Nepal is currently in political stalemate, over three issues: civilian supremacy, as the President moves to reinstate the army chief; the formation of the new government under leadership of the Maoist party; and the reintegration of the Maoist combatants. This stalemate is a major setback for the peace process and the writing of the new constitution.

The High Level Political Mechanism (HPLM) was formed in the second week of January 2010 with the leaders of the major political parties of Nepal, namely the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), to settle the political impasse and to bring the peace process and constitution writing process back on track.  Later on the HPLM decided to include other parties, mainly Madhesh based, in the process as well. However, almost all meetings and efforts of the HPLM have not been effective yet. To give an example, the only conclusion of the last meeting of the HPLM was setting a date and agenda for the next meeting.

Now that the discharging of the disqualified Maoist combatants from the cantonments has recently been completed, some fundamental questions on the issues of integration of the Maoist combatants come up again. These include:

  • whether to integrate them into the Nepalese army or other security forces;
  • if integration is best before the promulgation of the new constitution or afterwards;
  • how many of the Maoist combatants should be integrated into the security forces.
The Maoists have consistently claimed that the integration of ex-combatants should be into the Nepalese army after the promulgation of the new constitution. The Prime Minister has proposed that 3,000 of the 19,000 combatants should be integrated into the security forces before the promulgation of the new constitution.

The Nepalese people from various fields, such as civil society, media, different professional groups, youth associations and student organisations are organizing different activities like rallies, conferences, speeches, sit-ins, fasting and the spreading posters, pamphlets and printings every day to create more pressure to write the new constitution within the given time frame. There are only 91 days left to promulgate the new constitution, and the slow progress is frustrating and worrying.

Ambika Pokhrel, Local Correspondent, 26 February 2010