After a little more than seven months Nepal will once again have a government. With more than 17 unsuccessful attempts to elect a prime minister, yesterday CPN-UML (communist party of Nepal- United Marxist Leninist) member Jhalanath Khanal was finally elected after he gained support from the Maoists who withdrew their candidate at the last minute, in what seems to be very clearly a political move despite commentary to the contrary. The vote seems to have caught the Nepali congress party a bit by surprise, and this morning the Sushil Koirala was quoted as saying that they will not join the government in will sit in opposition.
What does all this mean for Nepal? Probably not too much. The Maoists will again be part of the government, which is some reason for concern, but as recent events have shown most people within the constituent assembly have no intention of getting anything done, and as it took over seven months just to form a government, there is little chance that there will be anything close to a constitution formed by the deadline that is coming up in May. A large part of the problem is that the people that are within the assembly have political power and aside from a decent legal salary, there is no doubt that many also get plenty of money that is siphoned in by both legal and not so legal means. When the constitution is actually formed half of the people currently in the CA would be out of a job as the normal parliament is about half the size. Not exactly a great incentive.
Mr. Khanal also doesn't appear to be someone to get too excited about. Although he was part of the pro democracy rallies in both 1990 and again in 2006, his actual accomplishments in parliament have been scarce, at least scarce enough to avoid any searches through Google, and various Nepali news sites. His demeanor in a recent interview that was posted today shows that he stands to be more of the same typical politician here. The last question being the most telling, typical denial in the face of a question and just pushing it aside instead of actually answering what seem to be concerns that are well founded by looking through past archives. His most recent claim to fame was being slapped in the face by a disillusioned constituent while giving a speech. When asked about the incident afterwards he was quoted as saying, "Gnats and flies make no effect."
The guy that slapped him, Devi Prasad Regmi, was quoted as saying, "When I saw Khanal and other leaders, I could not help but slap him, for these are the people who are responsible for ruining the country." The sentiment is shared by many Nepali people, and one wonders how long they will put up with the status quo before there is mass public outcry. When one watches the protests going on through the Middle East and North Africa at the moment you are reminded in some ways of what happened here in 2006. There is the temptation when a tyrant steps down for the population to think that their work is done. Nepal should stand as a reminder that the public must continue to hold politicians feet to the fire or else all they worked for will be done in vain, and those who pretend to lead the country after the worst elements are purged can be just as useless or cruel.
All this negativity aside we can hope that Nepal does begin to move forward, but my thought is that unless the people of Nepal declare that they won't accept the status quo any longer, it will continue to go on as it has.