25 feared killed in clash between Maoists and MJF activists in Gaur; curfew clamped NepalNews a shootout between the Maoists and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) activists in Gaur ...... Jwala Singh faction of Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) has owned up responsibility for the shootout. ..... three dozen others were injured in the shootout. ..... the Maoist-affiliated Madhesi Mukti Morcha and the MJF had planned their mass meetings in the area at the same time. Maoist lawmaker Prabhu Shah and MJF chairman Upendra Yadav were to address their respective mass meetings. ...... some victims died as a result of head injuries caused by beatings with bamboo batonsThese 25 deaths in Gaur are in the same category as the 13,000 deaths during the decade long civil war. Two Maoist factions - both Madhesi - clashed. This is sad. This is tragic. This is unnecessary.
Where does the responsibility lie?
The 38 deaths during the 21 day Madhesi Movement were in the same category as the 21 deaths during the April Revolution. But these 25 deaths are in the power-through-barrel-of-gun category.
Where does the responsibility lie?
(1) The Government
The breakaway Maoist factions, how are they different from the Maoists? If you can put 30,000 Maoists into cantonments, why can't you put a few hundred Madhesi fighters also into cantonments? The armed Maoist groups are as much in control of the mainstream Madhesi parties and groups as the Maoists were under the control of the Congress or the UML. We will be lucky to mainstream them now when they are small. Otherwise we could very well go down the Sri Lanka slope, and no Madhesi shouting however loud for Madhesi rights today will matter much once the cycle of violence gains momentum. The soldiers of non-violence will get sidelined. That will be bad for the Madhesh, and bad for the country. Armed political action in the Terai are the single biggest threat to the elections scheduled for June.
You create conditions for talks, and then you talk. The government's attitude is that these armed Madhesi groups are not really that big, so why worry? They are not that big, but they are growing bigger by the day. And how is it bad news that they are not big? The Maoists also started small in 1996. And ethnic civil wars tend to be more complicated than class wars. We have to put out the fire now when it is small.
A civil war in the Terai, if it were to start, will be way more complicated. There is an open border. Let these 25 deaths be the last of its kind.
How do you create conditions for talks? Curiously, the armed groups are not any more demanding than the MPRF. Get the Home Minister to resign. Involve the UN. Do a repeat of what has been done to the Maoists. Tackle politically their various demands. The idea should be to get them to participate in the constituent assembly elections.
The disrespect the eight party government has shown to the 21 day Madhesi Movement has been the fuel to the fire. That disrespect has discredited the Madhesis who believe in non-violent protests. The violent ones have found new currency. This is not okay.
The political leadership in Nepal is prejudiced and it is failing the Madhesi. If the country slides into a civil war, Girija's decision to not sack Krishna Sitaula will have been the starting point in the political arena that pushed the country towards it.
That guy spent 10 years in jail. Something died inside of him. He is so unfeeling.
(2) Maoist Leadership
The Maoist party has been no different than say the Nepali Congress, or the UML, or the RPP and all the other Pahadi parties when it has come to Madhesi participation in its ranks. How many Madhesis are on the Maoist central committee? That anti-Madhesi prejudice has continued.
And now the attitude is that as long it is Madhesi Maoists fighting the breakaway Madhesi Maoists, the Maoist leadership can claim it is not anti-Madhesi prejudice at work. That is a dangerous game to be playing.
The Maoists are going to have to stop trying to disrupt the MPRF mass meetings. That leads to violence. That is not democratic competition. That is not the way to free and fair elections.
(3) The UML, Sadbhavana (Anandi)
The UML is for proportional elections, but it is not siding with the Madhesi-Janajati-Dalit Movement that has the exact same demand. The Sadbhavana (Anandi) claims to have been at the forefront of the fight for Madhesi rights. But it has not joined the call for the Home Minister's resignation. That has created much confusion and disaffection. A lot of Madhesis are feeling abandoned.
(4) Madhesi Mukti Morcha, JTMM Factions
These rival armed Madhesi groups need to wake up. The Pahadi armed rebels are in cantonments. Somebody needs to tell them the civil war is over. Stop fighting. You are getting Madhesis killed on both sides.
The Madhesi Mukti Morcha has got to align itself with the Madhesi Movement and ask for the Home Minister's resignation. It has got to ask that the 38 dead during the 21 days be declared martyrs. It has got to ask for proportional elections.
The JTMM factions have got to see the light. They are beyond the reach of all non-violent Madhesi groups. The goal has to be to reach the milestones for Madhesi rights through proportional elections to the constituent assembly.
The black on black violence in America is not proof that racism does not exist since blacks are killing each other. That is proof racism has its mirror image: internalized racism. Black on black violence is double proof racism exists.
The MPRF has to resist the temptation to counter the Maoist violence with violence. If the MPRF changes from being a nonviolent group to being a violent one, then that is a bad sign for the Madhesi Movement. People power is enough. Nonviolence is enough. Nonviolence is the more potent tool.
(6) Pahadi Media
There is such obvious bias. This is but one example.
25 Maoists killed in MPRF- Maoist crossfire Kantipur .... None of the deceased has yet been identifiedIf there was a crossfire, how is it possible all 25 deaths were on the same side? And how do you know the 25 dead were Maoists when the same news report says the dead have not been identified yet? There is talk the JTMM was involved. Why has that not been reported? Is it possible this was a JTMM-Maoist clash? The MPRF is a political organization. Its cadres do not carry guns, although it is entirely possible a fight broke out, and people got violent and used whatever they could get hold of, sticks, knives.
In The News
25 feared killed in clash between Maoists and MJF activists in Gaur; curfew clamped NepalNews
Business community suspends their indefinite strike the business community – led by FNCCI, CNI and NCC – .... strike in the private schools announced by Maoist-affiliated student wing has also been revoked ..... end threats, intimidation, extortion and abductions.
Parties express commitment to ensure conducive business atmosphere
Prachanda pledges safe environment for private businesses
ANNFSU-R to close down schools
Rana obstructed from entering his home district
US Senator introduces bill aimed at providing duty free access to LDCs seeking duty-free access facilities to the products from Nepal and 13 other Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to American market. .... these LDCs where unemployment is as high as 70 percent. ..... Senator Gordon Smith .... co-sponsored by Senator Feinstein, Senator Craig and Senator Sununu ..... It is also not clear if the readymade garments will qualify for the duty free access. Readymade garments constitute the single largest export product of Nepal to the United States.
Curfew in Nepal town after 25 killed in clash Washington Post, DC Including Wednesday's deaths, the highest toll on a single occasion, at least 56 people have been killed in protests organized by Madhesi activists over the past three months. ..... forum supporters demolished a podium set up by Maoists for a public meeting, close to where the Madhesis were organizing a rival meeting. .... Upendra Yadav, chief of the Madhesi group, said his supporters were attacked first by the Maoists. ..... Madhesi activists say the community faces widespread discrimination by Nepal's political elite and is under-represented in government, politics, police and the army. ..... "What happened in Gaur reflects the Terai mindset that it is the Maoists (who are) not allowing the government to get them into dialogue," said Yubaraj Ghimire
Gaur Killing: Sign of Civil War in Nepal?
Fresh round of violence leaves 25 dead in Nepal Times of India, India
Curfew in Nepal town after 25 killed in clash Reuters
25 people killed in Nepal clash Hindu, India
Curfew in Nepal town after seven killed in clash San Diego Union Tribune, CA
Nepal Maoists clash with ethnic group, five killed Reuters India, India
Eight killed in Maoist-Madhesi clashes in Nepal DailyIndia.com, FL
ROUNDUP: Death Toll In Southern Nepal Gun Battle At Least 25 Playfuls.com, Romania
12 die in Terai clashes, indefinite curfew clamped India eNews.com, India
Death Toll Rises In Battle Between Rival Groups In Nepal Playfuls.com, Romania
Indefinite curfew after five die in Terai India eNews.com, India
8 people killed in clash between CPN-M and MPRF PeaceJournalism.com, Nepal
At least five killed in fresh Terai violence Indian Muslims, CA
Curfew in Nepal town after 25 killed Irish Times, Ireland
Violence rocks southern Nepal Aljazeera.net, Qatar
At least 25 killed in Nepal PRESS TV, Iran
Death Toll in Rautahat Clash Reaches 25; Curfew Imposed Himalayan Times, Nepal
Only 26 percent have bank account in Nepal: survey Earthtimes.org
UN to start verification of CPN-M soldiers in Nepal ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland
Leaders learn federalism, restructuring Kantipur Altogether 32 participants including Koirala and four others from the NC, Dina Nath Sharma and three others from the Maoists, Ishwor Pokharel and two others from the CPN-UML, four including Bimalendra Nidhi from NC-D, Lila Mani Pokharel and two others from People's Front Nepal, Parshu Ram Khapung and two others from Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Anil Jha from Nepal Sadbhabana Party (A), and experts and facilitators have been taking part.
होला त जेठमा चुनाव - वर्तमान परिस्थितिमा जेठमा चुनाव हुनसक्ने प्राविधिक अवस् था बिथोलि“दै गए पनि नेताहरू इमानदारीपर्ूवक यो कुरा स्वीकार्न तयार देखि“दैनन् सकेसम्म अन्य साझेदार दलहरूलाई महत्त्वपर्ूण्ा मन्त्रालय नदिने प्रधानमन्त्रीको अडान ...... प्रचण्ड र नेपालस“गको भेटमा प्रधानमन्त्रीले वरष्िठ उपप्रधानमन्त्री, गृह, रक्ष्ँा र अर्थ मन्त्रालय काङ्ग्रेसकै भागमा पर्नुपर्ने दाबी गरेको ..... "मेरो अवस्था तपाईंहरूलाई थाहा छ“दैछ, वरष्िठ उपप्रधानमन्त्री, गृह र रक्षा । यी मन्त्रालय तपाईंहरू दाबी गर्दै नगर्नुस्" ....... एमालेले उपप्रधानमन्त्रीसहित गृहको समेत दाबी गर्यो ...... घुमाउरो पारामा कोइरालाले वामदेव गौतमलाई उपप्रधान र गृहमन्त्री बनाउन आफू कुनै हालतमा तयार नभएको जनाएका थिए ..... संविधानसभाको मिति तत्काल घोषणा हुनुपर्ने, अन्तरमि सरकारको आचारसंहिता तत्काल बनाउनुपर्ने, मन्त्रालय बा“डफा“टमा ठूला पार्टर्ीीबीच तत्काल सहमति हुनुपर्ने अनि मात्र प्रधानमन्त्रीको चयन मात्र नभई, पर्ूण्ा मन्त्रिमण्डल नै गठन गरनिुपर्ने अडान राख्ने निर्ण्र्ााएमालेले गर्यो । ....... कोइरालाको स्वास् थ्यस्थितिमा अपेक्षाकृत सुधार आएको छ ..... मधेशको समस्या आइलाग्नेबित्तिकै मन्त्री पदबाट राजीनामा दिएर आन्दोलनको आगो सल्काउन सद्भावना पार्टर्ीी खेलेको भूमिकाले निश्चय पनि संविधानसभाको निर्वाचनलाई मद्दत गरेन । ...... माओवादीहरूको आचरणमा सुधार खोज्ने तर आफै“ लुटेराहरूको आचरणबाट मुक्त हुन नसक्ने नेपाली काङ्ग्रेसका नेताहरूको व्यवहार ...... सुजाता कोइरालाको नाम भ्रष्ट आर्थिक गतिविधिहरूस“ग जोडिनु ...... नेपालका राजनीतिक दलका नेताहरूमा ठूलो परविर्तन थेग्नसक्ने क्षमता नै छैन ....... "००७ सालदेखि ०१५ सालसम्म संविधानसभाकै नाममा राजाले खेलेर बिताए । अब अहिले सात दलका नेताहरू त्यही कुरालाई दोहोर्याएर आफ्नो सत्ता लम्ब्याउने फिराकमा छन् । ...... कोइरालाले विराटनगरमा टिप्पणी गर्नु भयो, "सबै हतियार कसैले पनि बुझाउ“दैन । हामीले पनि बुझाएनौ“ । सबैभन्दा महत्त्वपर्ूण्ा कुरा विश्वास हो ।" ..... कसैले पनि दलीय स् वार्थभन्दा बाहिर निस्किएर दलित, जनजाति र अढाइ सय वर्षम्म राज्यपद्धतिमा समावेश नगरएिका नागरकिहरूको चिन्ता गरेका छैनन् । प्रभावका हिसाबले पनि, राजनीतिक दलहरू सा“घुर“िदै गएका छन् । जनजाति र दलितहरूमा दलहरूमाथिको अविश्वास बढ्दै गएको छ । मधेशमा जसरी आन्दोलन उठ्यो ... त्यसबाट दलहरूले आफ्नो प्रभावको विस्तार गर्न नसकेको स्पष्ट देखिएको छ । ....... जेठमा चुनाव हुन नसके पृथ्वी नै पग्लिन सक्ने आशङ् काले सात दलका नेताहरू मात्र होइन, माओवादी नेताहरू पनि आक्रान्त छन् । ...... चैत २ गतेको एमाले स् थायी समितिको बैठकले चाहि“ अन्तरमि सरकार गठनमा नेपाली काङ्ग्रेसको भूमिका बाधक बनेको निष्कर्षनिकाल्यो ..... प्रधानमन्त्री र गृहमन्त्री एउटै दलको हुन नहुने निष्कर्षएमाले स्थायी कमिटी बैठकको छ ....... काङ्ग्रेसका रामचन्द्र पौडेल, एमालेका भीम रावल, माओवादीका डा बाबुराम भट्टर्राई र काङ्गे्रस -प्रजातान्त्रिक) का डा प्रकाशशरण महत .... शर्ीष्ा नेताहरूको बैठकबाट अपराह्न बाहिरएिर खुलामञ्चको कार्यक्रमलाई सम्बोधन गर्न पुगेका माओवादी अध्यक्ष्ँ प्रचण्डले भनेका थिए, "सरकार गठन गर्न त्यति सजिलो छैन ।" ..... यसअघि भएका बैठकहरूमा भने माओवादीको व्यवहार मुख्य मुद्दा बन्दै आएको थियो ।
अब राजाले डेरा सरे हुन्छ’ नरहरि आचार्य जनस्तरमा पार्टर्ीीई पुग्न र आफ्ना कुरा भन्न नेतृत्व तहका साथीहरूलाई गाह्रो भइरहेको छ । .... लोकतन्त्र भनेको राजतन्त्रलाई 'रिप्लेस' गरेर आएको पद्धति हो । .... राजा महेन्द्र र वीरेन्द्रलाई बम हान्ने नेपाली काङ्गे्रस नै हो । यति त माओवादीले पनि गरेनन् । ..... वीरेन्द्र पनि ०४७ को संविधानबाट असन्तुष्ट नै थिए । बारम्बार मेरो भूमिका खोइ भनिरहन्थे । ...... नेतृत्वमा हुन नसकेको आन्तरिक लोकतान्त्रीकरणको कमीले पनि ०४७ सालको संविधानले काम गर्न सकेन । ..... नेपाली जनताको मनस्थितिलाई पार्टर्ीीेतृत्वले कहिल्यै पनि बुझ्न सकेन । .... आन्दोलन पार्टर्ीीे निर्धारणभन्दा बाहिर थियो । आन्दोलनको मानसिकतालाई पनि गहिराइमा बुझेको थिएन नेतृत्वले । मैले त यतिसम्म सुनेको छु वैशाख ८ को राजाको वक्तव्यलाई केही पार्टर्ीी सकारात्मक कदम मानिसकेका थिए । तर, नेपाली जनताले जसरी आफूलाई प्रस्तुत गरे, त्यसमा अनुमानको कुनै गुञ्जाइस रहेन । ........ ०४७ सालमा ७५ जनाले शहादत प्राप्त गरेपछि मात्रै वीरेन्द्र टसमस भए । तर, ज्ञानेन्द्रले २५ जना नमर्दै र्समर्पण गर्नुपर्यो । ..... स्वयम्सेवी रूपमा नारायणहिटी छोडेर 'डेरा सरे“ र नागरिक भए“' भन्ने हो भने सामान्य जीवन जिउने परिस्थिति बन्नसक्छ । किनभने, विश्वमा यस्तो उदाहरण नै छैन । राजतन्त्र समाप्त भएपछि राजाहरू या त भौतिक रूपमा समाप्त भएका छन् या त देश छोडेर भागेका छन् । ..... माओवादीले बोलीमा लोकतान्त्रिक भने पनि व्यवहार, क्रियाकलाप, अभ्यास हर्ेदा मान्छेेहरूमा आशङ्का छ ..... कतिपय सरकारले हतियार दिन खोज्दा त्यहा“का जनताले गोली पनि बेच्न मानेनन् राजाको सत्तालाई । ..... जेठमा नभए असोजमा हुन्छ ..... १५ दिनमा बनाउने भनेको अन्तरिम संविधान बनाउन पा“च महिना लाग्यो । कतिपय चुनाव गराउन चाहिने ऐन पारित भएका छैनन् । मतदाता नामावली सङ्कलन जारी छ । यस् ता प्राविधिक कुरा नै बा“की छन् भने जेठमा कसरी होला त - तर, भएन भने के चाहि“ हुन्छ भने नेतृत्वको सान्दर्भिकतामा प्रश्न उठ्छ, संविधानसभाको चुनावको सान्दर्भिकतामा होइन । ...... नेपाली काङ्ग्रेस एकाङ्गी छ । अहिले पार्टर्ीीेतृत्वको शैली परम्परागत ढा“चा र मनोगत शैलीमा चलेको छ । .... 'तपाईंलाई नीतिगत रूपले र्समर्थन गछौर्ं तर गिरिजाबाबुलाई अर्कोपटक भोट दिन पाइन्न होला तर्सथ उहा“लाई नै भोट दिन्छौ“' भन्ने साथीहरूको सङ्ख्या बाक्लो थियो ।
A Peace Trap?
by Ken Ohashi
Peace is the singular goal of the day in Nepal. The political actors have shown much willingness to find compromises on contentious issues to move the peace process far. This is impressive. There is, however, a danger in this. Government leaders are acting as though there were walking on the eggshell, and bending backward to avoid causing any stir in the system that, in their view, may jeopardize the delicate political process. The problem is this extraordinary caution could lead to a situation in which a more solid peace is achieved formally but not much else happens. The expectations for peace dividends are high, but if few materialized, will the peace be lasting?
Peace dividends have to come in two forms: more jobs and better public services. Creating jobs require a better environment for private investment. Better public services require both improvements in the delivery system and more public resources. Even before the conflict intensified in 2001, Nepal was not doing terribly well on either front. Although some reforms have taken place since then, both the economic system and the governmental system still suffer from many problems. Therefore, peace by itself is unlikely to lead to rapid generation of new jobs or much better public services.
If anything, the thinking that this is not the time to take on difficult reforms has led to deeply worrying compromises. For instance, recognizing that overly rigid labor laws are a critical impediment to economic growth, there had been efforts to introduce greater flexibility in the labor laws and make Nepal a more attractive place for investment. But, this process has been all but suspended for the fear that trade unions may cause problems for the government. The lack of transparency in the Revenue Department in regard to corporate tax collection has been another important problem. The government has not taken any bold action to address it, perhaps because civil servants too can cause problems. Under these circumstances, it is hard to believe that the Nepali economy is poised to take off.
The government has also given in to many demands made by special interest groups. Recently, it has promised to make 16,000 temporary teachers permanent. Such compromises will limit the system’s ability to hire most qualified personnel for many years to come; it also limits the government’s ability to fund other priorities. Even bank defaulters are demanding lenient treatment. I am sure some businesses deserve sympathy because the intense political turmoil was not entirely anticipated. But, many were over-ambitious investments to begin with, and deserve no special treatments. The loans that are not recovered by the two largest banks, RBB and NBL, will likely have to be covered by the government, to protect the depositors. By delaying strong actions against defaulters, the government is limiting its future ability to finance development needs. Further, an environment that tolerates willful defaulters is hardly an attractive place for honest business people to invest. Many other important reforms that would make public services more effective are also stalled.
For these reasons, I see a danger of Nepal finding itself in a ‘peace trap.’ The ship Nepal may get through the political storm and find calm waters, but it may also find itself dead in the water. You can see the new destination on the distant shore, but the ship has little power to move forward… This is not where Nepal would want to find itself.
So, how can Nepal ready itself to reap the peace dividends that everyone is hoping for? Many things need to be done, but let me suggest a few ideas. This is not an exhaustive list. It is meant only to highlight obvious areas of priority and provoke more thinking.
Growth and creation of jobs: First, labor, employers, and government should agree on the critical importance of job creation and introducing more flexibility in the labor law. Trade unions argue they are all for it as long as there are adequate safety nets. It is a reasonable argument, certainly for the small number of existing workers. But, what about many who are unemployed? They have neither jobs (even insecure ones) nor safety nets. The situation demands greater pragmatism and rapid action. Labor can agree on introducing employment flexibility in a limited way without affecting the existing workers, e.g., in an Export Processing Zone, even while the longer-term issue of safety nets is being addressed. In return, employers can agree to some targets on the number of new jobs to be created. The government can promise more effective inspection of these new jobs so that the greater employment flexibility is not abused. Second, the government should make urgent efforts to make tax administration transparent. Third, the government should put in place the implementation arrangements for two important new legislations: the Secured Transactions Act and the Insolvency Act. They can make a big difference in business efficiency. Last but not least, Nepal must accelerate investments in basic infrastructure, power and transport in particular.
Better public service delivery: There are numerous important tasks. But, I would suggest focusing on two key areas: basic education and health care. In education, the government should reinvigorate the transfer of schools to community management. Evidence is overwhelming that communities generally manage schools far better than the government. Giving the communities the opportunity to be directly involved in improvement of the most important public service will be a peace dividend in itself. Another key issue would be to redeploy an estimated 16,000 surplus teachers to schools that have serious teacher shortages. In health, two obvious things should be done. Make sure all the positions for doctors (1,300) and nurses (2,000) are filled, and the personnel are actually present. These are not huge numbers. If the government cannot show the ingenuity to come up with an effective approach to make this happen, what credibility would it have as a public service provider? The government should also give the positions of auxiliary nurse midwives to about 1,000 women who have been properly trained and certified now. If the government is willing to consider making 16,000 temporary teachers permanent without open competition, surely it can give highly qualified women the positions they deserve.
Protecting and government resources and policy flexibility: First and foremost, the government should not willy-nilly give out benefits that are going to constrain its fiscal ability or agree to policy compromises that limit the scope for policy reforms in the future. Reviewing with utmost rigor any demand from interest groups for special benefits is central to this. Needless to say, it should also get tough on recovering loans from willful defaulters, and improve its revenue efforts.
I do not wish to minimize the political difficulties that Nepal’s leaders face. But, surely reaching any peace is not a satisfactory objective. The goal must be to reach a sustainable peace. For that, Nepali leaders have to look past the immediate political milestones, such as constituent assembly elections, and take some bold actions so that Nepal will be ready to deliver peace dividends. It may upset the existing order here and there and it may seem politically risky. If explained, however, I think the Nepali people will understand such needs. They will provide the real ‘people power’ to support the changes the new future demands.
Mr. Ohashi id the World Bank Country Director for Nepal