Photo by the Globe and Mail: Egyptian soldiers celebrate with civilians.
A more positive possibility to open the gate to democratic rule and political and socio-economic transformation has emerged in Egypt following the resignation of Hosni Mubarak who ruled the country for over 30 years continuously as a president.
"We are the great people; we have done something great. This is what every dictator can expect." This is what the global media have quoted from the Egyptians celebrating their triumph over the 30-year long Mubarak rule following an 18-day long mass political movement concentrated on the exit of Mubarak and the guarantee of a public-spirited democracy. Excited are the peoples of the globe; they have taken it as a point of inspiration towards a better society. Equally positive are the Nepalis towards these Egyptian phenomena because they have always been for democracy and against autocracy. The Nepalis in 2006 had celebrated their victory in almost the same way, except for firing guns done in Egypt now. They had defied the autocracy-imposed military curfews by continuously taking to the streets up to 19 days; the autocratic royal regime succumbed to the people's power. Had it not done so, the people were preparing to storm into the royal palace.
The Egyptians have felt that they are free from the Mubarak regime, unable to deal with people's poverty, corruption and ill-governance. They have achieved a moment for finding a better political leadership that could combat the ills and discrepancies existing in their society. The Nepalis, too, had realized that they were free from the puritanical and feudalistic rule that always reinforced poverty industry, corruption and ill-governance.
At the moment, the Egyptians have displayed their jubilations, full of emotions and delightful tears. This is the moment for their free ventilation. Before the departure of Mubarak, they had been exploding their frustrations and wrath. After the departure, they have been expressing their elation. This is a style of human nature. An unprecedented level of people's solidarity is seen in the streets of Egypt. A similar people's solidarity was seen among the Nepalis in 2006, the beginning of the new era marked by the surrender of autocratic monarchy, later abolished by the elected Constituent Assembly in May 2008.
At the moment, Egypt's state television, the core media of Mubarak's government, has got a U-turn now. It has been covering Egyptian people's jubilant celebrations across the country. Nepali rulers' media Nepal Television and Radio Nepal had done the same thing in 2006.
Egypt's celebrity Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has termed the departure of Hosni Mubarak as the "the greatest day" of his life. He is yet to prove that he will surely work for the majority of working class people in Egypt. In this context, there are some history-taught negative lessons from Nepal for the change-seeking Egyptians, including ElBaradei and other leaders.
The Nepali ruling class guided by the then royal palace did their best to preserve the monarchial system marked by the puritanical characteristics of feudalism and conservatism with consumerist market-driven showbiz but in vain. After it had become clear that the groundswell protests of the majority of the working class masses would in no way get softened through military and lolling strategies, the elites changed the tactics and accepted the agenda of the Constituent Assembly (CA) for drafting a newly structurable constitution. This is how the Nepalis got silent over the then King's decision to reinstate the dissolved House of Representatives.
When the Nepali political forces agreed on the Maoist rebels' agenda of drafting a democratic constitution through the people-elected Constituent Assembly (CA), this became an epoch-making achievement of the people's movement in Nepal. The Nepali Congress (NC), the Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) and other parties had continuously resisted this 60-year old agenda of drafting a full-fledged democratic constitution. They had always stood in favor of a nominees' draft of constitution. As they were compelled to accept the agenda of people's constitution (not rulers' private constitution) it became possible for Nepal to have a people-elected CA for the first time in the Nepali history. The demand of the CA itself was most powerfully mandated by the overwhelming majority that took to the streets for about three weeks. Later on, the democratic CA elections directly monitored and reported by thousands of American, European and Asian election observers further reinforced the CA.
Moreover, the 601-member CA in Nepal consists of multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-ideological communities among whom a considerable number of women are its elected representatives.
The 18-day movement in Egypt proves that the people in any country are the supreme force ultimately mandating the operations of political and socio-economic apparatuses. At different points of history, such change phenomena have come up with the use of collective and public conscience.
But the 21st-century people, seeking full-fledged democracy, must understand one bitter reality that disguised democrats grab the opportunities developed by the people's uprising, and later divide and betray their followers. This has happened in most of the developing countries, including Nepal. It may happen in Egypt too.
When the hereditary Rana rulers departed from the political scene due to the mass uprising accompanied by armed insurgency and mutinies in the 50s in Nepal, many had believed that people would be the final decision-makers in democracy and development. But the historical evidence of these 60 years has proved that the same privileged ruling class has still ruled Nepal, barring the majority of people from the opportunities of political and socio-economic transformation. This was the major cause of the 10-year long Maoist People's War that officially ended through the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) signed between the Maoist rebels and the Nepal government on 21 November 2006.
The CPA promises political and socio-economic transformation of the Nepali society through a new constitution and state restructuring under a federal democratic republican model. However, the Nepalis still fear a fierce confrontation, even a protracted civil war, between the conventional political forces that have de facto resisted the implementation of change agenda and the forces that have grounded their politics on change agenda. The implementation of CPA-promised transformation agenda means establishing the former Maoist rebels in the long-term politics of Nepal while nearly displacing those who have actually isolated the former rebels so far. The emergence of the former Maoist rebels as the largest political force in Nepal has propelled the other parties to adopt countering strategies. Hence the threat to the process of drafting a new constitution that is already overdue by seven months. Quarrels continue between the Maoist and anti-Maoist alliance regarding the ingredients of a new constitution.
So long as the monarchy existed, both Maoists and its opposing forces made it the common target to strike it. After the common target (monarchy) fell down, both the Maoists and anti-Maoist alliance of 24 parties are confused as to whom to strike. The most complicated process of political polarization is going on in Nepal.
The abolition of the deep-rooted autocratic monarchy was a superb achievement of the people's movement in Nepal, the reason being that the 21st-century Nepalis would not get an opportunity to transform their lives scientifically and democratically. Individual-centered rule would never be a democratic option.