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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: « Une démocratie népalaise à conforter »

by Interview by Dominique Bari

“Democracy in Nepal to be reinforced”

Translated Saturday 14 October 2006, by Emily Plank


KP Sharma Oli, Deputy Prime Minister and leading member of the Communist Party reviews the state of his country whilst on a visit to Paris.

HUMA: Is the situation in Nepal currently stabilised?

KP Sharma Oli: Our country experienced some fundamental changes following popular demonstrations last April. We have put an end to autocracy. For the first time in history, the Nepalese people have gained sovereignty and the right to make their own decisions. Democracy has been restored and a parliament and interim government have been put in place, along with the coalition of 7 political parties who had been opposed to the royal coup. On 18 May, the Parliament unanimously passed a statement to considerably reduce royal privileges and abolish army control. The current interim government’s priorities are to reinforce democracy, to put an end to ten years of armed conflict which has claimed thousands of victims, and to restore peace. Achieving these aims will open up the way for economic development. A democratisation of the political system was put in motion and this was initially successful in establishing a ceasefire with Maoist rebels and opening negotiations that have already proven to be profitable. On 16 June, the government and Maoist leaders signed an agreement to ensure shared power, the formation of a new interim government that would include Maoists, and elections for a new Constituent Assembly to discuss and draft a new constitution. These big advancements have created hope.

HUMA: The next meeting between Maoist leaders and the government is scheduled for October 8. It has been turned down several times, how do you expect it to go?

KP Sharma Oli: The real aim is to identify how we can develop peace processes in the current democratic conditions. In accordance with the 24 point agreement that we signed in June, the government honoured its duties, such as releasing Maoist leaders, and committed to a schedule. The elections for a Constituent Assembly must be held as soon as possible, with the help of the United Nations, however we want them to take place in a calm environment of impartiality and peace, with no intimidation, so that everyone may express themselves freely on the future of the regime (editors note: kingdom or republic). To achieve this, the Maoists have no choice but to abandon all forms of violence; because extortion, kidnappings, intimidation and violence are continuing to occur despite the ceasefire and peace talks. The crucial issue now is the disarmament of the militia before the elections and formation of an interim government. If the Maoists do not lay down their arms, how can they be part of this democratisation?

HUMA: What should the army’s attitude be?

KP Sharma Oli: The Parliament’s statement on 18 May is very clear with regards to the army. It is no longer under the control of the king, who relied on it for his coup in February 2005. It has changed its name from Royal Army of Nepal to Army of Nepal. Recently, the Parliament unanimously approved an amendment to the law concerning the army. From now on, the Supreme Command will be the responsibility of the Council of ministers. The new law also aims to democratise the army and introduces a new military court, to be presided over by a civilian. This court will have the authority to try criminal acts committed by military personnel, especially in cases of corruption, torture and ’disappeared’ persons.

Interview by Dominique Bari

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