking a coalition deal with the Nepali Congress

    November 2016: Dahal promises amendments to the constitution by the end of the month ahead of the 10th anniversary of the peace deal


10 years of CPA

-    Elections for two constituent assemblies

-    Abolition of monarchy and establishment of republic

-    Peaceful management of the arms and armies

-    Beginning of the process to transform unitary state into federal

-    Beginning of the process to restructure the state and devolve power

-    Inclusion a key directive principle of the constitution the downside

-    Failure to provide justice to conflict victims

-    Failure to accommodate all sections of the society in the new constitution

-    Over 4008 former combatants who have been left high and dry

-    Prolonged transition

Published: 21-11-2016 08:13

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