Nepal Monthly Update – May 2012
This report is issued by the UN RCHCO with inputs from its UN Field Coordination Offices and other partners and sources. The report covers May 2012. The next report will be issued the first week of July 2012.
May ended without the promulgation of the new constitution. State restructuring remained a disputed issue to the end and parties feared reactions of various actors to any potential constitutional text. Prime Minister Bhattarai’s announcement of new Constituent Assembly (CA) elections minutes before the expiration of the CA term at midnight on 27 May ushered Nepal into a new political phase with no parliament and serious confusion regarding many constitutional provisions. In this context of political uncertainty, the surge of protests and demonstrations experienced throughout the month quickly subsided; however, this period of quiet might only be a lull before various increasingly polarized parties and groups begin to once again raise their demands.
The month began with much debate between the parties regarding constitutional content, primarily related to state restructuring and government leadership. An agreement on 11 federal units was reached between the three main parties on 15 May, which also paved the way for a national unity government to be formed for the first time since 2008. While the agreement (which appeared to include Kanchanpur and Kailali districts in a ‘Far West Province’) facilitated the end of a crippling “Undivided Far West” (UFW) bandh, strong dissent was conveyed by indigenous and Madheshi political actors. Bandhs and protests by the Muslim community, Indigenous Nationalities Joint Struggle Committee, Madheshi activists and the ‘National Integrity and Ethnic Goodwill Society’ (NIEGS) led to an increasingly tense situation and the government reached various agreements with several of these groups. In the days before the deadline to promulgate a new constitution before 28 May, Prime Minister Bhattarai sought an extension of the CA without the support of NC and UML, only to be blocked by the Supreme Court on 24 May. NC and UML announced their withdrawal from the unity government on 24 and 27 May, respectively and the stage was thus set for the CA’s demise.