Kamala Sarup: Truce And Negotiated Settlement

Published: Wed 8 Dec 2004 10:54 AM
Truce And Negotiated Settlement
By Kamala Sarup
The Peace Media Board Advisor Dr. Alok K. Bohara, argued: "A negotiated solution is in everyone's interest. But the constitution needs some tinkering to remove dangerous ambiguities.
"In nine years, the Maoists' sphere of influence increased, the state too had moved beyond tit-for-tat tactics to hunting down rebel militia inflicting a 5:1 "kill ratio". The fact that many of these were not even Maoists had started coming out in scathing human rights reports. Then came the killing of the APF chief. This was a new and dangerous escalation that had the potential of reprisal killings by death squads just like El Salvador in the 1980s.
The Maoists cadre already had a taste of extortion, bank robberies and executions - all in the name of their political mission. And with the political parties sidelined, unleashing a well-equipped army on an increasingly brutal counter-insurgency campaign would have been difficult to monitor for Kathmandu".
Prof. Bohara further argued: " If the conflict is prolonged and positions harden, it would be more likely that the military and the monarchy would both be bargaining chips in future negotiations. Worse yet, a full-scale civil war was not so far-fetched anymore. By trying to find an early resolution, negotiations can be limited to some of the Maoists' lesser demands."
So, this truce and negotiated settlement are in the best interests of everyone - the monarchy, the military and the Maoists. But for it to work, the political parties must be brought into the picture. They alone have the mechanism to serve as a go-between between the monarchy and the people. In addition, the Maoists must be wooed into the political mainstream".
Dr. Alok K. Bohara, currently a tenured full professor of economics, Department of Economics, University of New Mexico since 1987 further added;
"The road ahead is fraught with obstacles. Most importantly, the negotiating parties must widen the scope of the purposed constituent assembly. After public debate, consultation and feedback, an elected constituent assembly can easily be converted into a parliament after the task of creating a new constitution is over. Some nations like South Africa have done precisely this to save resources.
A set of constitutional mechanisms should be introduced to make the parliament more accountable, stable, responsible and sovereign. It will require major changes in many areas;
-a decentralised system of regional or even zonal governments to devolve power and responsibility to the grassroots,
-a more inclusive electoral method like the proportional representation system,
-instituting a system of constructive vote of no confidence to ensure stability in the parliament,
-instituting a set of code of conduct in politicos to minimise conflict of interest and reduce institutional corruption, and importantly
-removal of ambiguity in the constitution to ensure the separation of powers.
On the issue of separation of powers, the parliament must be made sovereign by clearly defining the power and responsibility of the king. This will require key changes in the Constitution in the following areas;
-Article 118: Provisions Regarding the Royal Nepal Army,
-Article 115: Emergency Powers,
-Article127: Power to Remove Obstacles,
-Article 35: Executive Powers,
-Article 31: Questions Not To Be Raised in Court, and
-Article 128: Provisions Regarding the Council of Ministers".
Dr. Bohara received his MA and PhD from the University of Colorado in 1986. Dr. Bohara is the founder of the Nepal Study Center further said
" In almost all democracies, the primary role of the army is to follow orders. It should not be involved in any political decision-making process, nor should it ever be put in a position that compels it to question the motives of the elected government. There is much ambiguity regarding the role and authority of the democratically elected government's ability to mobilise the army. The new constitution must clarify these ambiguities.
An article published in Nepali Times, Dr. Alok Bohara further added:
What we have to safeguard are the accomplishments of the 1990 Peoples' Movement and the new constitution that restored sovereignty in the people. We have to make sure that the sacrifices many made 14 years ago and also in 1951 for the ideals of democracy will not be in vain. And of course, there is the sacrifice of nearly 10,000 Nepali lives in the past nine years, and the destitution, displacement and bereavement of hundreds of thousands of our citizens. We owe it to them to make this work. Finding a lasting solution to the conflict will then put us on a road to finally improving the living conditions of the Nepali people. The road ahead is fraught with obstacles. But we cannot give up trying. We owe it to our future generations and to our brave ancestors who created, preserved and defended this nation".Dr. Alok K. Bohara has published close to 60 peer-reviewed articles in well-known professional journals; has mentored and produced several PhD students; involved in several National Science Foundation grants; has taken on several university-wide assignments; and has published several opinion pieces in Kathmandu based newspapers.
But we Nepali want, arms and weapons must be the first to go. No peace-seeking talk can ever be achieved when one or both parties are holding a gun to the other's head. In this case, inter-group trust is needed and respect for one's neighbour is achieved in the form of honesty. The current situation in which so many innocent people have been killed and so many more are now living their lives in untold fear.
The Nepalese people want the war to come to an end and their urgent essential problems addressed immediately. Cease-fires, negotiations, meetings, though are most acceptable ways of conflict resolutions of any insurgency, and it is essential to restore peace and improve security and human rights situation. Media coverage is needed, getting powerful political leaders willing to speak about it, as well as getting various Human Rights organizations and NGOs to make it an issue.
We have to develop strategies for supporting, developing and enhancing peace building at multiple levels. Restarting the peace process is an essential step in offering them an alternative worth living for. The agreement would also help bring stability to the entire region. However, since we negotiated for a political solution to the Maoists war, all it takes is commitment from all sides to make it work.
Several people have been displaced by the fighting. While the more affluent were able to migrate to India, the financially and socially deprived had no option but to become internally displaced and live under very difficult conditions. In addition to the destruction of physical infrastructure, increased rebels activities has disturbed socioeconomic activities in the country. The Maoists war has affected our entire life. War and poverty have prevented us from having access to our basic needs of life like health and education. The Maoists war has ruined our life. We all Nepalese are anxiously waiting for the end of the war and ushering of peace.
Nepalese people should have common goals, and should educate people and should find out the peace and justice. We all Nepalese must work together and educate people so we can begin to create change at all levels. We must move from violence culture to a culture of peace.
Without peace, democracy cannot exist. We must now think if our children can be safe in tomorrow's Nepal.
(Kamala Sarup is editor to

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