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Nepal's transition to democracy requires international and regional assistance

Kim Soo A [Nepal desk, Asian Human Rights Commission]: "First of all, I congratulate the people of Nepal on its transition into a Secular, Federal Democratic Republic. The declaration made on 28 May 2008 by the Constituent Assembly of Nepal is a remarkable milestone in Nepal's history and is the success of democracy and democratic values.

Transformation of a state from monarchy to a democratic republic is not an easy task in theory as well as in practice. The process is more difficult especially when the pre-transition period was marked by violence. To make matters complicated Nepal was a Hindu kingdom where inequality was the norm, with feudalism and caste based discrimination literally segregating the people into non-combinable socio-political veins. These practices coupled with centuries of maladministration have also considerably exhausted Nepal's financial reserves. Yet Nepal and its people have emerged as a successful nation with a resolve to get away from the past and to create a new future.

The Constituent Assembly of Nepal is embarked upon a highly responsible task of drafting a basic law for the new republic. This process need to be an all-inclusive process in letter and spirit since the future of the republic and its people depends on it.

With a considerably large number of ethnic communities living and interacting within a limited geographical expanse, it is a difficult yet achievable task, to bring these communities together under a unified code ensuring equality and fairness. Therefore, the discussions and decisions of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal should reflect the political acumen, legislative draftsmanship and the statesmanship of its members, exercised with a view for the betterment of Nepal and its people.

Countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Myanmar are examples that showcase how fast a state can plunge into utter lawlessness due to the short-sightedness of its administrators. Whereas India is an example to a country that underperforms even if a country has a good constitutional framework. The statesmen in Nepal must keep their eyes open to save Nepal from following the destiny of Nepal's neighbours.

The monarchy that existed in Nepal has literally wiped off the institutional framework within which a democracy can function. The civil war like situation that existed in Nepal burdened with corruption and neglect by the former administrations has literally paralysed the functioning of the law enforcement mechanisms in Nepal. For example the functionality of the police department, correctional institutions and the courts in Nepal is hampered due to the absence of even the basic infrastructure to function. This has also brought down the morale of the officers posted in these government services to a considerable extent. Without a proper law enforcement mechanism no democracy can function or evolve.

The Constituent Assembly of Nepal while discussing and debating on drafting a basic law for Nepal must also ensure that these justice institutions also are rejuvenated without any further delay with a new life so that it meets the expectations of the ordinary people. Such rejuvenation is a prerequisite to facilitate a smooth process of transitional justice in Nepal.

While Nepal is embarked upon its new destiny as a republic and its people expecting a new life within Nepal, it is also the responsibility of Nepal's neighbours, particularly India, to be of good assistance to Nepal in the process of establishing a fully functional democracy in the country. The international community like the United Nations should get more involved in providing all necessary assistance to Nepal, by thoroughly understanding what Nepal is and what it requires, than from forcing anything that is foreign to Nepal. It is also equally the responsibility of the people of Nepal and its civil society to cooperate with the Constituent Assembly and also to guide it to lay the strong foundations for a true Secular, Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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