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Nepal peace process: PLA handover to government-led committee and challenges ahead

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However, the Nepalis must be optimistic and cooperative regarding the current peace process. There are certain foundation elements for becoming optimistic and cooperative as to the success of the ongoing peace process.

The CPA in its preamble stands for the Nepalis' mandate for democracy, peace and progress. The CPA has considered not only the people's anti-monarchy movement in April 2006 but also numerous historical and ever-going struggles since 1951. Standing on this basis, the peace process stakeholders, in the CPA document, have expressed their determination to carry out a progressive restructuring of the state with a view to fruitfully addressing the existing problems resulting from class, caste, regional and gender discriminations. All parties have time and again expressed their commitment to empower and mainstream ethnic minorities.


For the peace process to succeed in Nepal, it is compulsory for the stakeholders to concentrate on implementing the CPA point 3, which states about the political, economic and social transformation to manage conflicts. The conflict between the Maoists and their opposition parties is the major conflict yet to be managed. This is the major curriculum of the ongoing peace process.


Likewise, stakeholders need to implement the documented provision of progressive state restructuring (CPA 3.5) through a new constitution in order not to let the peace process derail. The existing privileged rulers themselves are the chief barriers to state restructuring because they fear their sweep from their hereditary ruling space. For this reason, confrontations may result in the process of implementing the peace agreement provisions.


Since Maoists have joined the mainstream peace process by depositing their arms and fighters in the cantonment on condition that their agenda be addressed productively in the new federal-republican constitution, the Nepalis are not likely to be happy with a constitution that is similar to the previous one. In this context, the CPA is progressive as it includes the major ingredients for the overall transformation of the Nepali society. But the mindset of the peace process stakeholders does not appear as progressive as they need to be. Their continuous struggles focus on government formation has overshadowed the fundamental agenda of the peaceful transformation of the Nepali society.


More challenging in Nepal's peace process is how to democratize the Nepal Army (previously known as the Royal Nepal Army). Long-trained in feudalistic traditions with overwhelming loyalty to an individual--the King traditionally considered as an incarnation of Lord Bishnu, the Nepal Army requires time and patience to transform itself. However, the mindset of the major peace process stakeholders can be a chief determinant for the rapid democratization of the government defence force. The instance of defiance by the former Army Chief Rookmangud Katuwal against the elected government leadership in 2009 is enough to understand how tough it is to democratize and transform the monarchy-brainwashed leadership of the government army.


Equally important in making the peace process successful could be the political parties' exercise to overcome their own prejudices, misperceptions and ill-culture of superficial speech-based politics instead of morally accountable and research-based work.


In conclusion, it would be logical to state that the PLA handover to the government-led Special Committee can ease the process of integrating and rehabilitating the former Maoist rebels. It would be harmful to misunderstand or exaggerate the handover because the stakeholders of the peace process have not yet agreed on the modalities of integration and rehabilitation. There are undoubtedly external players of regional and global nature, who will also influence the future course of plans and actions. Should the domestic players be honest and large-minded to change Nepal better, the transformative agenda set in the CPA and the Interim Constitution will not prove dead.


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