Archive for the ‘Nepal’ category

Apocalypse Mao?

June 6, 2006

As we all know, supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony, nor indeed from the divine right of a self-proclaimed Hindu God-King and supposed avatar of Vishnu. So it’s good to see the masses of Nepal taking to the streets to bring down their tyrannical king/dictator and reestablish popular democracy.

For those who haven’t been paying rapt attention to the recent political upheavals in this tiny Himalayan nation, a brief blow-by-blow: in 2001, the crown prince of the then constitutional monarchy went ape-shit and blew away his entire royal family in their palace before turning his majesty’s murder weapon on himself – all this, apparently, because his parents didn’t approve of his choice for wife. By default, the king’s shifty brother Gyanendra took the throne, making various attempts to get his grubby hands on power and finally dismissing the democratically elected government and imposing an absolute monarchy in early 2005, the bastard. On the pretext of suppressing a bloody ten-year Maoist rebellion, Gyanendra became increasingly tyrannical and the conduct of the Royal Nepalese Army and his security forces increasingly more brutal.

In response, opposition groups formed a seven-party alliance and brought their supporters onto the streets in mass protests – a development known as the Loktandra Andolan (“democracy movement”). Gyanendra then proceeded to piss his royal breeches, declaring on April 21st that he was handing power “back to the people.” Having reconvened parliament, the new government procedurally bitch-slapped Gyanendra by stripping him of all his powers – including command of the military – and of his divinity by declaring Nepal a secular state. Speculation is now rife that the monarchy will be abolished altogether, which would force Gyanendra to make do with his second fanciest title – Knight Grand Cordon of the Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant (awarded by the king of Thailand in 1979, possibly for shooting one but not really sure).

All’s well that ends well? Well, not exactly. There’s still the problem of those pesky Maoists. While it’s probably true that the democratic revolt could not have taken place without their support, the Maoists did start their uprising as an effort to overthrow a democratically-elected government in 1996. Given their devotion to a murderous totalitarian ideology, their commitment to democracy and human rights remains a tad questionable. Granted, the seven-party alliance did extract some useful promises of good behavior through its twelve-point agreement with the Maoists: recognition of elections results and a commitment to multiparty democracy, human rights and the rule of law. But then again, Amnesty International and other human rights groups have been begging the Maoists to make good on similar commitments for years, with little success. (more…)