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FES Nepal in the Press 2008

Yadav calls for change in country’s foreign policy <Top>

Kathmandu, Dec. 23 - Minister for Foreign Affairs Upendra Yadav has emphasised the need for Nepal to bring about changes in the country’s foreign policy and make necessary adjustments in it in the changed context.

Yadav said that achieving a broader consensus on foreign policy issues, and fulfilling commitments towards peace, democracy, human rights, rule of law and other internationally accepted values and making socio-economic transformations were some of the major challenges that needed to be considered seriously.

He expressed the view while speaking at the opening session of a two-day national debate on ‘Foreign Policy of New Nepal: Challenges and Opportunities’ organised by Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA), in association with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in the capital on Tuesday.

He also stressed the need for strengthening the institutions formulating foreign policy and dealing with new and emerging issues in an effective manner. "We should deal with issues such as changing dynamics of international relations, international terrorism, climate change, globalisation and financial uncertainty and promotion of national interests," he added.

He further said that the country needed to be very cautious and wise while choosing appropriate strategies to achieve the objectives set in foreign policy and enhance the nation’s prestige keeping geographical and geo-economic realities in view.

Addressing the function, Foreign Secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya said that foreign policy needed to preserve national interests and territorial integrity and norms and values related to global affairs.

Acharya stated that the new foreign policy should help contribute to the economic development of the country and check the impacts of international crises like the global recession on the national economy.

Prof. Dr. Gopal Prasad Pokharel, Executive Director of IFA, said that the parameters of Nepal’s foreign policy had been guided by the lofty ideas enshrined in the UN Charter, the Panchasheela, the principles of non-alignment, world peace and respect for international laws.Prof. Pokharel expressed the view that Nepal’s ushering in a new era of peace and stability following the April Movement would have positive impact on the country’s foreign policy apparatus.

On the occasion, Deputy Executive Director of IFA Anjan Shakya pointed out the need for a more effective new foreign policy to protect and promote the country’s interests.

Source: The Rising Nepal (24 December 2008)


Yadav roots for foreign policy on ‘broadest possible consensus’<Top>

Himalayan News Service
Kathmandu, December 23:

Changed political context forms the basis.

The government was committed to espouse foreign policy on the basis of ‘broadest possible consensus,’ Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav said today.

Minister Yadav, addressing a workshop organised by the Institute of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with FES, said, “The shaping of nation’s foreign policy in accordance with the expectations of the Nepali people is a must to maintain the present changing context”.

He maintained that the effective handling of emerging issues, such as dynamics of international relations, international terrorism, climate change, globalisation, financial uncertainty and promotion of interests should also be taken as the priorities of the foreign policy in the present context.

Meanwhile, presenting a paper on complexities of Nepal’s foreign policy,’ Dr Shambhu Ram Simkhada said Nepal should endeavour to further enhance its relations with developed countries and explore its bids for the rotating membership of the UN Security Council or the presidency of the UNGA. He further said that the nation’s foreign policy should emphasis on the promotion of trade, tourism, employment, investment and technology in order to achieve the goals for economic prosperity.

Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat in his paper entitled ‘Forging a national consensus on foreign policy and building effective institution’ suggested building consensus on the foreign policy based on clearly articulated national interests, consensus on system of governance, maintaining good relations with two neighbours, Nepal’s enhanced role in the UN through participation in its peace keeping force, safeguarding the interests of Nepali citizens abroad, promoting trade and investment interests, national ownership on use of foreign assistance, strengthening and empowering foreign ministry and its missions be the focus of Nepal’s foreign policy in the present political context.

Political scientist Dr Gopal Pokharel said the country’s foreign policy decisions should clearly reflect the public aspirations for freedom, dignity, choice and measures of the government to adapt changing international situation.

Source: The Himalayan Times (24 December 2008)


Foreign policy should not change with govt <Top>

POST REPORT

KATHMANDU, Dec 23 - The foreign policy of the country must not change when a new party forms the government since the way the country deals with the world has to be in the interest of the state, experts said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a two-day seminar organised by the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA), speakers demanded that the parliament prepare basic guidelines for the country's foreign policy in the new political context.

"We must rise above petty political interests and dogmatic fetishes for the sake of vital issues of national interest," said Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav. "The government is, and will remain committed to ensuring the broadest possible consensus while formulating the foreign policy."

He stressed the need to shape foreign policy in the new political context to achieve maximum benefit from the international community.

CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal said the government must give a fresh look at foreign policy, identify agendas and make its stand clear.

"Foreign affairs is a serious and sensitive issue. So we must take a national stand on agendas related to this issue," he said.

Rawal also said as the country had entered the republican era, the government must not abide by treaties imposed by monarchs on the country. This is the most appropriate time for the government to review all bilateral and multilateral treaties, he said.

However, Nepali Congress leader Dr. Prakash Chandra Mahat charged that CPN (Maoist) was misusing foreign policy for the benefit of the party.

"The Prime Minister is following King Mahendra's line of playing with differences between India and China," he claimed. "This policy is dangerous and is not in Nepal's interest." He also said the easy access to the prime minister and ministers that foreign diplomats get from the government is against diplomatic protocol.

Maoist foreign department Chief C.P. Gajurel said his party supports maintaining equi-proximity between India and China. He also said there is a big problem in implementing this policy as India is reluctant regarding this policy.

Even though Gajurel was absent in the programme, the organisers had distributed a working paper titled "Foreign Policy in Nepalese Perspective" prepared by him.

In the paper, Gajurel has said the idea of "special relations" between India and Nepal must be discarded without any hesitation and the mentality of Nepal being sandwiched between India and China must be given up while developing a new foreign policy that corresponds with the new Nepal.

Former diplomat Shambu Ram Simkhada said the historic friendly relations with China and India must be taken to a new level of trust and confidence in the new political context.

Speaking at the programme, Foreign Secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya said, the government must be proactive for greater national interest in the global context. He also said maintenance of best relations with immediate neighbours is important geopolitically and strategically.

Source: The Kathmandu Post (24 December 2008)


Telegraph Seminar on Nepal constitution making process <Top>

TGW

The Telegraph Weekly/Telegraphnepal.com in close cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (Germany) is organizing a seminar today December 17, 2008, on the topic of “Democracy and Peace building in Nepal: Role of Media in Constitution making process.”

Mr. Mark Larsen, the Public Affairs Officer, US embassy in Nepal, will be the chief guest of the seminar.

The Telegraph Weekly is a long term partner of the FES (Germany).

Two highly academic working papers by Mr. Chandra Dev Bhatta- a Phd Candidate and Supreme Court Advocate Satya Mohan Joshi-Tharu will respectively be presented on the occasion initiating academic debate on the said topic from the attending participants comprising of galaxy of senior journalists and noted academicians from Nepal.

Dr. Rabindra Khanal (Political Science Department, TU) and Senior Economist Dr. Hari Bansh Jha will chair the two sessions and will shed light over the topic.

Professor Ram Kumar Dahal (Political Science Department, TU) and Mr. Poshan K.C the General Secretary of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists( FNJ) will also share their views during the inaugural session along with senior journalist Narendra Prasad Upadhyaya (Chief Editor Telegraph Weekly) and Dev Raj Dahal (Chief FES-Nepal).

Source: The Telegraph Weekly ( 17 December 2008)


Parliamentary system has failed: Dhungana <Top>

Prominent civil society leader and former Speaker, Damannath Dhungana said parliamentary democracy had failed to deliver and the country should now switch to the presidential form of government.

Lending his support to what the Communist Party of Nepal -United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) has been saying of late, Dhungana said, the executive power must be vested in the president. He also endorsed that the Maoist view point that parliamentary system of democracy has failed to deliver.

He however, added that the country cannot go back to authoritarianism or dictatorship of the king or the political parties and stressed, that chapter is over. He asserted the system the country should follow must have values of liberal democracy.

"I am in favor of direct election of the president who could be someone held in high esteem by the hills and Madhesh, Dalits and ethnic groups as well as minorities and women. Such a person who could attract support from all sides, and who could truly be seen as the hope of an aspiring nation should be the president," Dhungana said while speaking at a workshop on 'Constitution making and Judicial reform.' The workshop was hosted by the Administrative Court with the support of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a German Political foundation that promotes liberal democracy across the world.

"It has been proved that parliamentary system of democracy has not worked in Nepal. With 25 political parties, small and big in existence in the constituent assembly, political stability may not be possible to achieve. We must rethink about the political system that we must adopt," he said. "We must look for the system that best guarantees political stability which is necessary for international cooperation."

Dhungana was also in favour of review of the electoral system. "Somehow, I feel that only those directly elected by the people during the election to the constituent assembly represent the voters….Given the character of the leadership (of political parties) and the 'bossism' they exhibit, I think those nominated under the proportional representation system only represent their leaders. Each leader has had certain quota allotted to them and they chose to send their loyalists," he said.

Dhungana who was the speaker of the first parliament (1991-93) also felt that the pro-democracy forces must unite as the left parties; mainly the Maoists and the UML were consolidating their alliance.

Source: Newsfront (1-7 December 2008)


Nepal constitution demands consensus on key issues <Top>

TGW

The Administrative Court of Nepal and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal Office organized a high level two-day, November 28-29, 2008, seminar on "Constitution-Making and Peace."

Altogether 150 persons participated the seminar proceedings.

The attending participants of the seminar argued that six key issues—nature of federalism, model of democracy, electoral system, forms of government, independence of judiciary and process of national unity--must be decided before the drafting of the constitution begins.

When only 15 percent of people of Nepal have access on the justice system, there is a need to introduce democratic reforms without compromising its independence.

Inaugurating the seminar, Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal said, "For the first time I’m am addressing such an eminent gathering of the country converged in one place.

We should work together to consolidate the rights of people, increase their access in the justice system and stabilize the nation's political future through sustainable people process”, PM Dahal added.

He also launched the FES prepared book on "Building Modern State and Constitutional Questions."

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Kedar Prasad Giri added, "We are ready to make the justice system responsive, transparent and accountable. But, the reform measures should not be infected by partisan biases."

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Dev Gurung expressed the need for reform in various institutions including the judiciary so that justice becomes speedy to the people.

Five papers were presented on the theme prepared respectively by Justice Min Bahadur Rayamjhi, Kashi Raj Dahal, Chairman of Administrative Court of Nepal, Dr. Surya Dhungel-Advisor to President, Daman Nath Dhungana- Former Speaker of Parliament and Madhav Ghimire, Secretary, Ministry of Reconstruction and Peace.

Chief-Secretary, Secretaries, Judges of Supreme Court and Appellate courts, Constituent Assembly (CA) members, former speaker of the parliament, advisors to the President, spokesperson of Nepal Army, Attorney -general, Chief of Judicial Council, President of Nepal Bar Association, and political leaders also interacted at the seminar .

The reporter of the seminar, Joint Secretary of CA prepared the main points discussed, such as ownership in the constitution, institutionalization of federal democratic republic, independent, transparent and accountable judiciary, state restructuring, coordinating mechanism between federal states and peace building measures. Participants demanded to give continuity to the constitutional talk like this one in various parts of the country. The elaborated finding will be disseminated among CA members.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly ( 30 November 2008)


Nepal Party Leaders demand Inner-Party Democracy <Top>

TGW, Pokhara

Sagarmatha Multiple College, CeLCAR and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung-FES-together organized a national seminar on Inner Party Democracy in Nepal” on 27 November, 2008, in Pokhara.

Over 80 party leaders, Constituent Assembly members, youth wings, and civil society leaders attended the seminar to discuss about inner party democracy in Nepal.

Dev Raj Dahal, presenting his key note address said, "inner-party democracy helps to democratize the functions of leadership and party structure.

“It is, therefore, considered as a vital precondition of a functioning democracy. In transitional democracies like Nepal, a broader political environment in which political parties are formed lack sufficient institutionalization and, therefore, suffers from weak transparent and accountable regulatory mechanisms and leadership styles. The terminal gap between preaching and practice has disillusioned the voters about party leaders' rise to governmental power, created credibility gap and shifting loyalty of cadres and voters from one political party to another at a mass scale. This has made political sphere highly unstable and conflict-prone and negotiation of a legitimate social contract difficult, Dahal, the FES Chief said.

Dahal added, "One cross-party conflict resolution mechanism is needed to avoid split and enforce party laws; institutionalization of specialized committees in the parties is another area; and organization of regular dialogue on public issues including civil-military relations is still another area for policy attention." The irony of Nepali politics, however, is this: despite vibrant press and civil society, democratic consolidation of public institutions is low. This may be attributed to the deinstitutionalization of political parties and institutionalization of patrimonial culture in the state and public sectors. Dahal argued, "Too much party-mindedness must not be allowed as it saps the people's spiritual and creative energies for moderation, reconciliation and peace."

Civic education based on enlightenment values and principles is essential to expose the supporters and cadres of party to deliberation, shared understanding, compromise and consensus and reduce the element of militarization of society. The debate on internal-party democracy informs the existing challenges the Nepalese political parties are facing in fostering civic culture and the support they require from the international community in becoming civic-minded, open, inclusive and effective representative organizations of society.

Three papers were presented during the seminar by Khagendra Prasai, Ghanashayam Bhusal and N. P. Saud and were commented by Purushottam Dahal, Hari Sharam, Som Prasad Panday, Khag Raj Adhikari, Yubraj Gyawali, Bhavani Pande, Tikaram Bhattarai and others.

The floor discussion sparked brain storming debate. The participants argued the “need for inclusiveness of party building”.

Women participants demanded more women representation in the party's various committees including central committees.

Others demanded democratic schooling in the party, still, others on fair recruitment of party officials. Only cultivated citizens are capable of active participation in democratic politics and make leaders accountable for their actions.

Some participants suggested that this debate should be brought to national convention of every party and the new constitution must incorporate special chapter on political parties.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly ( 28 November 2008)


Interaction on security <Top>

The Nepal Former Police Association (NEPA) and Saugat Legal Research and Consultancy (SLRC) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal held an interaction programme on National Security, Civil Security Relation and Security System Reform in Nepal in view of nation's current pretext.

At the programme, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam acknowledging the concern of the former employees of the security wings over nation's security praised them for showing concern. Key guest Gautam said that the national security policy was defending the independence, integrity and sovereignty of the nation. Minister Gautam said that it would not be rule of law if impunity were granted to law violators.

The programme was held under the chairmanship of NEPA president and former General Inspector of Police DB Lama. FES Nepal Chief Dev Raj Dahal said that the reminiscent of the former war was giving birth to new conflicts in the nation. He said that the interaction would focus on how can a common citizen gain security and how can the security personnel provide security to its citizen.

At the programme, former police senior inspector and advisor of the Association Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha gave welcome remark.

Shrestha presented a working paper on Areas of Security System Reform in Nepal while Dr. Govinda Prasad Thapa presented the paper on Relation between civil society and security sector.

The programme was participated by all the parties representing the Constituent Assembly, Ministries, Security units, Heads of Departments of Tribhuwan University, diplomats, former security officials, civil society among others.

Source: People's Review (20-26 november 2008)


Nepal must have its own security policy: Analysts <Top>

TGW

“Nepal's security is linked with its sovereignty, national integrity, national independence and unity of people. In the changed context a coherent national security policy is needed to avoid external encroachment and internal turmoil”.

Read the words bit by bit chosen by the Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam for his address to a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES, seminar held November 16, 2008.

Doesn’t it tally exactly what the Maoists ministers, for example, Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal and K.B. Mahara have been sounding of late?

Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam has told nothing new, however, what he has told is the truth and truth only.

We need a new security policy which safeguards what the home minister says, “sovereignty, national integrity, and national independence and promotes unity among the people”.

A close look at the words calculatedly taken up by the minister does amply hint that Nepal is confronting challenges on how to keep its national sovereignty in good stead?

He, in saying so, also hints that since there were threats to Nepal’s sovereignty, national independence and territorial integrity and thus the urgent need for a new coherent security policy.

The minister, however, remains tight lipped as to where from such threats to Nepal originated? Who is playing foul with the age old unity among the Nepali populace?

A food for thought for the Nepali intellectuals indeed.

Defense minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal saw the need for a new security policy for his country only after he made a formal trip to China. Is it that the Chinese encouraged the Nepali minister to go in for a new security policy? Was this a Chinese brain? Who else better knows than defense minister Badal himself.

Be that as it may, the need for a new security policy is the demand of the time. What others say or how others will take the very idea of a new security policy as suggested by ministers like Badal and Gautam should not be a matter of Nepal’s headache.

What is very significant in the messages contained therein, both of the ministers Badal and Gautam, are similar if not identical. The gist is same.

Both the ministers conclude that Nepal must remain prepared for the preservation of its sovereignty, national independence and national integrity.

Minister Gautam’s remarks have come close on the heels of the likelihood of a high level visit by the high flying officials of Chinese Liberation Army which will be followed soon by the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister itself.

The crux of the matter is that, better late than never, Nepal has now come to its senses and begun talking sense.

Analysts conclude that Nepal is free to chart its own policy as regards its security concerns. It is high time that the entire population becomes sensitive in this issue that has a direct bearing upon the very existence of this country as a nation-state.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly ( 17 November 2008)


Need for Coherent National Security Policy: Experts <Top>

TGW

Nepal Ex-Police Association and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a one-day national high-level seminar, November 16, on "National Security, Security-Sector reforms and Civil-Military Relations." Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam inaugurating the seminar said," Nepal's security is linked with its sovereignty, national integrity, national independence and unity of people. In the changed context a coherent national security policy is needed to avoid external encroachment and internal turmoil. Rule of law means that crimes of whatever nature are penalized. Only then citizens feel secure."

Head of FES Nepal Dev Raj Dahal said, "Institutionalization of civil-security relations is important for a coherence and synergy of the tasks assigned to security and law and order-related institutions. This helps to improve the conditions of freedom of people from fear and prevent the rise of militarism occurring at societal (armed groups, militant youth wings and radicalism in political party) levels." Dahal added, "Rectification of the defects of democracy and democratization of security agencies must be accompanied with formulation of national security doctrine, institutionalization of dialogue and regular identification of sources of threat by various stakeholders of society; strengthening of National Security Council through interdisciplinary team of experts coordinated by Defense and Home Ministries who can also inform about early warning of fault-line conflicts and suggest measures for early response. Mutual appreciation of each other's roles and responsibilities between civil and security forces is crucial for the construction of a post-conflict Nepal and build a shared, peaceful future."

Former Chief of Police B. B Lama stressed to need to boost the morale of security agencies, provide political support to them to abolish the culture of impunity existing at various levels of society and provide them autonomy while discharging responsibilities. Three papers were presented during the seminar by Dr. Bharat Rayamajhi, Brigadier-General (Rtd) of Nepal Army, Dr. Govind B. Thapa AIGP (rtd) of Nepal Police, and Dr. Chuda Bahadur Shrestha on various themes pertaining to security. These seminars were chaired by Prof. Sridhar K. Khatri, Mr. Surya Prasad Shrestha and Former Lt. General Krishna Narayan Singh Thapa. The presentation was followed by discussion by participants. Altogether 150 persons from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, training department of these agencies and related ministries and representatives of 25 political parties participated in the seminar.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly ( 17 November 2008)


Leadership talent is what Nepal needs: Experts <Top>

TGW

A brain storming but yet a healthy debate commenced today in Kathmandu among and between the noted academicians, intellectuals, political personalities and media men who expressed their respective views on the topic, “ New Dynamics of Conflict in Nepal: Challenges and Opportunities”.

The Nepali luminaries criss-crossed the prevailing political trends and advised the men handling the affairs of the State to provide adequate attention to the marginalised population or else the new political change might boomerang in some way or the other.

Some even told that the politics of the past were still put in practice by some political quarters and that such politics will only invite chaos and uncertainty which could provide space for the emergence of some other conflicts in the future.

Nevertheless, the intellectuals were of the opinion that with the new political change, if opportunities were abundant then the challenges were also equally Himalayan ones.

Book launching by former speaker Daman Nath Dhungana on “The Role of External Actors in Conflict and Peace Management in Nepal”; Author Dr. Bishnu P. Poudel, USA“Wisdom would demand that the available opportunities must be tapped for the development of the country and the politicians must take up the associated challenges with renewed vigour by adapting to the politics of consensus and unity”, they noted.

Setting the tone of the seminar of the CETS( Center for Economics and Technical Studies) , Dev Raj Dahal-the head of the Nepal Office of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, said in his welcome address that “ the diversity of approaches adopted by constitutional actors to many issues of public interest and concern has set a new dynamics of conflict in Nepal among the three set of political parties-the actors in government comprising of six ruling parties led by the Maoists, the opposition parties led by the Nepali Congress and a host of other parliamentary parties out side the government structure”.

Dahal says, “Deeply rooted internal factionalism within each party has made the government a survival oriented than being an innovative one so far as the public demands of common good and collective future are concerned”.

The FES chief further states that “All that Nepal needed at the moment was on how to promote mutual adjustment between transitional justice and peace and mediation of change in the distribution of values in the society”.

He laments by saying that “the agreements are not implemented in a state of nature when rights to liberty and property are often encroached, social mobility is restricted and self-preservation becomes the major stake”.

Former Foreign Minister of the erstwhile Panchayati era, Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya said that “Every conflict had some reason underneath and the political wisdom demanded to go deep into finding the root causes for the conflict”.

He, however, expressed his displeasure over the manner the country’s politics was being taken up by the new managers of the State.

He says, “change has come indeed but not for the people…for some political creatures only”.

He, however, rejected the notion that federalism was bad for a small country like Nepal. Instead, the system of federal structure, says Upadhyaya, will enhance the aspect of nationalism wherein each and every people can claim that this is my land, my culture and my tradition.

“Federalism is needed to uplift the local culture which opens the gate of vast opportunities at the local level”, adds Upadhyaya.

Mr. Upadhyaya says that the new political change if has brought opportunities then it concurrently is attached with Himalayan challenges as well.

Delivering the key note address on the occasion was a Nepal born American citizen, Professor Bishnu Poudel who dwelt at length on how Barak Obama got elected as the new President of the United States of America.

“Leadership talent is what counted and Obama had this quality in abundance”, he said.

Obama, during his election campaign, added Poudel, assured the American population that he will act as an “agent of change” and a fully assured American citizen voted him to power.

In the context of Nepal, Prof. Poudel advised that change can be brought if one refrained from three Cs: condemnation, criticism and complaints.

Former Speaker of the Nepal Parliament Daman Nath Dhungana-the chief guest of the inaugural session of the CETS seminar-said that “politics of the bygone era is still prevalent in the country, however, what has changed is just the cover”.

“The same dismissed and rejected political traits could well be seen dominating the politics of the country even today”, Dhungana continued.

Dhungana lamented that the new political change ushered in the country has so far not reached to the common people back in the remote villages and the inaccessible mountains.

He, however, lauded Obama’s victory as the next US President and says, “Obama’s emergence in the US politics with a big bang was in itself a big change ever recorded in the history”.

According to Mr. Dhungana, “the state runs only when all the major actors agree to proceed together in the nation building task”.

The executive director of the CETS, Professor Dr. Hari Bansh Jha thanked all the attending participants.
The two day national seminar will have altogether six working papers by eminent Nepali scholars and media men.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly ( 12 November 2008)


Nepal population debate on Future of Nation at FES seminar <Top>

TGW

The public of Dhunche, Rasuwa district , a Himalayan district of Nepal, debated, October 24-25, 2008, about the nation's future in an open space.

This district has 50,000 population and 32,000 voters. Over one hundred thirty participants came from government circles, NGOs, political parties, civil society, students, teachers and people's institutions.

They were concerned not only about their local problems but also expressed concern about the delay in drafting the constitution of the nation, contradictory statements being made by various leaders about the integration of CPN (Maoist) combatants into the National Army, lack of consensus on the concept of federalism, weakness of the national leaders in addressing the question of transitional justice and many other post-conflict issues.

Ethnic people attending the program demanded the inclusion of the rights of various categories of people, such as indigenous group, Dalits, Women and minorities, in the new constitution to be drafted.

They also demanded proportional representation of diverse people in the district and central committee of national political parties.

One blind participant Prativa Lama suggested that pejorative words about disabled should not be included in the new constitution, appropriate laws should be formulated for Nepalese women workers in Gulf and women's access to decision-making should be ensured. Purba Tamang questioned as to whether the qualification of politicians at the national level be determined. He was also suggesting about financial transparency of political parties and their leaders. Devi Kala, Baburam Shrestha and Jayanti Ranabhat discussed about the ways to insert democratic values in the constitution. Bulk of participants furnished a number of suggestions, such as disseminate the constitutional debate in villages, capacity building of women and illiterate, linkage building with national NGOs and INGOs, strengthening state-society relations and performance of governance in resolving multihued conflicts.

Three paper writers—Kashi Raj Dahal, Chandra Dev Bhatta and Dev Raj Dahal respectively presented their papers on state-building, constitutional questions and principles of democracy. Speaking from Chair Chief Justice of Rasuwa Rishi Prasad Adhikari said, "We are defining our future. What is challenging for us is how we can make our future peaceful, prosperous and coherent out of so many social, economic, cultural and political diversity."

The seminar was organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (28 October 2008)


State capacity eroding <Top>

KATHMANDU, Sept.21: Speakers at an interaction Saturday called for strengthening the state mechanism to lead the existing peace process to a logical end.

Speaking at the interaction on ‘Building Sustainable Peace: A Situation of Ongoing Conflict in Nepal’ jointly organised by National Media Development Center, Nepal (NMDC-Nepal) and Fridrich Ebert- Stifting, Nepal (FES-Nepal), they stressed on effective implementation of the different agreements including Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the government with different actors and forces.

Presenting a paper on the topic, Dr. Saubhagya Shah said as the state capacity was gradually being eroded, individual political parties and groups were becoming stronger.

"When these practices are generalized and normalized, what will emerge is not a civil or liberal but a muscular democracy not very accessible or particularly friendly to the poor, excluded, or the marginalized," Shah who is also the programme coordinator of Conflict, Peace, and Development Studies of Tribhuvan University said.

The enfeeblement of the Nepali state, both internally and externally, will be a major handicap in ensuring successful conflict transformation, political transition, and democratic consolidation, he added.

"Some of the worrying signs are the ongoing arms race among the political parties in setting up of and mobilization of youth squads framed around the parliamentary concept. After the Maoist set up the YCL, the UML launched its own Youth Force, and the NC has followed suit with Tarun Dasta who function as shock troops by employing coercive and intimidatory tactics. By taking the law into their hands, these units often substitute for the state’s legal process. The recent skirmish between the home minister and the land reform minister in Siraha is a case in point."

FES-Nepal Head Dev Raj Dahal said, "Sustainable conflict resolution could only be founded in an inter-subjective framework that includes ‘the other’ and shapes the emergence of a shared community."

It required finding optimal space for all the actors of conflict system—actual, potential and left out—and establishing a dynamic balance of their interests in the political system, he added. "In such a balance, all horizontal and vertical actors become aware of their systemic ties and take each other’s perspective into account in socialization, decision-making and collective action."

Presenting a paper on ‘Media: the fast track to change, peace’ expert Ram Krishna Regmi said, "As an important pillar of the state the media has to be effortful in building positive opinion through fair flow of information about the restructuring of the state and making provision for federalism."

Source: The Rising Nepal (22 September 2008)


Experts worry about country’s future <Top>

Himalayan News Service
Kathmandu, September 20:

Academicians said today that law and order should be maintained and society transformed to ensure lasting peace.

Addressing a seminar on “Building sustainable peace in a situation of ongoing conflict in Nepal”, political scientist Dev Raj Dahal said, “With a shaky law and order situation, Nepal can turn into a failed state.” He also said armed groups were continuing to pose threats because the state has been unable to restore peace.

Dahal said the interim constitution was not clear on some issues, including federalism.

Presenting a paper on “Conflict transformation and democratic consolidation: A Nepali post-conflict?” Dr Saubhagya Shah said the country was heading into a multi-polar conflict scenario with the weakening state unable to handle different groups.

Journalist Dr Ram Krishna Regmi presented the paper on “Media: The fast track to change, peace”. Referring to the conflict in the Tarai and ethnic groups’ demand for federal states, Regmi said, “Another multi-dimensional conflict will grip the country if the demand is not met and efforts are not made to put an end to violence.” Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal stressed the need to work out peaceful solutions to the country’s problems.

Peace and Reconstruction secretary Madhav Ghimire said only economic and social transformation can bring about lasting peace.

Source: The Himalayan Times (21 September 2008)


Dealing With External Influence <Top>

C. D. Bhatta

A few weeks back, this scribe had the privilege of publishing an article on external intervention and the Nepali state in this daily (August 12). After that, this writer visited Arghakhachi and Kapilvastu districts as part of a state-building project of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a German Foundation in Nepal. During the two-day discussion in Sandhikharkha of Arghakhachi district, this author, as well as other team members, had to face a barrage of questions on issues related to foreign policy and external intervention.

Crisis of nationalism

Out of approximately 40 questions asked by the participants in Sandhikharkha, more than 75 per cent were on external intervention or influence, mismanagement of foreign policy, border encroachment, unequal treaties with neighbouring countries and the like. Similarly, in Kapilvastu district, out of the 45 questions asked, a fair number of questions were focussed on the crisis of nationalism.

Moreover, many participants were also concerned about India’s (inexplicit) reservations on Premier Prachanda’s recent visit to China, and some of the participants even said that the agenda of ‘federalism’ was floated by external actors by coaxing the Nepalese political parties. The participant(s) said that bilateral treaties were not honoured by Nepal’s immediate neighbours and blamed the political leaders of the country for despising its citizens while signing treaties with India. They were also of the view that frequent disintegration and integration of Nepalese political parties were done at the behest of foreign players to meet their vested interests.

This is a rural voice, voices that represent the broader national as well as public interest, and hence holds water. The empirical evidences received thus indicate that there is a crisis in foreign policy, which is the main cause of external intervention or influence in Nepal. Prachanda et al must have heard this rural voice whilst preparing to wage the Maoist insurgency, and this could be the reason, among others, why Prachanda became so critical about Indian expansionism and American imperialism and vowed to fight against them. Though it would be too early to make any sort of conclusion on Prachanda’s official foreign policy as he is yet to visit India, it appears that Prachanda is also melting down (with the passage of time), and external intervention on the Nepali state continues unabated.

Against this backdrop, the challenge that we have got, at the moment, is how to get rid of this crisis that is being witnessed on the foreign policy front, which is posing a serious threat to national sovereignty. What we need, therefore, is to craft a rational foreign policy that can balance the imbalances and maximise the benefits and minimise the risks. But the question is who will craft this ‘rational’ foreign policy when our political leaders, political parties and think tanks are influenced by external actors and donors? The answer is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the state.

The foreign policy of a country usually comes either from the executive head of the state or government of the state (executive). Though there are provisions of having a foreign ministry, a foreign minister and other officials, the CEO of the state has the prerogative to command the country’s foreign policy. All others are agent(s) who operate and sign on behalf of the chief executive officer of the state. The CEO can take advice from experts in the field and disseminate it to the agents for its execution.

But in a country like Nepal, there is neither a culture of hiring experts by the political leaders nor knowledgeable and competent ‘secular experts’ who can guide the CEO and defend national interest. We also have not developed the culture of involving and informing citizens (the real stake holders) on issues related to foreign policy. As a result, foreign policy, like other policies, on many occasions, has become anti-public and anti-state as majority of the people feel cheated either by the political leaders (as in the case of the Mahakali Treaty and the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 with India) or by the foreign actors (as in the case of Gandaki and Koshi agreements).

Therefore, what is needed is a paradigm shift in the traditional method of conducting foreign policy. We have to involve track II actors (such as civil society members) and track III actors (stake holders and citizens at large) on discussions related to foreign policy and informing citizens while signing treaties with neighbouring countries and others (as some treaties in the past were signed either due to ignorance and or under influence) . We also have to develop a civil society network in the country that could work to control unabated land encroachment from Kalapani to Susta. These networks should initiate their work both with the Foreign Ministry and the neighbouring country and across the people living in the bordering areas.

Broader public diplomacy

That said, a broader public diplomacy is needed so that we can have a fair say in the treaties and other issues. For this, either we have to establish a public diplomacy cell at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or we need to develop coordination and cooperation between the Foreign Ministry and the Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA). Equally important is the non-politicisation of the IFA as well as in the appointment of ambassadors (on the basis of political lineage). Perhaps by doing this, we can lessen the gravity of external influence.

Source: The Rising Nepal (6 september 2008)


Journalists’ struggle for press freedom unfinished: Dahal <Top>

KATHMANDU, Sep. 5: A three day-workshop on ‘Building Union Capacity for Human Rights and Conflict Reporting in South Asia’ began Thursday.

Organised jointly by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung-Nepal (FES-Nepal) and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the workshop aims at building capacity of journalists for media rights monitoring and networking in the region, FES-Nepal head Dev Raj Dahal informed.

Delivering his welcome speech, Dahal underscored that the unmet basic needs of the bulk of citizens and lingering fear and violence in South Asia indicated that human rights struggle of media persons for freedom, justice and social opportunities remained unfinished.

The ability of the media to understand structural condition of the region, the root causes of conflict from varied perspectives, reflection on conflict experience, analysis of the conduct of numerous actors of society in conflict and peace, and presenting those in an impartial manner to the wider public could play a very important role in reconstructing the condition of structural injustice, Dahal added.

Jacqueline Park, Director of the IFJ Asia Pacific, presented an overview of work in the past two years, networks and campaigns for press freedom, safety and democratic media in the region.

The information provided by IFJ affiliates and partners in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka suggests that these countries, all transitional societies in various ways, pose serious professional hazards for journalists.

A total of 25 journalists from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan are attending the workshop.

Source: The Rising Nepal (6 September 2008)


Outside actors should help in capacity building: FES-Nepal Chief Dahal <Top>

TGW

A constitutional state is grounded in the holistic vision of people about their rules of governance. Any stabilization of post-conflict situation involves several important considerations—election to understand the relative strength of political parties and legitimize political issues, processes of constitution drafting especially addressing the model of the head of state, nature of democracy, mechanism to devolve power, rehabilitation of conflict displaced people and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, national reconciliation and rule of law.

These and many other issues were debated in a two-day seminar organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung at Arghakachhi (August 23-24) and Kapilvastu (25-26). These seminars involved 142 and 182 participants respectively from various sections of society—Judges, administrative officers, Nepal Army, police, representatives of political parties, civil society and people's institutions. Addressing the meeting Justice of Arghakachi district P. P. Dhakal said, "We must make an informed choice in constitutional making so that we don't have to repent in the future for our hasty decision." The Chief District Officer (CDO) of the district B.P. Parajuli encouraged the participants to learn more from the resource persons and ask relevant questions pertinent to their public life. Justice Sekhar Paudel argued that educated persons should be alert and often inform their representatives and the ordinary people as to how their engagements can be meaningful in constitutional discourse aimed at shaping the collective vision.

CDO of Kapilvastu, Ram B. Raya stressed on the creation of egalitarian society through national self-confidence, national unity and peaceful coexistence of all the stakeholders of society. Chief Justice of the district Lekh Nath Regmi argued that the universal features of democracy should be critically debated before incorporating them into Nepal's constitution. Participants of the district mainly asked questions about transition management, state restructuring, federalism, autonomy of judiciary, educational policy, social justice to the marginalized groups, political culture, capacity of leadership, local self-governance, service delivery, economic policy especially about the modernization of agriculture, foreign intervention and sustainable peace.

In both the seminars Kashi Raj Dahal, constitutional expert, explained the basic constitutional questions to be addressed in Nepal in the future. Chandra Dev Bhatta, Ph. D. scholar at LSE explained the main principles of democracy and the role of civil society in the formation of public political culture.

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES, explained the key elements of constitutional state, role of state in governance, complexity in peace building and sustainable development. He said, "Outside actors should help in the capacity building of Nepal in stabilizing the state, improving state-society relations and fostering the conditions of sustainable social contract and peace process." A culture of mutual accountability, rather than mutual accusation, is central to strengthen democracy and good governance in Nepal, concluded Dev Raj Dahal.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (31 August 2008)


Nepal: Political education comes under fierce discussion <Top>

TGW

Beni, Myagdi, August 5-6: A two-day program on "State Building and Constitutional Questions" in a remote Myagdi district brought 165 intellectuals, political leaders, government officials, civil society and private sectors in an intense discussion. Behind the façade of high mountains and rough road of Kaligandaki peoples of multihued culture and politics were gathered to debate about the nation's political and constitutional future. Intellectuals in Kathmandu hardly imagine that inhabitants of such remote area can fiercely debate about contemporary politics of Nepal and furnish concrete suggestions to national level politicians.

"Like in the US and Turkey, we must have the right to keep national flag at our home," thundered one participant. Other claimed that Nepalese people must struggle to retain their right to food sovereignty. Still, other detested the notion of national deconstruction for shaping the collective vision. Navraj Sharma suggested the need to train national leaders on public policy. One participant asked how we can call our polity democratic when youths and women are still underrepresented. Amrit Baniya argued the necessity of endorsing only those international conventions which the state is capable of fulfilling. This liberates politics from false promise.

The chief justice of Appellate Court of Baglung Tarka Raj Bhatta speaking as the chairperson of seminar suggested that management of transition politics in Nepal requires the establishment of rule of law, abolition of impunity, protection of constitutional and human rights and a clear articulation of peace policies. He said, "The new constitution must forge integration and accommodate the diversity of the nation." Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal underlined five themes for the management of post-conflict society like Nepal's—election to legitimize the transformed politics through constitutional means, stabilize authority as a mode of conflict resolution, increase the level of institution-building in order to absorb new groups, devolution of power to local governance institutions, formation of national identity and reconciliation measures for peace.

Chandra Dev Bhatta argued that civil society is constituted in a democratic public sphere to serve the public interest. Privatization, denationalization and deregulation of this sphere have weakened the power of Nepalese to shape public opinion, will-formation and public policy. Intermediary institutions have a great responsibility to educate the public about constitutional needs and strengthen public life in Nepal. Lawyer Nara Kumari Gurung expressed the need for special program for women on constitutional niceties. "The constitutional discourse itself is a mode of democratic mode of conflict resolution as it integrates multiple perspectives and helps to build consensus on the rules of governance" said Dev Raj Dahal, Head of Nepal office of FES. The seminar was organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal office.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (9 August 2008)


UML supporting Multi-province: Pokharel <Top>

CPN-UML chief of Information Department Ishwar Pokharel stressed that journalism is the mixture of ideological commitment and professional integrity. Therefore, without ideological commitment, professional journalism will not foster. While addressing at the inauguration program of a seminar titled "Role of Media in Constituent Assembly" jointly organized by Press Chautari and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung on Friday in Birgunj, Pokharel said, "some political parties claim to be advocating for press freedom but in practice they do the opposite. But then we do have to appreciate press freedom which is standing with commitment for nation, nationality and democracy."

Pokharel added, "Maoists are now saying that all parties have put them in trap but this is not true. They wanted to be alone because they are still the victim of their feudal thinking, utilitarian propensity and autocratic approach."

"But we are not making them alone because of this," Pokharel repeated.

"Even if Maoists are alone from all sides they have not yet stopped threatening and demanding like a child and now they have come up with 3 point demand," Pokharel said. But UML will always be trying to move our country ahead looking for a common platform of understanding.

Therefore, Mr. Pokharel cleared that, UML is always supporting multi-province and is against one Madesh one province, one Pahad one province."

Also in the inaugural session, central chairman of Press Chautari, Mr. Sambhu Shrestha said that until and unless our leaders change their character and behavior, the formation of new Nepal is not possible.

Dev Raj Rimal, central member of Press Chautari chaired the session. Other members are: Balgopal Thapa - Narayani zone committee member - CPN-UML, Gagan Bista - central general secretary of Press Chautari, top journalist Kishor Shrestha, Kesh Mahesh Dahal from Federation of Nepalese Journalist, Dr. Jainuddin Ansari from National Medical College, Babujan Ali - central vice chairman of Nepal Muslim Itehad Organization), Dipendra Chauhan from Press Council, Satrughan Nepal - Chairman, Federation of Nepalese Journalist, Parsa, Chairman of Press Chautari Parsa, Raghav Shah, former chairman K. C, Lamichane and Sanjeev Mishra, Madesh Media Mission, Parsa also shared their news at the inaugural session.

The second session focused on "Role of Media in Constituent Assembly". Sambhu Shrestha, Chairman of Press Chautari and Mahesh Das (Central member of Federation of Nepalese Journalist) presented a paper. While presenting his paper, Mr. Shrestha said that the media should play a vital role to strengthen the nation, nationality and national integrity in the new constitution. "Nepalese citizen should be aware of the fact that, in the name of Madesh, Indian agents are playing games to split the country," said Mr. Kishor Shrestha while commenting on Mr. Shrestha's paper. He also gave examples of many countries in the world which was divided because of giving rights on ethnic basis. Mr. Ganesh Basnet stated that media should be alert as the country is in crucial stage. Participants from different districts presented their opinions in the seminar.

Translated by Samira Paudel

Source: Drishti (29 July 2008)


Experts fear of chaos <Top>

By a Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, 24 July

Political and constitutional pundits expressed fear that the Constituent Assembly (CA) could get entangled into mathematics rather than adopting consensus politics, which could be a setback for democratic practices.

"The CA members can go for number games once they finish writing new constitution for new Nepal upholding the democratic norms. As the Interim Constitution, which is only a temporary one, it has been made a mandatory constitution, may create obstacles while drafting a new constitution," they said.

Presenting a paper on "Content of the Constitution and Federalism', legal expert Kashi Raj Dahal said that as per the democratic process the gradual procedure of election and drafting constitution was required in order to end the ongoing political transition but the process was not adopted by the Nepalese CA members. He said that instead of forging consensus, the CA members were weighing up majority and minority game.

He said that over 195 countries had been practicing the constitution and as witnessed only those that kept fundamental rights of people in the centre had been successful.

He pointed out that the modern principle of constitution accepted rule of law, protection of fundamental rights and respect for the people, responsibility - based government as per people's mandate and comprising law and order, power balance as the main law of the country.

In the context of Nepal, the new constitution to be formulated by the CA should encompasses the proper management of judiciary, elections, citizen's rights, executive power and legislative power. These powers should focus on presidential system rights, state model, inclusive democracy, election procedure and national unity.

Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Nepal Dev Raj Dahal said that CA members' focus was on consensus, inclusiveness, federal state structure and secularism but there was no uniformity in the consensus process and implementation. He said that still there was difference regarding the subject in federalism, state head, economy and management of Maoist combatant.

He pointed out that currently lack of law and order, corruption, and diverting the country towards language, religion and caste basis was consistently driving the country towards the failure of government, and the responsibilities of CA members remained crucial to make improvements to the fragile state power unity, competitive violence, brittle morality and failure n attaining state objective.

He said that in order to render a successful government, the social, political and economic power should be balanced corresponding with people oriented politics, permanent peace, social economy, state structure, social unity, good governance and balanced foreign affair policy.

The two-day workshop was organized by FES-Nepal.

Source: The Rising Nepal (25 July 2008)


Constitution should be drafted according to people’s aspirations <Top>

Thimi, Bhaktapur July 23-24

“The sovereign power of the state lies with the people. The new constitution should be drafted as per their wish and aspiration” said constitution expert and the chairman of Nepal Administrative Court, Kashi Raj Dahal.

Presenting his paper on Building Modern State and Constitutional Question in a seminar organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung he added that the constitution must be drafted within two year to get international legitimacy. The process and contents of constitution are important. To him, the contents should involve individual sovereignty and fundamental rights of people, independent and impartial judiciary, popular sovereignty, separation and checks and balances of power and values and norms of democracy.

Presenting his paper on Modern State Building head of Nepal office of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung highlighted the possibilities and challenges. In the seminar representatives of political parties, civil society, teachers, lawyers, media persons and various social groups were represented.

Source: Gorkhapatra daily (25 July 2008)


Nepal’s Constitution should reflect aspirations of people <Top>

TGW

"The sovereignty of people presupposes that people must be conscious about their rights and responsibilities. Post-conflict situation requires election for the legitimacy of change, formation of transitional government, transitional justice and reconciliation process and elimination of violence from the political process”.

“Making of constitution with the full ownership of people means,” said constitution expert Kashi Raj Dahal “institutionalization of the democratic political process in the country.”

Presenting his paper on Building Modern State and Constitutional Question in a seminar organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung he added that the constitution must be drafted within two years to get both internal and international legitimacy. The process and contents of constitution are important. To him, the contents should involve individual sovereignty and fundamental rights of people, independent and impartial judiciary, popular sovereignty, separation and checks and balances of power and values and norms of democracy.

Presenting his paper on Modern State Building Head of Nepal office of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Mr. Dev Raj Dahal highlighted the possibilities and challenges of the Constitution Making Process in the days ahead.

Mr. Dahal added that only a strong state can dispense justice in the society, perform basic governance functions and muster the loyalty of the people.

In the seminar 111 representatives of political parties, civil society, schools, colleges, legal professions, media and various social groups took part in the meeting. Evaluating the seminar many participants argued the need to expand the coverage of such seminars to rural areas.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (25 July 2008)


FES-Nepal seminar: “Democracy Building” discussed <Top>

TGW

Chautara, Sindhupalchowk, July 8-9: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Nepal office organized a two-day seminar on "Initiative about Democracy Building: state building and constitutional questions" at Sindhupalchowk where 170 participants took active part in constitutional discussion. Chairing the seminar district judge Mahesh P. Pudasaini said, "The future constitution should reflect the aspiration of entire Nepalese and seek the stability of the state-society ties through popular legitimacy." Dev Raj Dahal argued, "If politics increases the cost on the tax-paying citizens by bloating the size of politicians they might become either non-political or even anti-political. Politics as a vocation should serve the public interest and resolve all political conflicts in society. It should not become a burden for citizens."

Another Speaker Kashi Raj Dahal argued that consensus is required on a number of key questions—"election for the head of state, nature of state, democracy, concept of federalism and unity in diversity. National pride strengthens the concept of statehood and subordinates primordial loyalties of people." Chandra Dev Bhatta explained universal elements of democracy and the necessity of their application in Nepal. He made a clear distinction between the voluntary sphere of civil society and projectization of NGOs and expressed anxiety over the fusion of business, political and civil society in Nepal and neglecting the notion of public good.

Chief District officer, local development officer, election officer, army officials, armed police force, party leaders, civil society members, Dalits, business leaders, local government officers and religious people viewed that the seminar of this nature should be organized regularly to instill civic responsibility in citizens. Participants recommended taking such seminars at the village level for consciousness building so that people feel that sovereignty springs from bottom up and reconciliation supports the reconstruction of peace and progress. One male and one female participant evaluating the seminar said that it has good impact on social transformation.

Source: The Telegraph Weekly (16 July 2008)


Demand of one Madhes province against past pact with govt: UML <Top>

Kathmandu, June 30

CPN-UML general secretary Jhala Nath Khanal on Monday said that the demand of Madhesi leaders of incorporating autonomous ‘One Madhes One Province’ in the Fifth Amendment Bill was against the agreement signed in February 2007 with the government.

"The whole Madhes cannot be a single province as there are so many cultural, linguistic and geographical diversities even in Madhes. It cannot be in harmony with the aspirations of Madhes minorities," he said.

Speaking at a press conference organised in the party headquarters Balkhu, he asked the Madhesis leaders to solve the dispute through negotiations rather than regular disruption of the Constituent Assembly (CA) meetings.

"They have been stalling the CA meeting regularly and it is a misfortune for the country as the crucial business of forming the new government is delayed," Khanal said adding, "All the agreements cannot be incorporated in the constitution. These are political issues and will be solved through political discussions."

He, however, noted that his party was in favour of multi-province but would strongly stand against the demand of declaring whole Madhes as single province. He also said that the CA would be left without businesses if all the important issues were to be incorporated in the constitution before writing the new constitution.

Meanwhile, General secretary of the CPN-UML Jhala Nath Khanal Monday claimed his party’s role in convincing the CPN-Maoist, which carried with it a legacy of a decade long armed struggle, to sign the 12-point agreement and join the peace process through a series of dialogue.

The holding of successful elections to the Constituent Assembly (CA) and abolition of the 240-year long monarchy were the twin victories of the people. Both of which have paved the way to liberate the Nepalese at large, Khanal said.

Khanal was speaking at an interaction on ‘Future Strategies of Trade Unions in the Federal Democratic Republic Nepal’ organised by Nepal Trade Union Federation.

Appreciating the role of trade unions in the process of abolition of monarchy and re-establishing democracy, he said that the workers should be more conscious about their rights and duties while drafting new constitution and making a new Nepal.

"More than 60 per cent leftists’ representation in the historic CA has proven that the Nepalese people want radical social change. The left forces have to shoulder the challenges that have surfaced in the nation and lead it towards change and progress." Khanal added.

He argued that the constitution making process would remain incomplete without co-operation among CPN-Maoist, CPN-UML and Nepali Congress, as the three parties held a two-third majority in the CA. "The demand of ‘One Madhes One Province’ raised by the Madhes based political parties, is illogical and unjustified which may disintegrate the nation. There should be multi-provinces in Terai, mountainous and Himalayan regions."

Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung -Nepal (FES-Nepal) Dev Raj Dahal said that the workers should be actors and implementers of the policies, rather than being mere consumers.

"The more the trade unions become competitive the more they can uphold their rights in the changed context. The trade unions should contribute to the democratisation process, the process of making the country more inclusive and achieving lasting peace."

Source: The Rising Nepal (1 July 2008)


Politics of confrontation can weaken CA: Dahal <Top>

JANAKPURDHAM, June 17: Speakers at a talk programme organized here Monday by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung have said the people's wishes and expressions can not be reflected in the constituent Assembly (CA) built arithmetically, while drawing attention that the country should not be made a laboratory of constitution-making.

Speaking at the talk programme on "Modern State Building ad aspects of constitution", legal experts informed that some 42 countries of the world have made the constitution as per the CA process.

The countries mainly successful in this are Italy, Norway, South Africa, Venezuela, India and Columbia.

Chief Judge of the Appellate Court Bhola Kharel said the CA should play a responsible role as a best alternative for making constitution from larger people's participation.

Judge Giriraj Paudel said constitution should be made to guarantee the rights of all as the constitution is the roadmap of the constitutional forces of the state.

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal said formulating constitution as per the loktantrik norms is not enough but it is needed to develop a culture of politics as per it. Chief of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Dev Raj Dahal sad the CA can be weak because of the politics of confrontation.

Source: The Rising Nepal (18 June 2008)


Discussion on Building Modern State <Top>

Janakpurdham-June 16. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) initiated two-day discussion on building modern state and constitutional questions. Head of FES Dev Raj Dahal highlighted the works of FES and presented his paper on building modern state. "The future constitution should include the views and concerns of rural people" said Bhola Kharel, appellate court judge of Janakpur. Chief Justice of Appellate Court Giri Raj Paudel said, "Constitution is drafted to legitimize political issues. It should therefore include the concerns, interests and aspirations of all classes of people." The constitution is not to be drafted frequently. It should reflect the long-term aspiration of people. "In a post-conflict Nepal the drafting process must be reflective of the opinion of Nepal's social and cultural diversity," said Kashi Raj Dahal. He added, "The current deadlock of political parties over the selection of president does not give message to the people because leaders see ever thing from numerical point of view. Nepali Congress leader Digambar Roy said that people's trust over politicians is declining because of their self and family-centeredness. So many kings have emerged after the abolition of monarchy. In this condition how can we build modern Nepal? Leader of Dalit and janajatis Bipti Mandal argued that we have to focus on serious problem of federalism, the problems of agricultural economy and participatory constitution-making process. The discussion was lively as many people asked questions and passed their comments.

Source: Simanchal (The only Maithili Language Daily) 17 June 2008


Modern state agenda, contents of constitution under discussion <Top>

BARDIBAS, June 15: A Two Day Talks Programme on 'Building Modern State and Contents of Constitution' kicked off in Jaleshwor today.

At the programme, constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal presented a working paper on 'Building Modern State and Contents of Constitution' while FES Chief Dev Raj Dahal presented on 'Building Modern State: Possibility and Challenges' and Chandra Dev Bhatta on 'Fundamental Principles of Democracy'.

Chief District Officer, Netra Prasad Sharma and media person Gopal Baral expressed their views in the inaugural session of the seminar.

The programme has been chaired by Mahottari District Judge Daya Nanda Kharel.

Altogether 131 people including representatives of various political parties, legal practitioners, teachers, professors and civil society have participated in the programme.

Source: Gorkhapatra Daily (15 June 2008)


Nepal: Participatory Constitutional Discussion Sparked off <Top>

Dhulikhel, Kavre May 23-24. Over 160 political leaders, civil society members and the attentive public of Kavre district favored participatory process of constitutional making in the country. They expressed this in a two-day seminar on "Building Modern State and Constitutional Questions" organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Kathmandu office as a part of its ongoing constitutional awareness debate. The local public articulated their concern as to how the voices and visibility of grassroots needs are reflected in the Constituent Assembly. Many of them expressed anxiety about their elected representatives as to whether they will come back from Kathmandu to collect their legitimate suggestions and include them into the technical committees of the Constituent Assembly (CA) for reasoned debate and consideration.

Women participants were particularly concerned about strengthening the political competence of women CA members in the various committees of CA, others wanted to know the importance of cultural rights of minorities in a secular and federal state. Participants viewed that as long as the culture of impunity prevailed in the country and law dominated by partisan politics, there is no way to build modern state.

"The balance of power approach to constitutional process, therefore, does not foster durable peace and development", the participants observed.

Chief Guest of the seminar Judge of the District Court Prakash R. Mishra said, "The beauty of modern state is that it serves the people in various ways from cradle to grave. The future constitution of Nepal should be brief, inclusive and visionary."
The Chief District Officer Kabi Raj Khanal speaking on the occasion stressed the need to "set up guiding principles before drafting the constitution".

Presenting his paper Dev Raj Dahal said, "Modern state alone can fit together the diverse interest of society, muster legitimacy and resources, fulfill people's freedoms and propel this post-conflict nation into a peaceful future." To him, the future challenge of Nepal is to bridge a gap between legitimacy and performance of the government so that the political transition from the fatal fault line conflict and gridlock to constitutional state reconciles the cracks of society and enables to resolve the problem of collective action.

K. R. Dahal, noted constitutional exert, shared the constitution making experience of Germany, India, South Africa and India, the multi-stage negotiation processes and methods of sorting out differences.

Source: The Telegraph weekly (28 May 2008)


Constitutional debate commenced <Top>

BY OUR REPORTER

Bidur, Nuwakot, May 16-17: The intellectuals, political leaders and civil society members of Nuwakot district expressed various social, economic and political measures to build a new Nepal. They argued that drafting a democratic constitution in the country requires inclusion of contesting visions, voices and views of all the segments of Nepali society. Long-term and shared vision of the people can be mediated by regular public debates, rational agreement on key public questions such as head of the state, nature of democracy, political system, ecological, social, economic, political and foreign policies, and proper distribution of powers among the various institutions of governance. They viewed that law-abiding government, political parties and citizens alone can protect the culture of human rights and abolish prevailing chaos in the country.

Speaking from the chair district judge Krishna Prasad Banstola said, "Mere floating various concepts in the public is not sufficient unless they are implemented to change the life of the people for the better. In the transition phase of politics, justice should be fostered at the various levels of society so that conflicts can be contained and losers of the political game have faith in the future." Similarly, Chief District Officer Bhanu Bhakta Pokherel stated that constitutional debates are essential to educate the public about the issues and build their informed choices and opinions on political affairs. Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal while presenting various models of constitution, such as the US, Indian and German stressed that constitution basically legitimizes the political ideology of the nation. Since Constituent Assembly election in Nepal has produced a fractured mandate recently, politicians of all hues must evolve a politics of compromise and consensus. What is essential is to develop unsentimental understanding about national issues so that social cohesion contributes to collective future of Nepalese people.

Dev Raj Dahal, head of FES Nepal office, presenting his paper on building modern state, needs and challenges of Nepal argued that modern state is based on civic political culture which transcends the particularisms of the nation's prevailing caste, class, region, religion and ethnic affiliations. Civic spirit is the product of rationalistic and humanistic culture as it tends to balance freedom and order, rights and responsibilities and aspirations and institutions. Nepal has to foster the conditions of modernity in various areas, such as education, technology, economy, organization and leadership and steer the nation's transition from post-conflict peace building to participatory democracy. Modern politics ought to be based on ideology rather than biology. He furnished five points for the solution of Nepal's ills: people-oriented politics, democratic peace, socially embedded economy, equal social integration, good governance and balanced foreign policy.

Chandra Dev Bhatta explained various components of democracy that are necessary to be incorporated into the future constitution. The floor discussion spotlighted about the question of equal representation of various people in CA, formation of CA, role of technical committees and the drafting process. Some participants raised issues about property rights, de-politicization of educational and health institutions, bureaucracy, police, army and foreign policy and a sense of collective leadership. Others wanted to know how people can enforce the accountability of leadership and transform political parties into mass-based organizations. Still, others wanted to know how self-determination works at individual, sub-nation and the state levels so that local identities do not contest with, rather contribute to, the formation of national identity. A group of people stressed on the role of religion and culture in reconciliation and peace. Participants argued that it is important to learn about various models of democracy, development and peace but we must try to indigenize them to suit national conditions.

The two-day seminar attracted 185 participants from all the political parties, civil society groups, government officials and representatives of various social institutions, students, business chamber of newly elected CA members. On the occasion Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) distributed its publications on women and CA, Handouts on Democracy and Compromise Politics to all the participants.

Source: People's Review (22-28 May 2008)


Constitutional debate begins <Top>

Bidur, Nuwakot May 16-17: The intellectuals, political leaders and civil society members of Nuwakot district expressed various social, economic and political measures to build a new Nepal. They argued that drafting a democratic constitution in the country required inclusion of contesting visions, voices and views of all the segments of Nepali society.

They viewed that law-abiding government; political parties and citizens alone can protect the culture of human rights and abolish prevailing chaos in the country.

Speaking from the chair District judge Krishna Prasad Banstola said, "Mere floating of various concepts in the public is not sufficient unless they are implemented to change the life of the people for the better.

Similarly, Chief District Officer Bhanu Bhakta Pokherel stated that constitutional debates are essential to educate the public about the issues and build their informed choices and opinions on political affairs.

Constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal while presenting various models of constitution, such as the US, Indian and German stressed that constitution basically legitimizes the political ideology of the nation.

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal office presenting his paper on building modern state, needs and challenges of Nepal argued that modern state is based on civic political culture which transcends the particularisms of the nations prevailing caste, class, region, religion and ethnic affiliations.

“Civic spirit is the product of rationalistic and humanistic culture as it tends to balance freedom and order, rights and responsibilities and aspirations and institutions”, Dahal stated.

Modern politics ought to be based on ideology rather than biology. Dahal furnished five points for the solution of Nepals ills which were, for example, people-oriented politics, democratic peace, socially embedded economy, equal social integration, good governance and balanced foreign policy.

Chandra Dev Bhatta explained various components of democracy that are necessary to be incorporated into the future constitution.

The floor discussion spotlighted about the question of equal representation of various people in CA, formation of CA, role of technical committees and the drafting process.

Source: The Telegraph weekly (21 May 2008)


Trade Union Cooperation <Top>

Kathmandu, May 9-10, Asian and Pacific Regional Organization of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (TWARO)'s Nepal affiliates of Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) and General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) organized two-day training on "Trade Union Education," on May 9-10, in Kathmandu. It involved 35 district level leaders of carpet, garment and handicraft workers from seven national affiliates in the training. Trainers provided the training on role of trade union in the drafting of constitution, industrial relations and Collective Bargaining Agreement, gender equality, women and youth participation in union, basic legal knowledge including social security, flexibility of labor demanded by employers and core labor rights articulated by the International Labor Organization.

Speaking on the occasion head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal office, underlined that the CA has unveiled new opportunities for the workers to participate in the long-term vision for nation-building. The future tasks of unions are: make human rights as non-negotiable agenda, strengthen unions' role in the technical committees of CA through their elected members, link economy to democratic politics, insert issues of social security and workers rights and support the institutional pillars of democracy and peace. He added that the unions have provided the workers five critical resources-knowledge, linkages, voice, organization and solidarity to combat their situation. These roles need to be further institutionalized by making the union autonomous of party politics.

General Secretary of General Federation of Nepalese Trade Union Binod Shrestha stressed the need for the bottom-up development of leadership in the union while General-Secretary of Nepal Trade Union Congress focused on the transformation of relationship between political parties and trade unions towards more equality and democracy. Other speakers voiced their concern for the unity of all trade union confederation on their agenda for the CA. The two-day program was organized with the support of FES Nepal office.

Source: Tej Tara Weekly Chronicle (12 May 2008)

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