As the puzzle pieces of Nepal’s fragile transition to peace continue to shift, the IPJ team will return to analyze and take advantage of current windows of opportunities to infuse justice and inclusive participation into local and national processes.
On April 10, two years after the major political parties and the people of Nepal boycotted the municipal elections ordered by King Gyanendra in Feb. 2006, citizens turned out in historic numbers to take democracy into their own hands – and take their opinions to the ballot box. Sixty percent of the 17.6 million registered voters (of a population of 27 million) have cast their vote – electing a peaceful political transition.
Dee Aker, Interim Executive Director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ), served as a short-term observer with The Carter Center’s international election observation mission in Nepal. The Carter Center advised: “the election in Nepal [is] a critical step for the consolidation of multi-party democracy…. The Government of Nepal, including the CPN-M [Community Party of Nepal- Maoists], have welcomed international delegations and have specifically extended an invitation to The Carter Center, together with other international and domestic observers. The Election Commission and other stakeholders have also welcomed this involvement.”
In global politics, however, the measure of democracy is too often reduced to the success on election day alone. The hard work and preparation that created the foundation for elections is often overlooked and, in the wake of polling, campaign promises remain frequently unfulfilled. As international and media attention fades after votes have been counted, the Nepali people are left to build a peaceful, democratic society, a task of Himalayan proportions following a decade of war waged by the CPN-M that took 13,000 lives.
Thus, the IPJ team of Aker and Laura Taylor, Senior Program Officer, will return in May to continue the next stage in the IPJ Nepal Project, “Uniting for a Democratic Peace.” Building on the previous seven years of partnership with Nepal, this series of workshops and consultations with the newly elected members of the constituent assembly will foster political leaders’ partnership with civil society – particularly women and youth – to manage expectations and prepare the population for inclusive public participation and responsive governance, two pillars of democracy.
For more information on the IPJ Nepal Project, visit: http://peace.sandiego.edu/programs/nepal.html