"Federal Model and Constitution Writing Challenges in Nepal"

Crossroads Asia lecture with Dr. Mahendra Lawoti (Western Michigan University)

The lecture will happen in cooperation with the magazine Südasien e.V. as well as the Deutsch-Nepalesische Gesellschaft.

Abstract

Even though the peace settlement in 2006 occurred between the government and the armed Maoist rebels, hich was primarily a class based movement, cultural diversity has become the most intractable issue in the constitution writing process in the culturally and geographically diverse Nepal. The oldest state in South Asia has not been able to write its 7th formal constitution despite nine years since the peace settlement, and it is questionable whether it will be able to produce a constitution that is acceptable to wide segments of its people. The presentation will point out why and how the contestation over the federal model to be adopted derailed the first Constituent Assembly (CA), 2008-2012, and continues to challenge the second CA (2013- ). The marginalized groups are demanding a federal structure with 10-14 provinces that will recognize their identities and facilitate self-governance whereas the dominant ethnic group argues that large number of provinces are not viable, and hence they are advocating for 5-7 provinces, which will make them majority or plurality in all or most of those provinces as well as at the center. Both sides have deployed tools at their disposal to pursue their goals, including undermining democratic processes, misinformation campaign through hegemonic control of media, threat of street movements, and so on. The presentation will point out how the dominant group vilified the identity based federalism and undermined the constitution drafting process in the first CA when the identity based federalists, including the Maoists, had more than two-thirds support while the identity based federalists have threatened to hit the streets if their opponents, including the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist, who may be able to garner two-thirds votes in the second CA, deny them recognition and autonomy. In this context, the presentation will discuss prospects for constitutional and political stability, democratization, and development in Nepal.  

Date: Tuesday, March 31st 2015, 3.30-4.30 pm.

Venue: Center for Development Research (ZEF), Walter-Flex-Str. 3; 53113 Bonn.
            Ground Floor, right conference room.