I haven’t been expressly engaged in debates revolving around the current state of affair in Nepal with regard to obviously the clamor for a new constitution, although I have been able to interact with enough Nepalese youths to understand the importance attached to the search for a new constitution in reconstituting the reigning social, economic and political status quo. The reconstitution is perceived exhorting if critical processes of decision making in the country are to be citizen centered and all rounds inclusive.
On my mark, there are several things that inform the approaching hurdles of which Nepalese will definitely have to undergo in their quest for a new supreme governing law. My authority to speak on the upcoming hurdles is greatly influenced by my experience as a Kenyan and the delicate processes Kenyans have undergone through in the past to realize the incumbent constitution. First and foremost as history analogizes, there have always been two antagonizing sides to the same coin whenever the issue of governance arises-of course the governing elite and the subjects who are always susceptible to all kinds and forms of vulnerability presented to them gravelly by the later. This specific variable is somehow universal. The elite will always attempt to effect if not influence the entire constitutional making process to fit their own sectarian motives. Any threat coming from the people in terms of radical changes is never highly welcomed as this presents a highly risky potential of destabilizing the status quo which in usual circumstances favor the elite. The people of Nepal need to participate fully and courageously in ensuring that they have a constitution which provides a foundation for the realization of basic yet fundamental human rights. The citizens’ commitment to participation will however not in totality preclude other antagonistic/travesty factors from playing along. I have read articles on experts’ suggestions regarding what they perceived as the future of Nepal and relatively majority of research findings concluded with regard to democracy and the current constitutional drafting process. It is mistaken and unacceptable however, whenever theoretical analysis are made plainly failing to take cognizance of the practical aspects to inform existing possibilities of achievements made so far.
Nepal has its unique problems that have been analyzed for more than a decade with interested intra national and international actors, lackadaisical to take necessary step in trying to address even the simplest part of the nested problems; for instance basic health, literacy and promotion of civic education strategies for a better civic disposition. The country however with exiguous tangible help noticeably from international community was able to beat the odds represented by the huge monarchy governing hurdle, introducing foundational tenets of democratic transition in the 1990s. This is a clear departure depicting Nepal as one that has taken a direction already by deciding to ‘wait’ for a better future (as stated by Tobias Denskus in his piece Crucial days’ for Nepal. Still? Again? And for how long?). The country afforded to bring about a federal government in place replacing it with a monarchy empirically a big deal which remains a dream to many developing countries not excluding the developed ones. History is very explicit on political transitions around the world- these transitions have never been easy, expeditious and entertaining, although it doesn’t mean they have never been happening. Nepal from my point of view is following this model, and in consideration to its unique challenges, “for how long will only be interpreted if interventions and helping hand from the international community will proactively complement the entire internal processes particularly providing checks and balances where necessary and appropriate.
What the people of Nepal need to embrace and further harness, is bold determination to make the country a better place for their children’s children. This alas will means using all non violence means to put political leaders on check; corroborating public performance in context of existing policies and laws; speaking out on actions that appeal to future anti-democratic practices; reading the draft constitution and creating platforms to collectively influence citizens’ aspiration et cetera. Civil societies are imperative in providing some of the approaches and engagements that I have mentioned above. Let me mention that elites already enjoying the incumbent status quo may not tolerate any shake ups and will contest to ensure there is the faintest change in the current process, if their preferences will ultimately be in jeopardy. This however is hypothetical and to a greater extent can only remain to be true if the political elites have no vision, interest and place for Nepal in the 21st century.
Comparison of Nepal to Kenya in its struggle for a new people centered constitution and the concrete hurdles erected ahead (part 2)
Edwin Adoga Ottichilo