This morning I received a Press Release from UNN (United Nationalist Nepalese), a non-profit organisation registered in Houston, Texas, with a world-wide membership of nationalist Nepalis and others who support Nepal. The web site is http://www.unnepal.org/.
UNN is not alone in its call to restore the 1990 Constitution. That constitution was a democratic one, considered one of the best in the world. Ironically, our ex-PM, Madhav Kumar Nepal, was also one of the architects of that constitution. The current Constitution Assembly has failed, even after 3 years, to come up with a constitution. The Government, led by the Maoists and UML, is tabling a proposition today before the CA to extend the CA for another year. A 2/3 majority in the CA would get the proposition through.
As of now, the Nepali Congress and 2 of the Madhesh parties are opposing the extension. A 2/3 majority in the CA without them is not possible. But, knowing how politics works here, there may already be backroom horsetrading among these major parties (Maoists, NC, UML and MJF) and everyone will agree to the extension at midnight 28 May 2011. Perhaps there is already a deal where CA will be extended and a new government formed with a NC Prime Minister? (just guessing)
The people of Nepal are fed up with this CA. How can this extension be prevented? Legally, should the Supreme Court rule that an extension is not legal, given that CA extension can only occur if there is a 'national emergency'? In the streets - mass protests with the potential always of violence?
What is the way out? Presidential rule from 29 May with elections within 3 months? As the old adage asks, 'Who will bell the cat?' All fine and good for someone like me to sit comfortably in my study and spew out the above words, but who really will bell the cat? Should the CA cease to exist as of midnight 28 May, which government institution remains with any legitimacy? I can only think of the Nepal Army. Ideally, an army does not govern. It, simply put, has the express purpose of eliminating those considered enemies of the State. But there have been cases, in Africa and elsewhere, where the Army stepped in to restore democracy (e.g. Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings' coup in Ghana).
Post-28 May, whither Nepal? Do we continue with our complacency and the fabled "ke garne" attitude? Or do we take our fate in our own hands and let this CA know: 'Enough is enough. You were elected to draw up the constitution within 2 years. Even after 3 years, you have failed. You cannot keep extending yourself indefinitely. Neither an extension of 6 months nor of 1 year will give us a constitution. You have shown us clearly that the constitution is not your priority - staying in power and making money is. So go home. We will elect a new parliament/CA that truly represents our aspirations. GO HOME!"