Nepal holds first general elections; moves towards democracy

By The IST News Network

Sydney, 27 November, 2017

A man cast his vote on a ballot box during the parliamentary and provincial elections in Sindhupalchok District in Nepal:Photo Reuters

More than ten years after the end of the civil war, between the Maoist Peasants Guerrillas and Security Forces, Nepal went to Parliamentary and Assembly polls on Sunday, 26 November, 2017. Nepal is hoping this election – the first parliamentary polls since 1999 – will complete its long journey from a monarchy to become a Federal Republic. Army was on alert as there were some incidents of small blasts, blamed on the Maoist groups.

Elections to be conducted in two phases showed a remarkable 65% turnout in the first phase. A number of voters had to trek long snow bound distances to reach their polling booths.

Nepal is a landlocked country in the Indian Sub-continent with an area of 56,827 square miles and a population of about 29, 331,000 and 41st most populated country in the world. Nepal is bordered by the People’s Republic of China on the north and by the Republic of India on the east, west and south.

Nepali is the official language of Nepal; it is derived from Sanskrit and was formerly known as Khaskura. Other languages spoken in the country are: Tharu, Gurung, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Kiranti, Tamang, Sherpa, Magar and Limbu. But the script is devanagari the same as Hindi.

Nepal is proud country that was never colonised by the British despite the country helping the British in the Indian War of Independence in 1857. Nepal was ruled by the Shahs before the Maoists took control of the country.

In 1989, as communist states across Europe crumbled and pro democracy demonstrations occupied China’s Tiananmen Square, Nepali opposition parties formed a coalition to fight for a multiparty democracy with the king as constitutional head; the upsurge of protest was called the Jana Andolan, or People’s Movement.

In early 1990 the government responded to a nonviolent gathering of over 200,000 people with bullets, tear gas and thousands of arrests. After several months of intermittent rioting, curfews, a successful strike, and pressure from various foreign-aid donors, the government was forced to back down. The people’s victory did not come cheaply; it is estimated that more than 300 people lost their lives.

On 9 April King Birendra announced he was lifting the ban on political parties. On 16 April he asked the opposition to lead an interim government, and announced his readiness to accept the role of constitutional monarch. Nepal was a democracy. But on 1 June 2001 the Nepali psyche was dealt a huge blow when Crown Prince Dipendra gunned down almost every member of the royal family during a get-together. A monarch who had steered the country through some extraordinarily difficult times was gone. When the shock of this loss subsided the uncertainty of what lay ahead hit home.

The political situation turned from bad to worse and Nepal saw 10 prime ministers in 11 years. Hopefully, this parliamentary election brings stability in Nepal. (With inputs from wikipedia)

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Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The
Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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