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Political Space in Nepal has Improved Since Constituent Assembly Election but Challenges Remain, Sustainability Still in Question

नेपालीमा पढ्नुहोस

Kathmandu… In a report released today, Carter Center observers found broad consensus that political space has opened across Nepal since the 2008 Constituent Assembly election. Improvements in the behavior of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) cadres at the local level and a decline in armed group activity in parts of the Tarai were frequently cited as the main reasons for this change.  
However, serious concerns over UCPN(M) activities in certain areas of the country and the presence of armed groups in parts of the Tarai continue, and it is unclear whether the improvements in political space made to date can be sustained during future national elections.
Additionally, while nearly all interviewees reported that political space has improved, Carter Center observers found that political parties are currently engaged in relatively few public activities, meaning that in many areas political space remains partly untested.  Many party cadres complained of a lack of instructions, guidance, and support from their central-level leaders.  
"Carter Center observers were told by non-Maoist party members in multiple districts that the 'conflict-era mentality' of Maoist cadres is fading and that non-Maoist parties are increasingly free to organize and conduct activities in rural areas, including in traditional UCPN(M) strongholds," said Dr. David Pottie, associate director of the Democracy Program at The Carter Center.  "Nonetheless, serious incidents of Maoist violence and threats, as well as lingering 'psychological fear' from the conflict, persist in some areas."
In most of the Tarai, political space was reported as generally free, mainly because no single party or group was seen as having either the capacity or intent to close space.  However, armed group violence continues to have an effect in some areas, with UCPN(M) cadres seemingly disproportionately targeted. It remains difficult to determine the degree to which these attacks are based on political motives as opposed to personal or other factors.
Nepalis interviewed for the report held mixed views on whether the current improvements in political space will be sustained during future elections.  Many were optimistic but said that the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants should be completed in order to ensure the next elections are credible and genuinely democratic.  Others spoke of a culture of political obstruction in Nepal, and expressed doubts that the future electoral environment would be better than in 2008.  A large number also noted the inability of police and administration officials to guarantee open political space due to political interference, widespread impunity, and a lack of police resources.
The report is based on detailed findings gathered by Carter Center observers from 25 districts in Nepal between February and June 2011.  Since June 2009, teams of observers have been continuously deployed to observe the peace and constitutional drafting processes at the local level. Observers spoke with political party members, civil society representatives, police and government officials, and citizens at the district headquarters and Village Development Committee levels.  
Summary of Key Recommendations:
·         The UCPN(M), Government of Nepal, and all parties to the peace process should take all necessary steps to complete the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants, and implement fully all outstanding peace process commitments,
·         All parties should increase their efforts to use the political space available currently and should increase their communication and support to local-level party members,
·         The UCPN(M) should fully implement the party's commitment to political freedom, with a focus on areas where clear violations have taken place,
·         The Government of Nepal should target areas of known political space problems for increased police presence and attention from district-level officials, and
·         All parties should cease interference in police investigations and enforcement of the rule of law.

Working to support peace in Nepal since 2003, The Carter Center deployed an international election observation mission to observe the 2008 Constituent Assembly election. The Center has remained in country to observe the constitution drafting efforts, peace process, and voter registration process with a focus on the local level. Read all recent Carter Center reports at nepal-peace.html


The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production.

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