ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Vive la Republique

The monarchy is dead; long live the secular, federal democratic republic of Nepal.

As expected, right at the first sitting of the newly elected constituent assembly (CA), on May 28 Nepal was declared “an independent, indivisible, secular, inclusive, federal democratic republic with sovereignty and state authority vested in the people”. The proposal was overwhelmingly endorsed by the CA – 560 legislators voted for and four against the resolution. This marked the demise of 240 years of rule by the Shah dynasty. True to their promise made before the elections, the main political actors, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) [CPN (UML)] fulfilled the demand for a republic as soon as the CA was convened.

After having established a parliamentary form of democracy in 1990 through a people’s movement, it took years of political uncertainty and instability, a people’s war, and a peace initiative uniting mainstream and radical forces to overthrow the remnants of monarchical rule in the country. The formation of the eight-party alliance – comprising the mainstream political actors and the Maoists – was the first step in the isolation of the monarchy. Over a period of three years, following the people’s movement to restore democratic rule in the aftermath of the complete usurpation of power by Gyanendra (the last king), a gradual shift of power away from the monarchy took place. This involved steps such as shifting ceremonial and cultural privileges, as also, importantly, control of the army to the democratic head (the prime minister), declaration of a secular character for the nation in the interim constitution and building a consensus among the eight-party alliance to convert Nepal into a republic once the CA was convened.

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