Nepal– Budding Democracy-Or Headed For Violence?

Lost in daily reports concerning terrorism and the Middle East are interesting developments taking place in the small country of Nepal. In a rather unusual twist of events, a Maoist prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahai, has been sworn in an prime minister and the first act of the new legislature was abolishing the 239 year old monarchy. During the past decade the country has been torn between a Maoist led rebellion and a monarch who wanted to control all power. King Gyanendra from 2005 on tried to rule with an iron fist only to encounter a popular uprising by ordinary citizens who forced him to accept a democratic legislature in 2006. Women, who had limited rights under the monarchy now constitute one third of members of the legislature.

The Maoists still retain their army and it is questionable if they will integrate that armed force into the regular army. A helpful sign is that all parties, including the Maoists, have asked the United Nations to continue assisting the transition to democracy. Will a Maoist government continue adhering to democratic principles is an interesting question.