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Nepalís Historic Vote

Interviewee: Robert Templer
Interviewer: Jayshree Bajoria
April 11, 2008

On April 10, Nepal held elections for a constitutional assembly that will revise the country’s constitution and end its monarchy. The vote is also expected to bring Maoist rebels into the Nepalese political mainstream, which experts hope may bring an end to years of fighting between Maoist rebel groups and Nepal’s government. But the run-up to the polls was marked by violence and Robert Templer, director of the Asia program at the International Crisis Group, says “there are a lot of real concerns about the potential for violence” given the long wait for results, which are not expected for several weeks. When results are announced, if the Maoists don’t win a significant number of votes, there is concern that they may take up arms again. A peace deal between the Maoists and the government in November 2006 put an end to a decade-long civil war that had resulted in thousands of deaths and widespread human rights abuses by both Maoists and Nepalese security forces.

Templer says Nepal’s transition to a federal democratic republic “is going to be a long, slow process.” While Nepal has the major components of a functioning democracy already in place, he says, it needs to have a more independent judiciary, a more effective civil service, and be able to deal with the complexity of ethnicity, caste, and language. But with these elections in Nepal, and those in Bhutan and Pakistan before them, Templer says it is clear that “democracy in South Asia, for all of its troubles, is remarkably resilient.”


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