The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) held its national convention from 2-7 February, the first since the launching its decade-long armed conflict and the subsequent Comprehensive Peace Agreement process. The party renounced armed violence, embraced “socialism” within a “capitalist” system, adopted a conciliatory approach to India and acknowledged the need for a “new synthesis” that is politically and ideologically suited for a 21st Century Nepal.
The end of the UCPN-M convention provided the opportunity for renewed negotiation between the main political parties to end the ongoing national political and constitutional crisis that began when the Constituent Assembly (CA) was dissolved at midnight on 27 May 2012 without agreeing to a new constitution. The latest proposal, to form a caretaker ‘election government’ under the leadership of the sitting Chief Justice was first publicly revealed at the Maoist convention and firmly backed by key national and international stakeholders. It met with strong resistance from several quarters, including from the Nepal Bar Association, sections of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist). A CPN-Maoist led alliance of several smaller parties carried out a series of protests and conducted a nationwide bandh on 19 February. Debate on the political proposal between stakeholders focused on the constitutionality of having a sitting head of the judiciary serve simultaneously as the head of government, which risks checks on the separation of powers and of politicising the judiciary. These questions will now be answered by the Supreme Court, which is hearing a writ petition against the proposal. A task force comprising the four major parties prepared a draft agreement on forming the proposed new government and conducting elections in a matter of weeks, achieving more substantive consensus than the parties had made in the eight months since the dissolution of the CA. However, several issues remained outstanding by the end of the month, including the terms for forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, determining voter registration (including the need of citizenship certifications), determining ranks for former Maoist combatants integrated into the Nepal Army and questions of sequencing in the removal of constitutional difficulties to allow for elections as soon as possible.
Overall, there were few major operational space issues reported by the signatories to the Basic Operating Guidelines (BOGs). The surge of donation demands by political parties and their affiliated groups in January subsided, with no major donation demands being reported by BOGs signatories during February. The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) enforced nationwide bandh on 19 February1 had only limited impact on BOGs signatories. Only those BOGs signatories and implementing partners with red- plated vehicles faced difficulties moving or imposed self-restrictions on their vehicle movements; UN vehicle movements were not affected.