Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA) is tasked with creating a new constitution for the country, and has only two months left to accomplish its mission. If the persisting turmoil is to be analyzed, conflict between two different ideologies is one of the top five reasons why Nepal won’t get its new constitution by the mandated deadline. The past four years of Nepal’s experience with the Constitution Assembly shows that there are enough reasons not to be optimistic.
1. Ideological debate: The biggest debate between Nepal’s Maoist party and other political parties is whether to make the new document a “people’s constitution” or a “democratic constitution.” Maoists believe that the word “people," which they have repeatedly used in the past (like people’s war, people’s court, people’s liberation army) will give communism flavor, where as other political parties want to give a democratic flavor. This ideological debate between democratic and radical communism has been a major cause for why the two factions won’t come to a consensus to make a new constitution. It is still not clear what basic principles the constitution should be comprised of.
2. Inter and Intra Party conflict: Conflict between and within the political parties is another major hurdle. The blame game that has started among the major political parties regarding the Maoist (Unified Communist Party) party’s monopoly in the operation of the government and the fear among the major political parties of losing an election if one is conducted has brought about factions within and among the political parties. For instance, the Maoist — the country’s largest party — is now internally divided. With two different roadmaps inside the Maoists party, a new revolt or peaceful struggle, it is difficult for parties to work together and end the transition.
3. Lack of pressure: Insufficient pressure from institutions that represent the wider civilian population such as the civil society hasn’t been successful in pressuring leaders to quickly draft a new constitution. Civil society — the people’s voice that was highly active during the April movement to throw out the monarchy — is now silent and this has raised issues upon the legitimacy of civil society at large in Nepal. Citizens must be active in writing the constitution.
4. Lack of Implementation of the past agreements: Nepalese leaders are famous for signing one agreement after another without actually investigating the need or applicability of the agreement. Most of the agreements ranging from the comprehensive peace agreement between the Maoist and the then-government in 2006, to the recent 7 point agreements between the political parties signed in 2011, regarding integration of Maoists combatants and constitution writing, have not been implemented so far. This very tendency of signing agreements without actually conducting detailed background study has shaped.
5. Peace process: As per the announcement made in the first meeting of Constituent Assembly on May 28, 2008, the peace process, including the integration of Maoists combatants in Nepalese army, was scheduled to be completed within six months from the first meeting of CA. One struggle which still remains is figuring out the number of combatants to be integrated in the Nepalese army, and how this process will look. The need to solve the problem by adopting international norms and disputes among opposition parties is delaying the timely formation of the constitution.