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Nepal's Election and Beyond International Crisis Group 2008-04-02

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 NEPAL'S ELECTION AND BEYOND
Asia Report N° 149 - 2 April 2008
Crisis Group
WORKING TO PREVENT
CONFLICT WORLDWIDE
 TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS i
I. INTRODUCTION 1
II. THE RUN-UP 2
A. How tite Elections Were Put Back on Track 2
B. Parties and Alliances 3
1. Manifestos and party positioning 3
2. Candidates 4
3. Alliances 4
C. Beyond The Parties 5
D. A Conducive Environment? 6
E. Possible Spoilers 7
III. THE ELECTIONS 8
A. The Electoral System 8
B. The Role of the Election Commission 10
C. THE PREPARATIONS 10
1. Technical preparations 10
2. Security arrangements 11
3. Voter awareness 12
D. POSSIBLE ELECTORAL MALPRACTICE 13
E. ELECTION OBSERVATION 14
IV. THE AFTERMATH 16
A. Repollpng 16
B. The Count 16
C. The Results 17
D. REACTIONS: ACCEPTANCE, APPEAL OR REJECTION 18
V. A CHALLENGING TRANSITION 19
A. A Roadmap for the Interregnum? 19
B. The Constituent Assembly's First Sitting 20
C. Possible Destabilising Factors 21
VI. CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY AND BEYOND 22
A. The Nature of the Constituent Assembly 22
B. TheBigIssues 23
C. Public Participation 24
VII. CONCLUSION 25
APPENDICES
A. Map of Nepal 26
B. Glossary of Acronyms 27
C. About the International Crisis Group 29
D. International Crisis Group Reports and Briefings on Asia 30
E. International Crisis Group Board of Trustees 32
 Crisis Group
WORKING TO PREVENT
CONFLICT WORLDWIDE
Asia Report N°149
2 April 2008
NEPAL'S ELECTION AND BEYOND
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Nepal's peace process faces a crucial test this month.
Elections for a Constituent Assembly (CA) are likely
to go ahead on 10 April 2008 as scheduled but political
unrest and violence could mar - or even derail -
preparations, and the aftermath could bring turbulence.
Elections in a delicate post-conflict situation are never
straightforward and Nepal has many possible flashpoints,
not least that the two armies that fought the war remain
intact, politically uncompromising and combat-ready.
Once results are in, all political players must be prepared
for a difficult period in which they will need to
compromise to make the CA an effective body, extend
the number of parties with a role in government and
urgently tackle crucial issues left aside during the
campaign, including security sector reform. The
international community has an important election
observation function and should listen to Nepal's political
and civil society groups in assessing the credibility of
the process.
Successful elections for a CA charged with writing a new
constitution and serving as an interim legislature would
be a major step forward. It would be a psychological
and concrete achievement for the political leadership
after two failed attempts that would vindicate the
sometimes controversial concessions made to recalcitrant
groups, which made the peace process possible. It would
also be welcomed by the international community. India
wants a successful conclusion to the roadmap it was
closely involved in designing, while credible elections
would open the way to a significant scaling back ofthe
UN role. Although underlying issues remain, holding
the polls would signal the short-term success of the
recent deals with protesting groups.
There are many positive signs. All parties moved quickly
into campaign mode, nominating candidates and
launching programs to attract voters. A vibrant media
reporting news and offering critical scrutiny is narrowing
the deficit in public awareness ofthe electoral system
and party positions. Given the momentum, it would be
hard for any major party to back out ofthe elections,
although some, including the Maoists, are still wary of
the process.
Nevertheless, major challenges remain. The campaign
has been dogged by violence and intimidation. While
the Maoists appear to have been responsible for most
assaults on rival candidates, they have had eight oftheir
party workers killed - a fact which the mainstream
media has chosen to downplay. Public security has been
dismal throughout the ceasefire, and armed groups in
the lowlands have carried out killings, bombings and
abductions and threatened further violence. The
considerable technical challenges of holding an election
have been exacerbated by a complex, nearly opaque
parallel electoral system that involves three separate
means of selecting members of the CA. The widely
respected Election Commission, charged with managing
all aspects ofthe exercise, has no experience of logistics.
In previous elections, those, along with back-up
security, were managed by the army, which the peace
agreement has now largely confined to barracks.
The post-poll period will likely be difficult and
dangerous. Under the best of circumstances, it will
probably take three weeks to determine final results.
Significant repolling is expected to be required in areas
where there was violence or disruption on election day -
adding weeks more to the schedule. There will certainly be
appeals from losing parties, and public frustration at the
delay in learning results may add to a tense atmosphere.
Parties will trade allegations of fraud and violence. The
behaviour of powerful losers will shape the immediate
aftermath. Some, in particular the Maoists, may even
be tempted to reject the entire election: the best possible
results for them will not reflect their actual power on
the ground (exercised through continuing parallel
structures). Royalists cannot hope to gain enough seats
to block the move towards a republic.
Ifthe major political forces accept the results and move
forward without severe confrontation and acrimony, the
transition will be manageable. However, each step will
present obstacles that demand maturity and cooperation
from party leaders. The formation of a new unity
government - which will need to include members
beyond the current seven-party coalition - will prompt
much haggling. The convening ofthe CA, whose first
sitting must take place within three weeks of final poll
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page ii
results and which is set to discard the monarchy, will
be even more problematic. Transitional arrangements
are only vaguely covered by the Interim Constitution;
how they work out in practice will depend on political
compromise. Yet, the CA will have to deal with tough
issues, including the drafting of the constitution and
addressing security sector reform, federalism, the role
ofthe monarchy, secularism and inclusiveness.
While attention has focused on the elections, there has
been no progress on the fundamentals of the peace
process. Many critical agreements have not been
implemented, inter-party consensus and mutual trust
are fragile, and the military ceasefire, which has held
since April 2006, has yet to be transformed into structures
for a sustainable peace. Public aspirations for peace and
socio-economic reform remain high but are matched by
scepticism towards political leaders. This is the best
chance for politicians to redeem themselves.
RECOMMENDATIONS
To the Government of Nepal:
1. Improve security so as to ensure an environment
conducive to free and fair elections on 10 April
2008 by:
(a) providing solid guidance and political
support to the Nepal Police and Armed
Police Force, and training and deploying
temporary police, ensuring they are nonpartisan and carry out their duties with
neutrality;
(b) improving security arrangements for
candidates and party campaign workers;
and
(c) basing all security plans on local
community support and respect for human
rights.
2. Build on the agreements with protesting groups by:
(a) implementing fully the agreements with the
United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF)
and the Federal Republican National Front;
(b) pushing for negotiations with armed
militant groups on an election ceasefire,
while strengthening security in sensitive
areas; and
(c) encouraging moderate Madhesi leaders to
use their influence to urge armed groups
to drop plans to disrupt the polls.
3. Guard against giving openings for Maoist People's
Liberation Army (PLA) and Nepal Army (NA)
militants to assert more influence over proceedings;
clarify the code of conduct for both armies in the
election period; and move urgently to begin
discussions on security sector reform so the PLA
has an incentive to remain in cantonments.
4. Move beyond solely seven-party cooperation to
involve all parties contesting the elections in
discussions on security and the creation of a free
and fair electoral environment.
5. Keep working on other critical elements ofthe
peace process and in particular:
(a) implement the 23-point agreement and
other accords; and
(b) abide by the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA) and ceasefire code of
conduct.
To the Election Commission of Nepal:
6. Enforce the election code of conduct strictly and
impartially, maintaining pressure on all parties to
cease intimidation and other malpractice, such as
the widespread misuse of state resources for
campaigning.
7. Continue with voter education and other publicity
efforts and in particular prepare the public for
potentially slow announcements of results by
increased publicity explaining the count procedure
and realistic timeframes.
8. Make plans for dealing rapidly with politically
sensitive post-election appeals and repolling.
To National Election Observers:
9. Carry out observation and reporting impartially and
professionally, dismissing any observers who are
linked to political parties and avoiding inflammatory
assessments before and after the elections.
To the Media:
10. Adhere to the standards set out in the election
Code of Conduct and exercise responsibility in the
accurate and impartial reporting of election-related
violence.
To the Political Parties:
11. Commit unambiguously to free and fair elections
by:
(a) promising to accept the results of a credible
poll, whatever they may be;
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page iii
(b) abiding by the election code of conduct,
including ceasing all violence and
intimidation;
(c) exercising restraint and responsibility in
mobilising student and youth cadres for
legitimate election campaigning, not as
private security forces; and
(d) educating voters about the electoral system.
12. Prepare for the difficult post-election period by
building cross-party consensus on managing the
transition, including:
(a) forging a minimum agreement on dealing
with post-election recriminations and
maintaining consensus on moving forward;
(b) using formal procedures to resolve any
complaints regarding the election process
or results;
(c) agreeing on the broad framework for
negotiations to form a new government;
and
(d) clarifying and publicising the procedure by
which pre-election agreements, including
the implementation of a federal democratic
republic at the CA's first sitting, will be
implemented.
13. Build common ground on procedural issues such as
the formation of CA committees and the division
of business between the CA as a constitution-
drafting body and as a legislature.
14. Make clear commitments for public participation
in the constitutional process.
To the International Community, in particular
India, China, U.S., EU and UN:
15. Election observers should:
(a) publicise international electoral standards
and the principal benchmarks by which
they will assess the polls, as well as
explain the consequences of failure to
meet those standards and benchmarks;
(b) coordinate their deployment to maximise
coverage across the country and make
the most of relatively small numbers; and
(c) coordinate on main statements to avoid
public confusion and achieve as much
unity as possible on the overall assessment.
16. Condemn all election-related violence, pressure all
parties to abide by the code of conduct and
encourage the Election Commission and security
forces to use their powers in a non-partisan manner.
17. Prepare for the post-election period by:
(a) reminding all parties they must accept
the outcome;
(b) supporting the Election Commission,
politically and practically, on any necessary
repolling;
(c) urging and supporting the formation of a
power-sharing unity government; and
(d) listening to judgments by Nepali political
and civil society groups in assessing the
credibility ofthe electoral process.
18. Offer technical and financial assistance for
establishing mechanisms to ensure meaningful
public participation in the constitutional process
and work to coordinate proposed training and
orientation programs for CA members.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 2 April 2008
 Crisis Group
WORKING TO PREVENT
CONFLICT WORLDWIDE
Asia Report N°149
2 April 2008
NEPAL'S ELECTION AND BEYOND
INTRODUCTION
The December 2007 deal that brought the Maoists back
into government and the February 2008 agreement to
end a second Madhesi movement in the Tarai plains
put Nepal's Constituent Assembly (CA) elections back
on track.1 The seven-party governing coalition remains
at loggerheads on many issues, but all its components
insist they want the elections to go ahead as scheduled
on 10 April 2008.2
The country has considerable experience of elections.
Following the first general elections in 1959, the
Panchayat period of palace rule offered little chance
for meaningful polls, and a 1980 referendum on the
Panchayat system was widely seen as rigged. But 1991
multiparty elections managed a smooth transition to
democratic rule. The general elections of that year as
well as 1994 and 1999 were regarded as broadly free
and fair (despite local malpractices by most parties),
were well managed considering the logistical challenges,
and had high turnouts.3 This is, however, the first time
Nepalis will elect a constitution-drafting body, though
calls for such an assembly go back to the early 1950s.4
Most parties are treating the campaign in the same
manner as past general elections. This is encouraging
insofar as it suggests a return to normality but indicates
they are underplaying the significantly different role a
CA will play - even though it will also function as a
legislature. The sense of comfort is likewise fragile. The
momentum to hold the polls appears unstoppable, but
last-minute hurdles could still delay or derail the process,
especially if major players become more worried about
the likely results.
1 On the impasse before the 23 December 2007 agreement,
see Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°72, Nepal: Peace Postponed,
18 December 2007. Other recent Crisis Group reporting on
Nepal includes Asia Briefing N°68, Nepal's Fragile Peace
Process, 28 September 2007; and Asia Reports N°136, Nepal's
Troubled Tarai Region, 9 July 2007; N°132, Nepal's Maoists:
Purists or Pragmatists?, 18 May 2007; and N°128, Nepal's
Constitutional Process, 26 February 2007. Nepali translations
are available at www.crisisgroup.org. Useful online sources of
election-related information include: Election Commission of
Nepal (www.elecfion.gov.np); the UN mission (UNMIN) elections
page (www.unmin.org.np/?d=peaceprocess&p= election); and
Nepal Election Portal (www.nepalelection portal.org).
2 In this report, the term "seven parties" refers to the governing
coalition of six parliamentary parties and the Communist
Party of Nepal (Maoist, CPN(M)). The "six parties" are the
continuation of the Seven-Party Alliance, whose membership
was reduced when the Nepali Congress and Nepali Congress
(Democratic) reunited. Past Crisis Group reporting referred
to this alliance as the SPA, a term that is now widely used to
refer to the six plus the CPN(M) - although there is no
"alliance" binding them. The six parties are the Nepali
Congress (NC); Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-
Leninist, UML); Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi, NSP
(A)); Janamorcha Nepal; Nepal Workers and Peasants Party
(NWPP); and United Left Front (ULF).
Voter turnout was 65.15 per cent in 1991, 61.86 per cent in
1994 and 65.79 per cent in 1999, Election Commission at
www.election.gov.np/EN/prevelection.hnnl.
4 On the history ofthe constituent assembly proposal, see Crisis
Group Asia Report N°99, Towards a Lasting Peace in Nepal:
The Constitutional Issues, 15 June 2005, pp. 36-38; on its
November 2005 adoption by the mainstream-Maoist alliance,
see Crisis Group Asia Report N°106, Nepal's New Alliance:
The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists, 28 November 2005.
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 2
II.     THE RUN-UP
A.    How the Elections Were Put Back
ON TRACK
By December 2007 the peace process was at an impasse.
The Maoists walked out ofthe interim government on
18 September when new demands were not met by the
other parties.5 Negotiations on a deal to bring them back
into government and set another date for the twice-
delayed elections were stalled until a flurry of talks
achieved success on 23 December.
The 23-point agreement between the six governing
parties and the Maoists addressed the main issues,
committing to making Nepal a federal democratic
republic as soon as the CA convenes and to implementing
still incomplete aspects ofthe peace process.6 A third
amendment to the Interim Constitution (IC) on 28
December reflected the new commitments, most notably
the implementation of the republic at the CA's first
sitting, an increase in the number of CA seats to be
elected by proportional representation (PR) and
clarification that the king no longer has any powers,
and the prime minister will officiate as head of state
until the republic is implemented.7 The Maoists rejoined
the government on 30 December, with their previous
five ministerial positions and two additional state
ministers.8 The 10 April election date was announced
on 11 January 2008.
The road forward was not smooth. The Madhesi
Janadhikar Forum (MJF), which had spearheaded the
Madhesi movement of January-February 2007, was
joined  in  December 2007  by Rajendra Mahato's
On these demands and the walkout, see Crisis Group
Briefing, Nepal's Fragile Peace Process, op. cit.
6 TTie 23-point agreement is at www.unmin.org.np/downloads/
keydocs/2007-12-24-23.Point.Agreement.SPA.NEP.pdf;   an
unofficial English translation is at http://www.rrnmin.org.np/
downloads/keydocs/2007-12-24-23.Pomt.Agreement.SPA.ENG
pdf.
7 Interim Constitution, Art. 159. A bilingual edition of the
Interim Constitution has been published by the UN Development
Programme (the Nepali original is authoritative) and is at
www.undp.org.np/constitutionbuilding/constitutionnepal/con
stitutionfile/InterimConstitutionbilingual.pdf.
8 The CPN(M) ministers are Krishna Bahadur Mahara
(information and communications); Dev Gurung (local
development); Matrika Yadav (forest and soil conservation);
Hisila Yami (physical planning and infrastructure); and
Pampha Bhusal (women, children and social welfare). State
ministers are Nabin Kumar Biswokarma (women, children
and social welfare) and Padam Rai (local development).
Sadbhavana Party (which had split from the Nepal
Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi), NSP(A), which
remained in the government) and a new party, the
Tarai Madhesi Democratic Party (TMDP), established
by former Nepali Congress (NC) minister Mahant
Thakur. These three parties formed a loose alliance,
the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), which
launched a new wave of protests from 19 January 2008
and an indefinite Tarai bandh (shutdown) from 13
February, demanding greater representation in the CA
polls and a single Madhesi federal state. Some ofthe
protests were provocative, even violent (one armed
police officer was killed); a harsh state response led to
the deaths of six protestors.9 Although the shutdown hit
the country hard, producing shortages and price-hikes
in Kathmandu, it was not sufficient to disrupt the
nomination of candidates for the elections. With both
sides under pressure to negotiate, India stepped in to
take a surprisingly public mediation role, hosting some
critical talks in its embassy.
After frantic last-minute haggling during which MJF
leader Upendra Yadav threatened to pull out, the
government and the UDMF signed an eight-point
agreement on 28 February.10 The deal was enough to
call off the protests, and there were both victory rallies
and widespread relief in Tarai towns. However, its
content was vague, and it was not clear that either side
had made serious concessions other than to allow
election preparations to go ahead. Thanks to a deadline
extension by the Election Commission, the Madhesi
parties filed nominations, as did former royalist Prime
Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa's Rashtriya Janashakti
Party (RJP), which had threatened a boycott ifthe Tarai
issue was not resolved.
Madhesis were not the only determined protestors. A
coalition of hill and Tarai ethnic groups had formed a
Federal Republican National Front (FRNF), which also
called strikes and threatened to disrupt the elections.11
Three days after the Madhes deal, the government
See "Summary of human rights concerns arising from the
Terai protests of 13-29 February 2008", Office ofthe High
Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, Kathmandu, 27
March 2008.
10 TTie eight-point agreement is at www.unmin.org.np/downloads
/keydocs/2008-02-28- Agreement.SPA.Govt.UDMF.NEP. pdf;
an unofficial English translation is at http://www.unmin.org.
np/downloads/keydocs/2008-02-28-Agreement. SPA. GovtUD
MF.ENG.pdf.
11 The FRNF brings together the Federal Limbuwan State
Council (Lingden) and the Tamangsaling Autonomous State
Council (which had already united as the Federal Democratic
National Forum), the United Tharu National Front, Madheshi
People's Rights Forum (Biswas/Gupta), Dalit Janajati Party,
Loktantrik Madheshi Morcha and Madheshi Loktantrik Morcha.
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 3
concluded a five-point agreement with the FRNF, which
brought an end to its protests, by promising a federal
republic that would emphasise the rights of ethnic groups
and guarantee their proportional representation in all
branches ofthe state.12
Elections once more appeared possible, but the
agreements that cleared the way were reached under
great external pressure, and their durability has been
in question from the start. Some of the seven parties
themselves were quick to repudiate the eight-point
agreement, while the Nepal Army (NA) insisted it would
not accept group Madhesi recruitment. Other elements
may or may not materialise. A sceptical observer
commented: 'You have a government that can't provide
electricity or collect rubbish promising the details of a
federal system that's yet to be agreed upon".13 There
has been almost no progress on the fundamentals of
the peace process, including implementation of the
23-point agreement. Seven-party consensus is fragile
and relations often antagonistic.
B.       PARTIES AND ALLIANCES
1.       Manifestos and party positioning
The parties moved rapidly into election mode. The
Maoists were the first to start mass training to prepare
their activists for the campaign, but others quickly
followed, building on their interrupted preparations for
the postponed November 2007 polls. The Maoists were
also the first of the major parties to publish their
manifesto, on 7 March, quickly followed by the
Communist Party (Unified Marxist-Leninist, UML)
on 9 March and the NC on 13 March.
The major parties' manifestos follow similar patterns.
Each starts with a lengthy analysis of recent history, and
each claims the party is best placed to fulfil the mandate
ofthe April 2006 people's movement. Each stresses
the significance ofthe constitution-writing process -
the NC, for example, stating that it is the chance to
create a new sense of "we, the people of Nepal"14 - but
large parts of the NC and UML manifestos read more
like a standard plan for government. No party devotes
much attention to explaining the electoral system, setting
out plans for the functioning ofthe CA or ensuring public
participation in the process. However, the Maoists offer
more detail than the others in most areas relevant to the
CA, notably a proposed map of ethnic-based autonomous
states. Key features ofthe manifestos include:
Nepali Congress. The NC stresses the party's
longstanding commitment to liberal multiparty democracy
and reminds voters that in 1950 it was the first to call for
an elected assembly to frame a constitution. It urges a
broadly Westminster/Indian government structure, with
an upper and lower house, a prime minister-led
government and a ceremonial president.
CPN(UML). The UML sees the CA's main objectives
as democracy, lasting peace and progressive policies
and stresses its own history of struggle and determination
to bring change. Although it talks of the need for
consensus in the CA, it appeals for votes to ensure it
leads the next government, which it says will be formed
according to the proportion of seats won by each party
and will "play an important role in the constitution-
making process".15 It calls for a directly-elected prime
minister to head the executive and a ceremonial president.
CPN(Maoist). The Maoists are most emphatic in
reminding voters that "the election of a constituent
assembly is not the same as the usual five-yearly
parliamentary elections".16 They devote eleven pages
to an analysis of Nepal's historic problems (feudalism
and imperialism), the democratic movement as a fusion
oftheir people's war and the people's movement, the
regressive conspiracies of the feudal monarchy and the
weaknesses of the parliamentary parties in comparison
to the clarity and conviction ofthe Maoist revolutionaries.
The CPN(M) personalises its appeal by highlighting
the claim of its leader, Prachanda, to the executive
presidency of a new, republican Nepal. It argues that
as the only party to put forward the new agenda of a
republic and state restructuring, it is the only one that
can be trusted to implement that agenda.17 In many
policy areas, the Maoists offer compromise, such as
embracing public-private partnership,18 and they make
the kind of promises associated with a parliamentary
election, such as eradicating illiteracy and ensuring
clean drinking water for all within five years.19
Smaller leftist parties. Janamorcha Nepal has proposed
a balance of power between an executive president and
The five-point government-FRNF agreement is at www.un
mfn.org.np/downloads/keydocs/2008-03-02-Agreement. SPA.
Govt.FRNF.NEP.pdf; an unofficial English translation is at
www.urmiinorg.np/downloads/keydocs/2008-03-02-Agieement.
SPA.Govt.FRNF.ENG.pdf.
13 Crisis Group interview, international expert, 9 March 2008.
14 NC manifesto, p. 4.
15 UML manifesto, p. 38.
16 CPN(M) commitmentpPaper, p. 7.
17 Ibid, p. 37.
18 Ibid, p. 25. Maoist leaders stress that this is part of their
"New Transitional Economic Policy" and does not reflect
any weakening of long-term commitment to socialism, Crisis
Group interview, Baburam Bhattarai, 14 March 2008.
19 CPN(M) commitment paper, p. 29.
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 4
a prime minister, the former to be directly elected and
the latter to be chosen by the upper and lower houses of
parliament. It also calls for halting commercialisation of
the education sector. The Nepal Workers and Peasants'
Party (NWPP) has called for a powerful president, with
no prime minister and proposes to convert the existing
geographically delimited zones into provinces with
legislatures, rather than divisive forms of federalism.20
CPN(ML), another small communist party, has proposed
a directly elected prime minister, a ceremonial president
appointed by the parliament and seven federal states. The
CPN (United) has one unique proposition: equally
powerful parliaments at the central and provincial level.
Madhesi parties. The TMDP still calls for a single,
autonomous Madhesi province across the entire Tarai.
A prime minister would hold executive power and a ban
is proposed on no-confidence motions for one year to
ensure "political stability". The MJF wants a president
as chief executive, continues to demand Madhesi group
recruitment into the army and proposes a trilingual official
language policy (local mother tongues, Nepali and Hindi),
with English as the national language. The Sadbhavana
Party led by Rajendra Mahato calls for a prime minister-
led government with a ceremonial president, elected
provincial and central legislatures and autonomous
provinces ruled by chief ministers. Madhesi leader Ramraja
Prasad Singh's Navajanabadi Morcha has proposed a
rotating presidency shared between incumbents from the
hill, mountain and Tarai regions.21
Royalist parties. Only the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party
(Nepal), the RPP(N), headed by the king's former home
minister, Kamal Thapa, is campaigning on an explicitly
monarchist platform, demanding that the future ofthe
monarchy be decided by a referendum and calling for
its continuation as a constitutional entity. The Rashtriya
Prajatantra Party (RPP) and the Rashtriya Janashakti
Party (RJP) are more ambivalent towards the palace;
both have publicly stated, though not in their manifestos,
that they will accept the CA vote as legitimate authority
for determining the monarchy's future. The RJP
explicitly calls for the constitution drafted by the CA
to be "directly ratified by the people"; the RPP says
"people" should decide the future ofthe monarchy with
"their direct participation".22 It does, however, embrace
the concept of federalism and calls for an ethnically
based upper house. The RPP's manifesto is silent on the
monarchy and calls for state restructuring to guarantee
It also called for separate national and provincial citizenship,
compulsory army training and a ban on foreign bank accounts.
21 "Nawa Janabadi Morcha unveils manifesto", The Rising
Nepal, 17 March 2008.
22 RJP and RPP manifestos.
"inclusive multiparty democracy", with federal states
run by chief ministers.
2. Candidates
Candidate selection was a major challenge for the parties.
The distribution of party tickets is always a contested
affair; because ofthe parallel electoral system and the
new quotas for various communities, it became even
harder, especially for the larger parliamentary parties,
whose leaders had to juggle the expectations of their
many established workers and incumbent parliamentarians
with the need to offer the electorate new faces.
The NC has a high proportion of older candidates, many
the same ones active in every election since 1991. Of
its first-past-the-post (FPTP) candidates, the youngest
is 31, most (175) are between 41 and 59 and 44 are 60
or above; the UML is only slightly different23 In contrast,
the CPN(M) has a young profile, with an average age for
its FPTP candidates of 39.24 The Maoists also present
by far the most diverse selection of FPTP candidates,
with eleven Dalits, 73 janajatis and 63 Madhesis. The
UML and the NC field the bare minimum of women
candidates, only 26 each for 240 FPTP seats.25 Many
of these have been selected for seats which they have
little chance of winning. In sixteen districts and 67
constituencies, there is not a single woman candidate.26
The Maoists have nominated 42 women, as well as
several serving members oftheir People's Liberation
Army (PLA), in contravention ofthe peace agreement.27
The Madhesi parties have opted largely for middle- and
higher-caste candidates. The MJF, for example, has 25
Yadavs and almost no women. The TMDP has four
women out of 94 FPTP candidates, the Sadbhavana
Party four out of 87 and the MJF three out of 103.
3. Alliances
Despite the multitude of parties, there is still a broadly
discernible left-right split. The leftist parties are the
Maoists, UML, the Janamorcha, NWPP and CPN(ML),
Only ten UML candidates are over 60; 52 are between 29
and 40 and 121 between 41 and 50. For an assessment of youth
issues and representation see Dipendra Tamang, "Youth
Representation In CA", The Rising Nepal, 10 March 2008.
24 45 candidates are less than 30; 101 candidates are between
31 and 40 and 60 between 41 and 50.
25 On the various quotas, see Section III below.
26 "16 jilla ra 67 kshetrama mahila ummedavar shunya",
Naya Patrika, 24 March 2008.
27 See "Election Report No. 1", JJNMfN, Kathmandu, 22 March
2008, at www.urrniin.org.np/downloads/publications/2008-
03 -22-UNMINElection.Report. 1 .ENG.pdf.
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Page 5
as well as a handful of smaller groups. Those towards
the right are the NC (although it describes itself as
socialist), the royalists and the various Madhesi parties,
which are all more or less anti-leftist. However, there
are other ways of categorising the parties: in many ways
UML and NC similarities as centrist parliamentary
parties outweigh their differences.
The major parties have been expected to agree on a seat-
sharing deal under which their top leaders would be
elected without serious opposition, but they are reluctant
to discuss this publicly and have sent mixed signals
about it. An arrangement would concern the FPTP
portion of the elections, in which candidates can in
effect withdraw to allow their opponents a clear run (it is
too late for them to cancel their candidacies formally,
so any deal must be well publicised to voters).28 Even
if party leaders overcome their mutual antagonism to
reach such an accommodation, however, it may be
difficult to ensure that local activists and candidates
respect it.
On the left, Janamorcha has withdrawn some candidates
in the interest of unity (for example, pulling out of
Madhav Nepal's Kathmandu constituency), but the
larger parties are still at loggerheads. The Maoists have
pushed hard for a left alliance and called for a grand
alliance of progressive and nationalist forces.29 Sceptics
suggest this stems from concern they would not do well
on their own. The Maoists themselves argue that there
have been longstanding agreements to unite around a
common minimum program, and a broad alliance is
particularly appropriate for CA elections, which should
be different from the usual scramble for parliamentary
power.30 They have reacted to the UML's reluctance
to forge such an alliance by accusing it of betrayal under
outside pressure. Domestic and international forces
In most constituencies in which senior leaders are standing,
opposing parties have fielded weaker candidates. For example:
Maoists chair Prachanda will be facing a second-rung UML
leader, Sanu Maharjan, and the unknown Rajan K.C. from
NC. Local alliances have formed in many parts of the
country, mostly between the leftist parties.
29 For example, Prachanda repeated the call for such an alliance
the day after the CPN(M) launched its manifesto. "Prachanda
says 'nationalists' and republicans should join forces in polls",
nepalnews.com, 8 March 2008.
30 The CPA specifies a common minimum program for the
interim government, but this does not apply to electoral
arrangements or constitutional deliberations: "Tlie conduct of
business of the Government of Nepal shall be carried out
consistently with the aspirations of the united people's
movement, political consensus and culture of mutual
cooperation. TTie common minimum programme prepared
through mutual agreement shall be the basis of the policies of
the Government of Nepal", CPA, Art. 43(1).
have indeed leaned on the UML to dissuade it from
joining with the Maoists, but the party's reluctance also
stems from confidence it can do well on its own. It
has generally left it to local party leaders to decide on
cooperation but has not closed the door altogether on a
nationwide deal.31 Holding out the prospect of an alliance
may be the UML's attempt to keep Maoist attacks on
its activists in check: the rash of violence after it had
initially refused a deal suggested a deliberate Maoist
response.
Madhesi parties united to form the UDMF but have been
divided over their election plans. Although they are not
intensively contesting each other in some constituencies,
they could not agree on a functional alliance. The
Sadbhavana Party and TMDP did eventually manage
a deal, but the more prominent MJF has not joined them.
Their divisions may cost them dearly. Analysts suspect
they will not win more than 50 seats among them, which
would mean that most Madhesi delegates will belong to
the major parties.32 On the royalist front, the RJP and
RPP have avoided fielding candidates against each other
but face competition with Kamal Thapa's RPP(N).
C.       BEYOND THE PARTIES
The public. The general public want elections but doubt
politicians' sincerity or ability to make them happen,
though the recent momentum has assuaged some doubts.
If intimidation - already a problem in some areas - at
least does not increase, turnout could be high. The
incumbent parties should all be worried that the interim
government's dismal record on basic services will count
against them: little has been done to ensure security,
deliver basic services and utilities or cushion significant
price rises for food and petroleum products. However,
dissatisfaction on these matters is unlikely to generate
major street protests or stimulate an election boycott.
The media. The increasingly sophisticated media has
already played a major role by both disseminating basic
election information and scrutinising parties and
candidates critically. The press has analysed party lists,
exposed malpractices such as dummy candidates and
offered a vehicle for policies to be communicated and
debated. The significance of private FM radio and
television stations has grown hugely (they hardly existed
in 1999, at the time ofthe last elections). In addition
Crisis Group interviews, UML and CPN(M) central
leaders and district activists, March 2008. See also "UML
chief rules out possibility of alliance with Maoists at the
centre", nepalnews.com, 9 March 2008.
32 See, for example, Prashant Jha, "Murkier and murkier",
Nepali Times, 21 March 2008.
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Page 6
to carrying donor-funded, election-related programs,
they have developed their own high-quality discussion
and interview shows. State radio and television have
also shown greater professionalism. However, there
are questions about their impartiality, since the Maoists
run the information and communications ministry.
Equally, there are questions about the political inclinations
of the private media, most of which have been quick
to castigate Maoist misbehaviour but softer on other
parties, especially the NC.
Overall, the media has had trouble adjusting its outlook
and coverage to the delicate transitional situation. Much
election reporting has been along traditional party lines and
has downplayed or ignored the additional sensitivities
ofthe conflict context. The media is subject to a code of
conduct in the electoral period (in force since 9 March
2008),33 the observance of which is being monitored by
the Nepal Press Council. This government-appointed
watchdog has yet to show signs of being a stem referee,
despite much inflammatory and inaccurate reporting.
Civil society. Its leaders resent accusations that civil
society has become divided and partisan, no longer
commanding its earlier respect or influence. "Remember
we dragged the parties to where they are today", one
said. "If we hadn't, there would never have been a
people's movement or peace process".34 Civil society's
active role has helped move the peace process forward,
but criticisms of partisanship and personal rivalry are
not unfounded. Many human rights organisations and
election observers (see below) have party leanings. Some
prominent activists are campaigning for parties or even
standing for election, for example, Daman Nath
Dhungana, who has returned to the NC. Nevertheless,
influential civil society voices are maintaining some
pressure on the parties to abide by electoral norms and
deliver the results the peace process promised. Many
who lack party leanings are disillusioned at the speed
with which the parties have returned to business as
usual, with only the Maoists willing to nominate some
outside individuals.
What is often referred to as "the media code of conduct" is
actually Part 4 of the general election Code of Conduct issued
by the Election Commission, at www.election.gov.np/NP/
electioncode/index.php. An unofficial English translation is
at www.nepalmonitor. com/2008/02/ecs_nepal_media_code_
of_conduct_drrring_ca_elections-print.html.
34 Crisis Group interview, civil society leader, Kathmandu,
13 March 2008.
D.      A CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT?
Despite the positive mood generated by the momentum
towards elections, there are clear signs that not only
the campaign but also its aftermath will be fraught with
tension. For all the rhetoric of uniting to build a new
Nepal, most parties are preparing for aggressive
competition. On 1 April, leaders ofthe three main parties
signed a ten-point pact promising to cease misconduct and
establishing monitoring and coordination mechanisms to
build a free and fair environment.35 However, past
evidence suggests that signatures on paper do not readily
translate into improved behaviour.
There have been at least nine election-related murders:
one victim a National People's Front candidate in Banke,
all the others Maoist activists.36 On 29 March, two
people died when a Biratnagar mosque was bombed,
an act for which the shadowy Nepal Defence Army
claimed responsibility. There have also been dozens
of assaults on party workers engaged in campaign
activities. RPP Chair Pashupati Shamsher Rana
commented: "This will not be an election, it's a battle".37
Maoist leaders have described the elections as the next
stage in their "war" for revolutionary transformation.38
Domestic and international human rights bodies and
observers have warned of misconduct and condemned
the killings and other acts of violence and intimidation.39
The Maoists have been accused of the most systematic
misconduct, in particular a series of attacks on royalist
party workers and apparently concerted efforts to disrupt
their campaigns. In pre-poll observation, the respected
but UML-linked human rights organisation INSEC
reported Maoists were responsible for 97 per cent of
An unofficial English translation of the ten-point agreement
is at www.rrrmrfn.org.np/downloads/keydocs/2008-04-01-10.
Point.Agreement.NCUML.CPNMENG.pdf
36 The mainstream media has paid little attention to the killing
of Maoist workers. On the seven deaths, see "Ek mahinama
sat maobadiko hatya", Naya Patrika, 23 March 2008.
37 Crisis Group interview, RPP Chair Pashupati Shamsher
Rana, Kathmandu, 14 March 2008.
38 Prachanda, election campaign address, Kirtipur, 12 March
2008. The CPN(M)'s internal handbook for party workers
includes instructions on election preparations from the chief of
its schooling department. The main elements are: political and
ideological preparation; organisational preparation; technical
preparation; and preparation for retaliation Dharmendra Bastola,
"Sarnvidhansabhako chunav ra chartayariko prashna", CPN(M)
schooling department, 2008.
39 For example, see "OHCHR-Nepal calls on political actors
to ensure respect for human rights in CA elections", Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, press
release, Kathmandu, 14 March 2008.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 7
violations of the code of conduct.40 As well as beatings
and harassment, there have been a few abductions. The
aggressive language of party leaders may well encourage
cadres to this course. All major parties plan to mobilise
their youth wings to support door-to-door canvassing
and be present at polling booths; they will likely also
serve, as in the past, as muscle to protect candidates or
threaten voters. In the words ofthe RPP chair, "the state
isn't able to provide adequate security, so each party
will try to make their own private arrangements".41
Candidates, their party colleagues and election officials
may face the most direct threats, but intimidation of
the general public could be as damaging. Many Tarai
districts have no-go areas for some candidates, and the
threat of armed action remains explicit. The continued
absence of local government officials suggests a far from
normal atmosphere, which may be off-putting to election
and security officials.42 International experts warn that
policing plans do little to restore public confidence.43
Voter participation in past general elections has
consistently been over 60 per cent (66 per cent in the
most recent). If turnout for the CA polls is significantly
lower - whether through fear or disinterest - it could
undermine the legitimacy ofthe exercise. Low turnout
in particular areas, or partial boycotts, could spark
renewed regional tensions. The main threat to wide
participation is intimidation. In the face of direct threats
from Madhesi militant groups and indirect warnings from
the Maoists (and sometimes other parties), many voters
may decide to stay at home. Poor turnout could have
specific electoral ramifications: for example, harming
the traditional NC vote, since older voters with family
and property to worry about may be more influenced
by threats. On the other hand, low youth participation
- possible since many young men work abroad or away
from their home constituencies,44 and several thousand
young adults are missing from the electoral roll45
could harm the Maoists.
E.      POSSIBLE SPOILERS
Armed militant groups. Several Tarai-based groups
threaten to disrupt the elections and have already carried
out violence, but they are more politically isolated than
before: people are tired of bloodshed and keen for elections.
They also face a more serious security crackdown, with
both deployment of additional armed police (APF) in
sensitive districts and tougher cross-border controls.46
Despite encouraging signals from some ministers, Prime
Minister Koirala seemed to close the door on
negotiations;47 however, Peace and Reconstruction
Minister Ramchandra Poudel wrote to armed groups
on 21 March inviting talks.48 There were hopes they
could agree to at least a ceasefire, but on 29 March the
groups that had indicated a willingness to negotiate
announced they would not talk, as the government
had failed to meet their preconditions. They could
disrupt the polls - attacks on election officials could
prompt widespread fear and lead to some deserting their
posts, a pattern seen with local government officials -
but are unlikely to derail them entirely. Apart from
the armed groups with political agendas, the
numerous criminal gangs could take advantage of the
election situation or be used by other forces for
disruption.
Maoists. The Maoists' public enthusiasm for the
elections seems at odds with near universal expectations
that they will fare poorly in them. Some suspect they may
try to postpone the vote at the last minute if they are
convinced they will do badly; there are signs they plan to
re-evaluate their policy a few days before the polls. They
could easily make elections impossible but only if they
were willing to sacrifice their credibility, domestically
and internationally. Few would forgive them if they were
Crisis Group interview, Subodh J°yakurel, INSEC, 21 March
2008. The Code of Conduct is available (in Nepali only) at
www.election.gov.np/NP/electioncode/index.php.
41 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 14 March 2008.
42 For example, the Democracy and Election Alliance Nepal
(DEAN) reported that 23 Tarai constituencies are acutely fearful
of elections; two (Dang-5 and Mahottari-5) are off limits to
election observers, social workers and even parties. Crisis
Group interview, Subhadayak Shah, DEAN, 21 March 2008.
43 See "Public safety and policing in Nepal: an analysis of
public attitudes towards community safety and policing across
Nepal", Saferworld, January 2008, at www.saferworld.org.uk/
images/pubdocs/Policfng_in_Nepal_English.pdf.
44 For example, an estimated 25,000 registered voters in the
western district of Myagdi alone are away from home (mainly
working overseas) and unable to vote. "25,000 to miss polls
in Myagdi", The Himalayan Times, 26 March 2008.
45 Only those who reached eighteen by 15 December 2006
are on the roll. See Section III C(l) below.
46 India has promised to do more to crack down on cross-border
crime and the activities of armed groups. There has been more
progress on the Uttar Pradesh-Nepal border than on the (more
sensitive) Bihar-Nepal border. Neither Indian state government
is led by parties represented in the central government, and it
is likely border security efforts will be inconsistent. See also
"India won't tolerate activities that can affect polls: Indian
envoy", nepalnews.com, 18 March 2008.
47 Binod Bhandari and Lila Ballav Ghimire, "No talks with armed
groups before polls: PM', The Kathmandu Post, 10 March 2008.
48 "Sashastra samuhalai vartanimti patrachar", Gorkhapatra,
22 March 2008. The groups invited were the Madhesi Mukti
Tigers, United Tarai Janatantrik Morcha (formerly the JTMM(G)),
JTMM(J) and Tarai Cobras.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page <
seen to be undermining the process. Although some
within the party would shrug off public condemnation,
the leadership would be unlikely to risk it.
Royalists. Politicians close to the palace insist that only
the Maoists are likely to cause trouble. "No one else
will try to disrupt the polls", said former prime minister
and RJP leader Surya Bahadur Thapa.49 However, most
observers - including some sympathetic to the king -
suspect ardent monarchists are unlikely to accept the
elections with equanimity and may try to stall the process.
Ifthe polls go ahead, parties formally committed to a
republic are certain to win a majority, an unsettling
prospect for royalists. Maoist leaders speak of palace
conspiracies and say they have reliable information some
are planning violence, including assassinations.50 Still,
chances of halting the process are slim. "What can the
king do?" asked one political analyst. "He could sponsor
a major destabilising incident such as a bombing or
instigate or take advantage of other tensions, unrest or
public disorder - but none of these is likely to halt the
polls altogether".51
Other factors. Lack of will in the major parties was a
major cause of past delays and could still be a problem
ifthe NC or UML feared crushing defeat. This does not
appear likely, although any rise in Maoist intimidation
or serious evidence of attempts at widespread rigging
could change the picture. UDMF members may worry
that their prospects are poor but would find it hard to
back out or cause disruption now that they have signed a
deal. Technical and logistical challenges are probably
likelier than that individual parties will back out,
although these could be seized on as an excuse for
postponement by the nervous.
III.   THE ELECTIONS
Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 16 March 2008.
50 Prachanda, public address in Kirtipur, 12 March 2008.
Crisis Group interview, Baburam Bhattarai, 14 March 2008.
51 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, March 2008.
A.       THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM
The electoral system is a parallel one, with first-past-
the-post (FPTP) and, for the first time, proportional
representation (PR) contests.52 Voters will elect 240
members of the constituent assembly in direct,
constituency-based FPTP contests and 335 through
party list-based PR ones. The interim cabinet will
nominate a further 26 members by consensus.53 The
total of 601 seats is greater than was originally envisaged
(and far more than the 205 seats of past elected
parliaments). This resulted from demands for greater
representation in the Tarai and more weighting to the
PR contest. There are 9,788 polling centres, with one to
three booths each, a total of 20,866 polling booths.
The FPTP contest is simple: in each constituency, the
candidate with the most votes wins. There are 3,954
registered candidates from 55 parties for the 240 FPTP
seats.54 The whole country is a single constituency for the
PR contest, in which voters will vote for parties, each
of which must have registered a list of at least 34
The main electoral legislation includes the Election
Commission Act 2063 (2006); Election (Offences and
Punishment) Act, 2063 (2007); Election to the Members ofthe
Constituent Assembly Act, 2064 (2007); Act relating to Electoral
Rolls, 2063 (2006); Rules relating to Electoral Rolls, 2063 (2006);
Rules Relating to Electoral Rolls, 2063(2007); Constituent
Assembly Court Act 2064 (2007); Political Party Registration
(for the purpose of Election) Regulation 2063 (2006); Regulation
relating to the Election to the Members of the Constituent
Assembly, 2064 (2007); as well as various policies and
directives. The acts and regulations are available (mostly in
Nepali and English tranlsation) at the Election Commission
website, www.elecfion.gov.np. A useful summary of the legal
framework governing elections is available at www.nepal
electionportal.org/EN/election-laws/. TTie Constitutional Advisory
Support Unit (CASU) of UNDP has made available a selection of
Interim Constitution provisions relevant to the CA (although it
does not take account of the third amendment), at
www.undp.org.np/constitutionbuilding/elibrary/constitutionn
epaWC%20CA%20Provisions.pdf
53 These should be drawn from "distinguished persons and
persons from among ethnic and indigenous groups who fail
to be represented as a result of elections ... who have made
significant contributions to national life", Interim Constitution,
Art. 63(3)(c).
54 The first amendment to the Interim Constitution set up a
Constituency Delimitation Commission to redraw boundaries
and increase constituencies from the earlier 205. Interim
Constitution, Arts. 63(3, 3A) and 154A). The list of revised
constituencies is available (in Nepali only) at www.elecfion.
gov.np/NP/pdf/chhetra2063 .pdf.
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Page 9
names.55 There are some 6,000 candidates on the lists of
54 parties. Each party will select its winning
candidates from any position on its list once the
Election Commission announces how many seats it
has won. (The fact that the numbered lists have been
presented as if they are ranked may confuse or
disappoint voters if the parties select names that were
low on the lists.56) That number will be calculated by a
system that slightly favours larger parties.57
Parties must abide by certain quotas.58 Women must be
at least half their PR list and at least half of those they
select to fill PR seats they win; across both election
contests, parties must field at least 33 per cent women
candidates.59 This means that if women FPTP candidates
are allotted losing seats, female delegates could make
up less than 30 per cent of the CA. Other PR quotas
include: Dalits, 13 per cent,60 "oppressed and indigenous",
37.8 per cent, "backward region", 4 per cent,61 Madhesi,
31.2 per cent and "others" (groups not mentioned
elsewhere in the list) 30.2 per cent.62 These apply only
The major parties have submitted lists with 335 candidates.
All lists are at www.elecfion.gov.np/reports/report/reportBody.
php?selectedMenu=PR%20Party%20wise%20(Close%20List).
56 Some parties, notably the CPN(M) and RJP, have carefully
positioned all oftheir candidates from marginalised communities
at the head oftheir lists but this is no guarantee that they will
be selected to fill any seats won in the PR contest.
57 On PR systems and the modified Safnte-Lague method to be
used in Nepal's election, see Hans Riedwyl and Jiirg Sterner,
"What is Proportionality Anyhow?", Comparative Politics, vol.
27, no. 3 (April 1995), pp. 357-369; and Arend Lijphart,
Electoral Systems and Party Systems: A Study of Twenty-
Seven Democracies, 1945-1990 (Oxford, 1994). The Election
Commission's presentation on the system is at www.election
gov.np/EN/legal/PRcalculationEN.pps.
58 These quotas, provided for by the Interim Constitution, are
defined in the Election Act 2007, Schedule 1. TTie Procedures
for Nomination and Selection of Candidates in Proportional
Election, 2064 (2008) are available at www.nepalelectionportal.
org/EN/election-laws/nomination.php.
59 Interim Constitution, Art. 63(5).
60 "Dalit" is the term "untouchables", who are at the bottom of
the traditional caste hierarchy, prefer to describe themselves.
61 "Backward region" refers to eight western and far-western
districts: Accham, Kalikot, Jumla, Dolpa, Bajhang, Bajura,
Mugu and Humla.
62 Election Commission officials are unable to clarify the
"others" category, Crisis Group interview, Laxman Bhattarai,
commission spokesperson, Kathmandu March 2008. According
to the spirit of the Interim Constitution, "other groups" was
supposed to mean other marginalised groups (for example,
Muslims) not mentioned in individual quotas. However, the
parties used this category for any group not covered by previous
categories - including high caste and otherwise privileged
communities. This has both reduced the originally intended
scope of affirmative action and further complicated the postelection arithmetic. Further explanation can be found at
to the PR list (for both nominated and winning
candidates), and the Election Commission may accept
a 10 per cent variance in any category.63 The requirement
to nominate half women applies to each quota (eg,
there must be at least 6.5 per cent female Dalits). There
are no quotas for the FPTP contest, but parties are to
"take into account the principle of inclusiveness while
nominating candidates".64 At the polling booth voters
will first be given a light blue FPTP ballot paper.
Once they have marked their choice with a stamp,
they will be issued a light pink PR ballot paper to be
cast in a separate ballot box.65
The result is a system that is hard to understand and may
well not produce the proportional outcome activists want.
An expert said, "this is a very complex electoral system
- very few people, even supposed experts, understand
it. The parties are now starting to realise how complicated
it is. It's not easy for them".66 Many candidates reportedly
do not understand it. Only one fringe party filed a correct
initial PR list; all others were returned for revision,
although some parties had only made minor technical
errors.67 This type of PR list system has only been used
by Serbia and Guyana, and has been widely criticised
for its lack of transparency and voter accountability as it
allows party leaders to select winning candidates.
Critics also point out it is unlikely to deliver a
proportional outcome. Parties winning a handful of PR
seats will only be able to select a rough approximation
of representative candidates; those winning an odd
number of seats may well choose more men than
women. The better smaller parties do, the less likely
the overall balance will meet quotas.68 Furthermore,
parties that field short lists for less than 30 per cent of
PR seats (100 candidates or less) do not have to meet
www.nepalelectionportal.org/EN/elections-in-nepal/electoral-
systemphp.
63 The Election Commission will judge whether the PR
nominees for winning seats meet the criteria and will demand
revisions if they do not; the EC can allow +/- 10 per cent
variance on each quota, Election Act, 7(8).
64 Ibid, 5(3).
65 One constituency (Kathmandu-1) will use an electronic voting
system without ballot papers. See http://www.election.gov.np/
NP/evoting/EVM_FAQ.pdf.
66 Crisis Group interview, international election observers,
March 2008.
67 Crisis Group interviews, Election Commission officials,
Kathmandu, March 2008.
68 Parties that win only one seat can disregard the quotas
altogether and nominate whomever they choose from their list,
Election Act, 7(14).
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Page 10
any quota other than that for women's representation.69
Ofthe 54 parties standing in the PR contest, only eleven
will have to abide by the other quotas.
The FPTP contest may also have deficiencies. Ballots
will not have candidates' names, just party symbols.
Critics argue this undermines the nature of a contest in
which there is a direct relationship between voters and
individual candidates and representatives. Candidates
from major parties should have little trouble getting
voters to associate them with established party symbols,
but smaller parties and independent candidates may
struggle. An observer commented: "The system is crappy
but that doesn't necessarily mean the result will be".70
Others are not so optimistic. "This system is going to
produce something that doesn't even vaguely resemble
PR", an international expert said.71 Nevertheless, the
combined quotas have produced a far more diverse field
of candidates than ever before, and the CA will be
significantly more inclusive than past parliaments. The
guaranteed number of women members may fall below
the one third some had hoped for but even around 25-30
per cent will still put Nepal well ahead of other countries
in the region - and probably around 35th globally for
women's representation.
B.       THE ROLE OF THE ELECTION
COMMISSION
The Election Commission, a powerful independent
constitutional body, is solely responsible for the conduct
ofthe polls.72 Headed by Chief Election Commissioner
Bhoj Raj Pokharel, assisted by four commissioners,73 it
runs the entire process, from compiling the voters list
and preparing ballot papers to carrying out the elections,
ensuring their security and managing the count and
any initial complaints. It has issued regulations for the
CA election and party registration and electoral roll
rules, as well as an election code of conduct. The
This was negotiated by the UDMF so that Madhesi parties
do not have to field nationally representative candidates. See
eight-point agreement, fn. 10.
70 Crisis Group interview, international election observer, 8
March 2008.
71 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 9 March 2008.
72 Interim Constitution, Art. 129(1). TTie Electoral Commission's
role and responsibilities are defined by ibid, Part 14 (Arts. 128-
130) and the Election Commission Act, 2063 (2007). In addition
to national elections, the commission is also responsible for
referendums and local government elections. The Interim
Constitution Act is only available in Nepali, at www.elecfiongov
.np/NP/pdf/ecact.pdf; the commission summarises its salient
features in English at www.elecfion.gov.np/EN/legal/ ecactphp.
73 The other commissioners are Usha Nepal, Neel Kantha
Uprety, Dolakh Bahadur Gurung and Ayodhi Prasad Yadav.
commission has to coordinate closely with the home
ministry and security forces and has deployed district
election officers (DEOs) in all 75 districts. Total staff is
around 240,000, and there will be between five and
thirteen election officials and support staff at each of
the nearly 21,000 booths.74 The commission has powers
to second civil servants on election duties: on 14 March
it sent 49 government secretaries to monitor preparations
around the country.75
How the commission referees the run-up to the polls,
manages logistics and copes with the count and any
appeals will be critical. Pokharel has won widespread
respect for his professionalism and has asserted his
authority in public warnings to the parties and government
that he will not tolerate misbehaviour.76 He has also
repeatedly urged the home ministry to work harder on
security arrangements. However, he has so far refrained
from exercising his power to fine parties or bar candidates
(although one party was disqualified for failing to observe
the women's quota). The Election Commission is in an
invidious position: lax enforcement may be taken as
weakness, while strict enforcement could destabilise
the peace process (hence its reluctant agreement to
extend deadlines to accommodate fresh understandings
with protestors). So far, Pokharel's perceived closeness
to the NC (he was an NC-appointed home secretary)77
has not damaged his credibility; in fact, it may have
helped him to convey tough messages to the NC and
its ministers. But it could become an issue if he has to
take a stance in party battles over procedures or results.
C.      THE PREPARATIONS
1.       Technical preparations
The electoral roll. There are 17.6 million registered
voters (out of a population of approximately 27 million
and compared to 13.5 million in the 1999 general
election).78 When the Election Commission completed
compilation of the new voters list in May 2007, some
Crisis   Group  interview,  Laxman Bhattarai,  Election
Commission spokesperson, 14 March 2008.
75 "Govt secretaries monitoring polls process from today",
ekantipur.com, 14 March 2008.
76 For example, on 11 March 2008, the Pokharel summoned
the cabinet and warned that if there was misbehaviour, he would
disqualify candidates.
77 Pokharel has served as secretary in several ministries but his
longest tenure was in the home ministry (October 1992-March
1995), to which he was appointed by the first post-1990 NC
government. His first electoral experience was his association
with the National Referendum Commission (1979-1980).
78 For more information, see Election Commission statistics
at www.election.gov.np/EN/prevelection.html.
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Page 11
individuals complained they had been omitted. Their
complaints were resolved, and there have been none
from parties about the overall accuracy ofthe list.
However, many people have been left out. Only citizens
who reached the age of eighteen by 15 November 2006
were eligible to register, meaning the youngest voters
on 10 April will be nineteen years and four months old.
Permanent residents within an electoral constituency
were registered as permanent voters;79 others (including
PLA combatants in cantonments and government
employees - including soldiers, police and election
officials) were registered as temporary voters, meaning
they can vote only in the PR race.80 Internal migrants
will only be able to vote if they return to their home
constituencies (the Maoists had seized and burned some
voters lists in February 2007 protesting the refusal to
register migrants at their current addresses). Many
recent citizenship certificate recipients, predominantly
Madhesis, have also been left off the roll, although
Madhesi parties have not raised this issue vocally.
Ballot papers. Over 40 million ballots have been printed
and have to be securely delivered to almost 10,000 polling
centres. The printing was achieved on schedule, despite
the tight deadlines, although distribution to more remote
polling stations will be a challenge. Election officials
have started distributing less sensitive basic materials
separately; ballot papers will require transport and police
guards.81
Logistics. Collating the ballots, distributing them to the
correct locations in time and keeping them secure will
not be easy. Distribution and security in past elections
were army responsibilities. Sceptical observers doubt
that the Election Commission is up to the task. Preparations
for recovery of ballot boxes and their secure delivery
to count centres in the district headquarters may also
be affected by this lack of experience. However, the
commission insists the timetable is manageable, and
district election offices appear to be well organised.82
9 Electoral Roll Act, 5.
80 The Election Commission will allow temporary voters to
vote in the FPTP portion as well, if they can be present in their
home constituency on polling day. "Nanimaiyalai kasle dela
ta mat?", Jana Aastha, 19 March 2007.
81 Crisis Group interviews, election officials, Kabhre, Dolakha
and Sindhupalchowk districts, March 2008.
82 In the three district election offices visited by Crisis Group
since the distribution of poll materials began (Kabhre, Dolakha
and Sindhupalchowk), preparations were well in hand - although
as these districts are close to Kathmandu and fairly accessible
they are not necessarily representative. Election officials and
returning officers had experienced no significant difficulties,
political or technical, and were confident the polling could
Staffing. There are two critical positions at the local
level: the DEO, the commission appointee in charge
of overall preparations, and the returning officer, who
oversees polling and counting in each constituency. In
districts with multiple constituencies, there will be a
chief returning officer, who acts as returning officer in
one constituency but also coordinates the other returning
officers. Returning officers are drawn from the judiciary
(although in past local elections, chief district officers
have filled the role). Each polling centre will have a
polling officer and as many assistants as necessary,
drawn from the civil service or state corporations.83
International assistance. Many donors have offered
significant bilateral aid to prepare for the polls, and the UN
Mission (UNMIN) is mandated to help create a suitable
environment. The Electoral Commission is not allowed
to accept cash but says it has received the equivalent of
Rs.533 million ($8.4 million) as foreign aid in kind.84
UNMIN's mandate includes supporting the process with
technical assistance. Its advisers have been working with
the Election Commission in Kathmandu and five regional
centres since the start of its mandate; it has now deployed
advisers in all 75 districts. The UN has also set up an
independent Electoral Expert Monitoring Team (EEMT)?
which reports directly to the Secretary-General.85
2.       Security arrangements
Security arrangements are based on those for past
elections but with some modifications. The most critical
difference is that the army, which had previously been
deployed for security back-up, will be confined to barracks
under the terms ofthe CPA. The home ministry will deploy
over 100,000 security personnel: 40,000 regular police (NP),
22,000 armed police (APF) and some 48,000 temporary
be managed effectively. Crisis Group interviews, Kabhre,
Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk districts, 25-30 March 2008.
83 The functions, duties and powers ofthe returning and polling
officers are set out in the Election Act (10-14). The Election
Commission summarises their roles at www.elecfion.gov.np/
EN/legal/returning.php and www.election.gov.np/EN/legal/
pollfng.php.
84 Election Commission statement, www.election.gov.np.
85 UN Security Council Resolution 1740 (S/RES/1740, 23
January 2007) specifies that JJNjVQN should "provide technical
support for the planning, preparation and conduct of the election
of a Constituent Assembly in a free and fair atmosphere, in
consultation with the parties" and that the EEMT should "review
all technical aspects of the electoral process, and report on the
conduct of the election". On Resolution 1740, see Crisis Group
Report, Nepal's Constitutional Process, op. cit., pp. 34-35.
UNMIN's support is explained in a factsheet, at www.rrnmfn.
org.np/downloads/publicafions/Factsheet_3_ENGpdf.
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Page 12
police and 6,000 temporary armed police.86 Effective
policing is necessary not only to ensure a free and fair
environment for campaigning but also to protect the
physical integrity of ballots - from the moment they
leave the press and are distributed to districts until
completion of the final count. Given the likelihood of
some repolling, the security exercise will extend over
several weeks, perhaps even a few months. The
recruitment of temporary police has been problematic:
political parties have put forward their cadres, and many
appear to have been enlisted. Even if partisan recruits
can be weeded out, minimal training and preparation
for coping with possible violence may well make the
temporary forces counterproductive.
Overall responsibility for security arrangements lies with
the Central Security Committee, a permanent body headed
by the home minister and including the NP and APF
chiefs, home and defence secretaries (and, optionally, the
chief election commissioner). The Election Commission is
to work closely with the home ministry, which retains
operational control over security personnel, although
the commission can issue directives.87 At the district
level, security forces will answer to the chief district
officer, who chairs a district security committee bringing
together the local security chiefs.88 This committee can
also include the district election officer. Each polling
centre will normally be guarded by between five and
sixteen police. They will be greatly outnumbered by
party representatives and supporters, but election officials
hope that civil society, media and other observers will
also act as a deterrent against election-related crime. Five
helicopters will be on standby (one per region) for
emergency evacuation or security force deployment.89
Extra security has been provided for sensitive districts
which are more likely to see disruption by armed groups.
Each of the twelve constituencies in Siraha and Saptari
districts will have three APF and two NP bases, with
patrols across the area. Other Tarai districts will have
two police bases; hill districts will have only one APF
base each. Some candidates have been given personal
The temporary police have been recruited and their two-
week training started in mid-March 2008. They will be retained
for a month. Crisis Group interview, home ministry assistant
spokesperson Ekmani Nepal, Kathmandu, 19 March 2008.
87 Ibid. The Election Commission has broad powers to issue
directives to all government personnel, Election Act (39, 45).
88 This includes the senior commanders ofthe NP, AFP, army
and NA and the National Department of Investigation, the
domestic intelligence agency.
89 Four private chartered helicopter and one army helicopter. A
second army helicopter will be on standby for the Kathmandu
valley.
security on the basis of individual threat analyses.90 Other
security measures will include sealing the border (for two
to three days), banning the sale of alcohol, closing schools
(for two weeks), and increasing army protection of borders
and critical infrastructure (as permitted by the CPA).
There are concerns over police neutrality. The NP has
been historically biased towards the NC, which also holds
the home ministry and so has operational control of all
security forces. There is also concern overthe ability of
the APF, raised and trained as a counter-insurgency force,
to adapt to the sensitivities of an election. Politicians
from various parties have called for the army to be
deployed, despite the CPA prohibition. The army itself
has kept track of the security situation and has made
plans in case it is called in to cope with severe instability.91
It has deployed troops to 50 locations, such as airports
and customs posts, to provide additional security - a
move permitted by the CPA, although it did not give the
requisite notification, reportedly due to lack of time.92
3.       Voter awareness
Many observers have long expressed fears that voters are
insufficiently aware ofthe CA election, or of its purpose
and modalities. The most recent extensive survey
concluded that "only a small proportion of people have
heard about the issues raised by the political parties such
as a federal state, proportional electoral system, etc.
Likewise, only a small proportion understand what a
constituent assembly is".93 The lack of understanding
this implies may be overstated: the definition of "correct"
understanding is narrow, and the campaign and media
attention will boost awareness.94 This has been a priority
for government and non-government agencies.
The Election Commission has taken the lead in
organising basic voter education programs across the
country. Its efforts have been supplemented by numerous
Candidates are entitled to state security if they specifically
request it or if police threat analysis suggests they require it. The
local adminisfrafion is the primary point of contact for candidates.
91 Crisis Group interviews, senior army officers, January-
February 2008.
92 See "Election Report No. 1", UNMN, JKathmandu, 22 March
2008, at www.unmin.org.np/downloads/publications/2008-03-
22-UNMINElecfion.Report. 1 .ENG .pdf.
93 Sudhindra Sharma and Pawan Kumar Sen, "Nepal
Contemporary Political Situation V: Nationwide Opinion
Survey", Interdisciplinary Analysts, Kathmandu, March 2008,
p. 67. Fieldwork carried out in December 2007 and early January
2008 found that 67 per cent of respondents had heard of the
CA but only 21 per cent correctly understood it.
94 On an earlier survey in this series and the nanow definition
of "correct" understanding, see Crisis Group Report, Towards a
Lasting Peace, op. cit, p. 37, fn. 360.
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Page 13
NGO projects, mostly funded by donors. The
commission's work has included training thousands
of local volunteer educators, publishing information
booklets and posters and producing radio and television
information slots.95 The scale has been impressive but
the impact is hard to quantify. There has been criticism
that volunteer educators were reluctant to reach beyond
district headquarters; volunteers themselves reportedly
found the electoral system hard to understand and
even harder to explain.96
NGOs have engaged in the effort in a number of ways,
from running local workshops to publishing materials.
Some have focused on particular issues, such as training
for women journalists. However, there are concerns that
generous donor funding directed to large Kathmandu-
based NGOs may not have met its targets, and there is
little or no way of evaluating utility, impact and
impartiality.97 Nepal's media has matured and expanded
rapidly since the 1999 elections. The greatly increased
reach of FM radio and private television (as well as a
flourishing print sector) has enabled the media to play
a greater role in building awareness, and donor-funded
NGO projects have boosted its capacity to disseminate
CA information. Still, voters look primarily to the
parties to educate them about the elections,98 and with
campaigning underway, gaps in understanding may
narrow rapidly.
D.      POSSIBLE ELECTORAL MALPRACTICE
The Electoral Commission's Code of Conduct is strict
and Chief Commissioner Pokharel has said he will
The Election Commission appointed some 8,500 volunteers,
mostly school teachers, as voter educators. They were meant
to travel to villages for 45 days disseminating information about
the CA, encouraging participation and explaining how to vote.
96 Crisis Group interviews, international and national election
experts, Kathmandu, March 2008.
97 Some Rs.180 million ($2.8 million) was channelled to NGOs
registered with the Social Welfare Council, and they may have
received more directly from INGOs. Only one recipient NGO
was based outside Kathmandu. Bhadra Sharma, "Rs. 180M
received from donors for voters' education", The Rising Nepal,
8 March 2008.
98 A nationwide survey (with 1,606 respondents) found that 28
per cent of respondents looked to the parties when asked: "Who
should conduct political awareness campaigns (such as providing
information on constituent assembly election) in your locality?";
19 per cent looked to the media; only 9 per cent to NGO workers
or civil society. Sudhindra Sharma and Pawan Kumar Sen,
"Drivers of Legitimacy: A Nationwide Survey Report",
submitted to The Asia Foundation and the UK Department for
International Development (DFID), Interdisciplinary Analysts,
Kathmandu, August 2007, chart 3.24.
enforce it rigorously. Some ofthe commission's steps
seem excessive, such as banning motorcycle rallies to
prevent "pomposity and ostentation".99 Its inability to
force parties to clean up their election graffiti suggests
that aiming for perfection may be overly ambitious,
especially if it means overturning long-established habits.
Some forms of more serious electoral malpractice are
also long-established habits - perfected and practised
by the mainstream parties, which will likely use them
against each other and the less experienced Maoists.
Intimidation. The Maoists are justifiably seen as the
primary problem, but other parties have often resorted
to threats in past elections. All the major ones will use
their youth and other wings for campaigning and a visible
presence at polling booths which can keep an eye on
other parties but may also intimidate voters or officials.
The Maoists have announced they will deploy large
numbers of Young Communist League (YCL) cadres at
each polling station. The NC's Tarun Dal (youth wing)
and UML's Democratic National Youth Organisation
will also be out in force.100
Voter impersonation, fraud. Although election identity
cards were used in 1999, they are not needed for the
CA polls. Voters can identify themselves with various
documents, including citizenship card, passport, driving
license or a government identification card with name
and photo ofthe holder. This increases the risk of fraud.
Parties will be tempted to make up for the absence
overseas of many younger males by having others vote
in their names. It will be hard for anyone to vote twice
without official connivance, as fingers will be marked
with indelible ink; however eighteen-year-olds excluded
from the voters roll may well try to cast a ballot in
another's name.
Booth-capturing. This refers to various forms of
unauthorised seizure of a polling station to enable a
party to stuff ballot boxes. Apart from direct, violent
takeover - which has been tried in the past but would
certainly lead to annulment and repolling - parties can
seek to infiltrate their own permitted agents, "dummy"
candidates' agents and others inside the polling station
to pressure officials to allow extra votes. Other tactics
are even harder for observers to monitor: for example,
a party might get its voters out early, then hold up the
99 Press communique No. 2, Election Commission, 14 March
2008, at www.election.gov.np/EN/detail_news.php?id=92.
100 Tarun Dal President Mahendra Yadav said the party plans
to mobilise 101 youths at each polling station "to secure each
booth"; Democratic National Youth Organisation President
Ajambar Kangdang said his cadres would "not remain mute
spectators if anyone attempts to seize a polling booth". Both
parties' student wings made similar statements. "Anyone can go
to people: youth leaders", The Kathmandu Post, 13 March 2008.
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Page 14
lines to cause delay and frustration among other voters.
Given the short time available to process each voter
through the two complex ballot-marking exercises,
deliberate delay may be an effective, near-invisible tactic.
Dummy candidates. Fielding dummy candidates (as
independents) in individual constituencies can assist
parties in various ways: the resources they are allowed
to use for campaigning (cash and vehicles) can be
diverted to the real candidate; they may divert some
votes from rival parties; and, most importantly, their
agents can be present at polling and at the count,
pressuring voters and officials. Many suspected dummy
candidates registered for certain seats, most egregiously
Kathmandu-10, where the Maoist leader, Prachanda, is
standing. A suspected seventeen Maoist dummies filed,
but fifteen later withdrew.101 Other parties have been
accused ofthe same practice.102
Misuse of state resources. This will likely be a recurrent
problem and cause for complaint from parties outside
government.103 All 30 ministers are standing - twenty
in FPTP seats, ten on PR lists.104 They will be tempted to
divert resources to their parties and their own campaigns.
The Election Commission has given warnings, but
ministers do not seem to be listening. There have been
repeated criticisms that the Maoists are abusing control
ofthe information and communications ministry to use
state media for propaganda.105 The NC, as leader ofthe
government coalition and holder of key ministries, is
in the strongest position to manipulate state resources.
Lack of state neutrality. With the NC in charge ofthe
home ministry, there is a widespread perception,
"25 candidates withdraw names, 15 from constituency no.
10", ekantipur.com, 9 March 2008.
102 For example, the NC and RJP appear to have fielded dummy
candidates in Nuwakot district "Yasta chhan 'dami' ummedavaf',
Naya Patrika, 11 March 2008.
103 The NC used government vehicles to go to the Election
Commission to file candidate nominations. Observers report
frequent and continuing misuse of government vehicles and
other resources in many districts, Crisis Group interviews,
international observers, Kathmandu, March 2008.
104 "Tisaijana mantri chunavma", Naya Patrika, 21 March 2008.
105 Despite strong evidence, Minister Mahara says, "people say
that but we haven't even put our people into Radio Nepal - in
fact, comrades keep complaining that they haven't seen any
benefits in my being in this ministry; there are still royalists
and others in all the state outlets", Crisis Group interview, 9
March 2008. The Election Commission has kept up pressure:
"Drawing the attention ofthe Government media, the Election
Commission has again issued directives to the Chiefs of the
Government media to comply with the CA Election Code of
Conduct. The EC, time and again, has drawn the attention ofthe
government media", press release, 21 March 2008, at
www.election.gov.np/EN/detail_news.php?id=99.
including within the party's own ranks, that it has
disproportionate influence over local administration and
policing.106 Apart from most senior bureaucrats, election
returning officers are serving judges - drawn from a
judiciary in which the public has little faith and whose
senior members (mostly male and predominantly Bahun,
a high caste) may have leanings to the major parties that
have been in government when they were promoted.107
E.      ELECTION OBSERVATION
Monitoring will be essential for endorsing the validity of
the elections and as a deterrent to malpractice. Some 148
Nepali and 29 international organisations have registered
as election observers. Apart from registered monitors,
party agents and officials, independent civil society
members and journalists will be at many polling stations.
National observers. An estimated 90,000 national
observers from 148 organisations will monitor the polls.
The Election Commission has accredited over 10,000
observers at the central level; district offices will accredit
the vast majority.108 National observers have to be adult
Nepali citizens with at least tenth-grade education, nonpartisan and have received observation training from
their organisation.109 There are five major observer
networks: the Nepal Election Monitoring Alliance
(NEMA), Nepal Election Observation Committee Nepal
(NEOC-N), General Election Observation Committee
(GEOC), Democracy and Election Alliance Nepal (DEAN)
and Constituent Assembly Election Observation United
Forum (CAEOUF).
NEMA, funded by the Asia Foundation and led by
Subodh Pyakurel, is probably the largest network,
bringing together fourteen organisations and a significant
membership.110 It has trained 17,000 volunteers and aims
One report alleged Home Minister Sitaula has recruited
over 600 Congress workers into the National Investigation
Department, the domestic intelligence agency, since his April
2006 appointment. He would be following the established
practice of incumbents. "Anusandhan vibhag rajnitik
bhartikendra", Naya Patrika, 11 March 2008.
107 The most comprehensive survey on social inclusion in
Nepal notes that Bahuns, Chhetris and Newars hold "virtually
all positions" in the judiciary, while women are even more
poorly represented than in the civil service (where they are
less than 1 per cent of first class officers and above). "Unequal
Citizens: Gender, Caste and Ethnic Exclusion in Nepal -
Summary", DFID/World Bank, 2006, pp. 31-32.
108 Crisis Group interview, Dhruba Dhakal, EC, 20 March 2008.
109 Ibid.
110 These include the Federation of Community Forest Users
Nepal, Teachers Union of Nepal (a confederation ofthe UML-
and NC-affiliated teachers organisations), Nepal Jaycees,
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Page 15
for 19,000, to cover all polling centres and issue an initial
report by mid-moming on election day. DEAN, funded by
the U.S. Agency for Intemational Development (USAID)
and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), will have
13,000 observers from different organisations (to be
trained by 556 veteran observers qualified as master
trainers).111 CAEOUF, led by former Supreme Court
Justice and IC drafter Laxman Aryal, plans to deploy
5,000 observers. The Nepal Bar Association and NGO
Federation will mobilise 1,000 and 2,000 observers
respectively.
The sheer numbers are impressive - almost 30 times
more than in 1999 - although even the observers admit
this may bring its own problems.112 Efforts to form a
coordination committee have Med.113 Election observation
has in the past been plagued by partisanship and there
are no signs the CA polls will be different. Some major
organisations and prominent individuals leading them are
openly supportive of particular political parties.114 The
Election Commission has indicated it will rescind the
accreditation of observers who are found to be partisan;
total numbers may end up significantly lower than the
initial estimate.
International observers. 29 international organisations
have been granted accreditation, some of them
Kathmandu-based embassies. They will field 810
observers in total. The largest missions are those ofthe
European Union (EU), the Asian Network For Free
Elections (ANFREL) and the Carter Center. Some
smaller missions are being organised by international
organisations with an established Nepal presence, such as
NDI and the Asia Foundation.115 Major international
observers will compare notes, aiming not to directly
contradict or undermine each other's reports, but retain
their independence.116 The large EU mission need not
reflect member state views; its leader stresses it will reach
its own judgment independent of EU missions in
Kathmandu or Brussels.117 Nevertheless, there is likely to
be much common ground in the missions' reports; ifthe
polls are broadly free and fair, a united message would
make it harder for parties to reject the results. Perfect
compliance with international standards is probably
impossible: as long as there is no outrageous violence
benefiting the Maoists, India is likely to issue a prompt
endorsement to forestall appeals and lock in the results.
Private and Boarding Schools Organisation Nepal and National
Federation of Irrigation Water Users Association Nepal.
111 Nepal International Election Forum (NIEFO), Nepal Law
Society (NLS) and Federation of Forestry Users Nepal
(FECOFUN). NIEFO members have been involved in election
missions abroad (usually UN-sponsored). NLS was involved
with all three previous general elections. FECOFUN, a national
federation of forest users with thousands of members nationally,
is a NEMA member. DEAN's publications, including monthly
bulletins and background materials for national observers,
are available at www.deannepal.org/publication.htinl.
112 Crisis Group interview, NEMA chief Subodh Pyakurel,
Kathmandu, 20 March 2008.
113 Crisis Group interview, DEAN chief Subhadayak Shah,
Kathmandu, 20 March 2008.
114 For example, GEOC's H.S.J.B. Rana is seen as linked to the
NC and NEOC's Surya Prasad Shrestha and NEOC-Nepal's
Sudip Pathak to the UML.
115 Crisis Group has also registered as an election observer.
Crisis Group interviews, EU, ANFREL and Carter Center
observers, Kathmandu, March 2008.
117 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 18 March 2008.
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IV.    THE AFTERMATH
A.     REPOLLING
Repolling will probably be necessary in some places,
but it is hard to predict how many, and even election
officials are unsure how it will be carried out. The
returning officer of each constituency, or the polling
officer at an individual station, has the authority to call
off voting in a variety of circumstances. These include
"any commotion as well as other extraordinary situation at
the polling station or owing to non-operation of electronic
devices or any riot or natural calamity or any act beyond
control".118 Any party that feels it is doing badly can
easily cause enough disturbance to force a halt to
voting. It is up to the returning officer to specify and
publish a date for repolling. Polls can also be cancelled if
ballot papers are lost, damaged or interfered with before
the count, or ifthe counting station is seized.119 Repolling
in any polling station means the count for the whole
constituency must be suspended until it is complete.120
Electoral law does not specify deadlines for repolling, and
Election Commission officers admit they have no fixed
plans.121 Some say it can be done almost immediately, but
this is unrealistic. The ease or difficulty will depend on a
number of factors. For example, if there was widespread
violence it may take time to reestablish security and
guarantee a free and fair environment. If most ballot
papers were used before the poll was suspended, it may
be necessary to print replacements, as polling stations
will have only a small reserve on hand. Even supportive
observers fear significant repolling may well be required.
A senior Indian diplomat warned: "There may well be
a few dozen places where repolling is necessary - it
could be in effect an election in two phases".122
Election observers have urged that repolling regulations
should be drawn up in advance to ensure that procedures
are not politically influenced.123 As the decision to cancel
Election to the Members of the Constituent Assembly Act,
2064 (2007), 40(1).
119 Ibid, 52 (1,2) and 53 (4,5).
120 Ibid, 49(3).
121 Crisis Group interviews, Election Commission officials,
Kathmandu, March 2008.
122 Crisis Group interview, senior Indian diplomat, Kathmandu,
14 March 2008. One quirk ofthe electoral legislation is that the
government may choose different dates for polling in different
constituencies, "taking into consideration the geographical
situation, weather and other circumstances as well" but such
staggered voting will still be deemed to have been held
simultaneously. Election Act, 16(2).
123 International observers and diplomats have made similar
suggestions, Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu March 2008.
polling at individual stations on the day rests with polling
or returning officers, there may be charges that they have
not been impartial or acted under duress.
B.    The Count
Before counting starts, the ballot boxes from each booth
are to be delivered under security escort to the relevant
district headquarters. The returning officer must publish
a notice specifying the place, date and time for the count
so candidates and their agents can attend.124 FPTP and PR
ballots are both to be counted in the district headquarters.
If it cannot be done simultaneously, as preferred, the
FPTP ballots take priority, and the PR count will start
once that count is completed.125 Election officials are
all likely to concentrate on completing the FPTP count
first: managing two parallel counts will be practically
unmanageable and there will be greater demand from
voters and candidates to learn the FPTP outcome as
soon as possible.126FPTP results will be published by
each constituency returning officer as soon as they are
ready. The PR tallies are meant to be passed to the
Election Commission in Kathmandu, to be totalled
centrally, but election officials have also decided to
release the PR tally for each constituency when
complete.127
The Election Commission long maintained an overly
optimistic estimate that the count would take seven to
ten days, and a maximum of two weeks (assuming no
repolling). Many international experts had suggested some
three weeks (longer if repolling is required) will be
needed.128 The Election Commission subsequently revised
its projection to the end of April.129 Given the serious
logistical constraints, this is a more realistic timeframe,
although it will still almost certainly be extended by
repolling.
Individual FPTP results may start being announced
shortly after election day.130 However, as the whole
country is considered a single unit for the PR contest,
those results can only be finalised when voting in every
Election to the Members ofthe Constituent Assembly Act,
2064 (2007), 48.
125
Ibid, 49(1).
126 Crisis Group interviews, central and district election
officials, various districts, March 2008.
127
128
Ibid, 57, 58.
Crisis Group interviews, international election experts from
several organisations, Kathmandu, February-March 2008.
129 See "Results three weeks after polls, says EC", Himalayan
Times, 22 March 2008.
130 In a case where an FPTP candidate stands and wins in two
constituencies (a practice permitted in Nepal), he or she will
choose which seat to resign and a by-election will fill the vacancy.
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Page 17
constituency is completed, and the final national tally
has been confirmed. The parties will name the winners
from their lists only after it has been announced how
many seats they have. If their selections do not satisfy
the inclusiveness quotas, they will be given three days
to revise them.131 Although the rules allow for a 10 per
cent variance, the provisions are so complex that parties
may well fail - whether accidentally or deliberately -
to meet the requirements.
On past experience, some experts suggest 10 per cent of
ballot boxes could be lost, damaged or interfered with
before reaching counting stations. A similar percentage
of ballot papers could be accidentally spoiled, although
this is harder to predict. Voter awareness programs and
the guidance of both officials and party agents at polling
stations may reduce this. Still, the parallel system with
double papers could confuse many voters, as could the
55 party symbols. The lost or damaged ballots will
probably not undermine the overall integrity of the
vote, but since the margins separating parties could be
narrow, 10 per cent disqualified ballots could prompt
heated complaints and calls for repolling.
The most important question is at what stage the Electoral
Commission will feel able to declare final results. This
is the trigger for convening the CA, but it is not clearly
defined. Some may argue that as long as by-elections
or repolling are pending, the results cannot be final.
Others, happy with the broad picture, may push for a
faster declaration. Failure to complete polling and
counting in even a single station theoretically makes
the PR announcement impossible, but it is unlikely
the country will wait on a handful of trouble-spots.
The decision on final results, like most other aspects
of the election, is likely to be political. If it is made
with the consensus of the major parties, there will be
little quibbling; if not, there will be another dispute.
C.    The Results
The complexity ofthe parallel system, the vagaries of
voter behaviour, the weak tradition of opinion polling and
the fluidity of the post-conflict political landscape all
contribute to a situation that defies confident prediction.
There has been little research on voter behaviour, and
it is in any event uncertain whether old loyalties will
outweigh more immediate concerns. The arrival of the
Maoists as an untested electoral force may lead to shifts
in support among leftist voters and beyond. Similarly,
the new Madhesi parties' prospects are hard to evaluate.
The behaviour of first-time voters - some 22 per cent
ofthe electorate - may reflect concerns specific to young
people who have grown up in the democratic period
and come of age during the conflict.
Although it is unlikely any single party will win a
majority, this does not mean the CA will be the same
as a hung parliament. Assuming the broad division
between the (more or less) republican left and the (more
or less) conservative/royalist right continues, one of those
blocs, however frail its cohesion, will have a majority.
(This broad characterisation may be slightly complicated
by the arrival of new parties.) The major established
parties are banking on their voters turning out and hoping
that loyalty and habit will trump the temptation to switch
allegiance, particularly in the Tarai. The NC is hoping
that the leftist vote will be split between the UML and
the Maoists, potentially giving it an advantage in tight
FPTP constituencies (just as the UML split before the
1999 election brought it a landslide victory). However, the
UML appears confident the Maoists will not eat into
its votes - one reason why it has resisted an alliance.
Royalist parties have been marginalised during the seven-
party-dominated transitional period but cannot be written
off, especially if they can forge an alliance. Many
prominent royalists have been confident enough to stand
for election from their traditional FPTP constituencies,
among them RPP, RJP and RPP (N) leaders.132 Together
they could win PR votes not only from royalists but also
from others dissatisfied with the current government;
they will be able to draw on resources from well-off
monarchists. The fact that the Maoists have risked
condemnation by frequently obstructing royalist
campaigning (even by parties that have supported the
peace process) suggests they view them as a serious
threat, as do their repeated calls for "nationalists" to
leave the palace and join their cause.
No configuration of results is without conflict risk. Any
ofthe possible outcomes could aggravate tensions, and
each would generate powerful losers. If two parties
combined command more than two thirds of the CA
seats, they could form an alliance powerful enough to
drive through constitutional provisions. If, as is more
likely, only three or more parties combined reach the two-
thirds mark, there will be a greater need for consensus
and therefore a greater opening for smaller parties to
stall progress.
Election Act, 7(10).
Eg, Pashupati Rana (Sindhupalchowk); Surya Bahadur Thapa
(Dhankuta); Kamal Thapa (Makwanpur and Kathmandu-5).
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Page 18
D.      REACTIONS: ACCEPTANCE, APPEAL OR
REJECTION
Several broad scenarios could emerge as results are
announced. Ideally, a more or less free and fair process
will leave some individuals complaining but the main
parties accepting the outcome. More likely, there will be
significant complaints from larger parties which cause
some disruption and perhaps lead to repolling, but do not
halt the entire exercise. In the worst case, one or more
major parties could reject the election altogether and press
for a re-run or simply take grievances to the streets.
The critical test will be whether the election is credible
enough for the results to withstand the complaints of
powerful losers. There are several which could cause
trouble if seriously dissatisfied with the conduct ofthe
election or its results; any one ofthe main parties could
obstruct progress. Meeting electoral standards is notjust a
matter of abstract principle: a credible process offers a
much more solid basis for coping with post-poll complaints.
The slow emergence of results and the order in which
they are published (with individual FPTP results
announced as soon as they are counted and the PR total
probably weeks later) could have political significance.
For example, the Maoists are widely expected to do
badly in the FPTP contest. The announcement of
initial poor results could lead to frustration among their
cadres (possibly increasing pressure to reject the
results) or embolden their opponents to goad them with
premature political obituaries. The gradual publication
of local PR tallies as the count continues and the
circulation of rumours may well exacerbate a tense
atmosphere.
High popular aspirations raised by the polls - the prime
minister has even promised they "will solve all the nation's
problems"133 - will not be met. Those whose hopes
focus on greater inclusiveness may well be disappointed
by initial FPTP results, which will be far less representative
of gender, regional and ethnic diversity, and suspicious
at delays in the PR results. International experts have
urged that the Election Commission make greater efforts
to inform voters about the time it may take to know
results.134 While there will be many new faces in the
CA, the probable victory of most senior politicians may
give the impression of a return to business as usual.
Prime Minister Koirala told the Nepal Donors Consultative
Meeting: "The election will take place on April 10 and it will
solve all problems facing the country", "PM assures donors
about timely polls", nepalnews.com, 21 Feb 2008.
134 The U.S. embassy has expressed willingness to fund such
efforts, Crisis Group interviews, electoral experts and U.S.
diplomats, Kathmandu, March 2008.
Challenges and appeals are inevitable. Parties that see
themselves as victims of intimidation or other unfair
practices will register complaints. Individual parties and
groupings could be unhappy for particular reasons:
□ CPN(M). The Maoists have frequently stated that
as the people are on their side any result other than
victory could only result from rigging. However,
on other occasions their leaders have explicitly
said they will recognise even unfavourable results.135
The movement has remained on the fringes of
the state and so will feel - however much their
participation in government may point to the
contrary - that they can justifiably denounce the
elections as managed entirely by the "old regime",
from the election officials and security forces to
the NC politicians who control critical ministries.
The Maoists would find it hardest to accept an
NC-royalist majority in the CA.
□ NC and UML. The two major parties of the
democratic era make the most credible-sounding
commitments to abide by the results. Nevertheless,
surprisingly poor showings could prompt either to
complain about an unfair environment or technical
irregularities. Such complaints would be unlikely to
go as far as all-out rejection and might be used as
leverage in the baigaining over ministerial positions.
□ Madhesi parties. Madhesis will certainly be
better represented in the CA than in any previous
parliament, but it is possible many more will be
elected on NC and UML tickets than from
specifically Madhesi parties, whose disunity may
cost them dear. This could prompt turmoil in the
moderate Madhesi parties and strengthen the hand
of more radical organisations, including armed
groups. Even if divisions between Madhesi parties
appear to be the main cause of a weak showing,
the temptation to return to street protests to avoid
being outflanked by radicals might be hard to
resist. The only consolation that might suit
individual leaders would be cabinet berths.
□ Royalists. The RPP and other royalist parties
have been assiduously documenting Maoist
obstruction and reporting incidents to the Election
Commission, the press and the international
community. None expects outstanding results, but
none is likely to let any perceived unfairness pass
without comment.
□ International reaction. The most influential (and
probably most prompt) reaction to the polls and
See, for example, "We will accept any outcomes ofthe CA
polls: Prachanda", ekantipur.com, 23 March 2008.
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Page 19
their results will be India's. Although plenty of
government agencies and opinion-formers in Delhi
are still wary even of moderate parliamentary leftists
such as the UML, India is likely to accept any
result except one which would trigger a Maoist-led
government.136 The U.S. would also balk at such
a government, although both countries' diplomats
insist their concern is with the credibility of the
process, not the results.137 Other countries worried
by a strong Maoist showing would be shielded by
India's leading role in making objections (which
could easily be based on the many violations likely
before and on polling day). Conversely, if India
accepts the outcome, others are highly unlikely to
reject it.
The Election Commission is the primary authority to
handle complaints: it can annul the polls in any station
or constituency.138 There is also a CA Court, which has
the power to "hear and settle petitions relating to the
election of members ofthe Constituent Assembly".139 The
court has a three-member bench, drawn from Supreme
Court judges. Though in most respects it would follow
summary trial procedures,140 any case might take a long
time to process. Even once all evidence has been heard
and the defence has submitted its statement (or the
deadline to do so expires), it could take up to three months
for the court to issue its verdict, which is final.141 The
thoroughness of technical preparations and management
will be critical for rebutting allegations of major fraud or
other irregularities. Whether the Election Commission can
resolve complaints or has to refer some to the court,
political pressures will probably outweigh legal niceties.
A CHALLENGING TRANSITION
New Delhi's concerns about a governing Maoist-UML
alliance stem from fears the Maoists might become the dominant
partner. India insists it would accept an outright Maoist victory
achieved by free and fair means, Crisis Group interview,
senior Indian diplomat, March 2008. But so relaxed a reaction
in the event of that outcome would be unlikely.
137 Crisis Group interview, U.S. diplomats, Kathmandu, March
2008.
138 The Electoral Commission will investigate any complaint
about a threat, intimidation or other inapporpriate influence
on the polls. Election Commission Act, 17(1). It can annul the
election in any consituency (or at any or all of its polling
centres), if it decides that any election activities have not
been free and fair, ibid 17(2). Manual on Settlement of Petitions
and Proceedings Relating to Election, 2064 (2007), at
www.nepalelectionportal.org/EN/election-laws/settlement.php.
139 Constituent Assembly Court Act, 2063 (2006), preamble and
3(1). The constitutional provision establishing the court offers
a marginally broader definition of its scope: "to examine
election-related complaints", Interim Constitution, Art. 118.
140 Constituent Assembly Court Act, 2063 (2006), 10(1).
141 Ibid, 14(1).
A.       A ROADMAP FOR THE INTERREGNUM?
The transitional period will last at least several weeks.
Even if voting goes smoothly, it will take at least three
weeks for the final results to be published and up to
another three weeks before the CA convenes. As noted,
repolling will probably seriously extend that schedule.
The Interim Constitution is vague on several transitional
issues and avoids some altogether. Much depends on
the major political players. While all the main ones talk
of maintaining seven-party unity and consensus-based
governance, there is no detailed agreement on how this
would work. Even if there were a general commitment
to seek a broad unity government, questions of its
leadership and distribution of ministries would almost
certainly be reopened in the light of election results. The
seven parties will probably find it hard to admit others
into their club (however fraught their relations, there is
a certain comfort in the arrangement) but a stable unity
government would need wider representation - of
Madhesi parties, more representative individuals and
perhaps moderate royalists. That will require a major
psychological shift.
The interim legislature will remain in place until it is
automatically dissolved by convening ofthe CA.142 The
Interim Constitution does not specify transitional
arrangements for the executive but as long as the
legislature is in place, the provisions for the continuity of
the prime minister and council of ministers remain in
force. This means there could only be a change in prime
minister ifthe incumbent resigns, loses a no-confidence
vote, ceases to be a member ofthe legislature or dies.143
The Interim Constitution envisions formation of a new
government after the CA convenes but only specifies
that it should be broadly in line with its own provisions.144
The critical ones that will likely still apply are that the
prime minister should be selected by consensus or, failing
that, elected by a two-thirds majority, and the council
of ministers should be appointed by consensus.145
"Consensus" is defined as that of the seven parties,
Interim Constitution, Art. 45(4): "The term ofthe Legislature-
Parliament shall come to an end following the first meeting
ofthe Constituent Assembly".
143 Ibid, Art. 38(7). A vote of no confidence is detailed in
Art. 55A.
144 "After the formation ofthe Constituent Assembly, the
exercise ofthe executive power, constitution of the Council
of Ministers and other matters related thereto shall, mutatis
mutandis, be in accordance with the provisions in this Part",
ibid, Art. 44.
145 Ibid, Art. 38(1-3).
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 20
which appear set to retain this privileged
constitutional position regardless of the election
outcome.146
Prime Minister Koirala has said he will retire from
politics after the election, but it is not clear if this is firm
and, if so, when he will step down. His name remains
on the NC's PR list. If he resigns before the CA's first
sitting, his successor would be chosen by consensus or
a two-thirds vote in the legislature. The Maoists, while
supporting a coalition administration, said in their
manifesto they would seek CA backing for an executive
presidency and a new transitional government appointed
by consensus.147 The UML said the government "will be
formed under the leadership ofthe largest party on the
basis of proportional representation", implying that any
party with sufficient seats could expect cabinet posts.148
Other parties may see the start ofthe CA as an opportune
moment to push for more structural changes.
Managing the transition will be difficult. Even with basic
cross-party consensus, the government has been weak
in the pre-election period and may well be dysfunctional
in its aftermath - especially if results suggest the power-
sharing arrangements require major changes. Tough
decisions will be required during the interregnum, from
managing election disputes to convening the CA and
forming a new government. Perhaps more critically,
the current government will have to manage security
arrangements - and any post-poll instability could bring
new calls for army deployment or other sensitive steps.
B.       THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY'S FIRST
SITTING
The first sitting of the CA is to be summoned by the
prime minister within 21 days after the Election
Commission announces final results.149 Although the
general understanding of "first meeting" is a single session
on the first day, debate and procedural delays could
extend it for several days.150 Its administrative tasks
"For the purpose of this Constitution 'political consensus'
means the political consensus reached between the seven
political parties", Interim Constitution, Art. 37(1), explanatory
note. Formation of any new government shall be in accordance
with this and other provisions, ibid, Art. 44.
147 CPN(M) commitment paper, p. 19.
148 UML manifesto, p. 38.
149 Interim Constitution, Art. 69(1).
150 The authoritative Nepali original uses the term baithak, in
common usage "meeting" and in contrast with the standard
term for "session" (adhiveshan). However, the terms are used
more or less interchangeably at many points in the Interim
Constitution, and occasionally baithak alone stands for
"session" (eg, ibid, Art. 88(2)). One constitutional law expert
include electing a chair and vice-chair, forming a new
government and deciding basic rules of procedure
(including how to divide its constitution-drafting and
legislative functions). The Interim Constitution does not
specify the order in which these decisions must be taken or
a time-limit. Once formed, the cabinet is to nominate the 26
remaining CA delegates by consensus, a process that could
prove controversial ifthe assembly is closely divided.
The Interim Constitution says, "implementation ofthe
republic shall be made by the first meeting of the
constituent assembly" but does not define "implementation"
or specify a mechanism.151 The sitting of the CA is
unlikely in itself to be considered an automatic trigger
for implementation, which would presumably still be
subject to a vote that the seven currently governing parties
would feel bound in spirit, if not in letter, to support.
The Interim Constitution had initially specified that the
monarchy's fate would be decided by simple majority
vote at the first sitting, but this was altered to the language
cited above, which leaves the need for, or nature of, any
voting unspecified.152 The Maoists are the only party
to offer a detailed description of what it understands
by implementation of the federal democratic republic,
although its elements range from the immediately practical
(replacing the king with an interim president) to broader
policy initiatives, such as immediate implementation of
the CPN(M) transitional economic policy.153 The NC
offers no clues in its manifesto and its leaders' comments
have been ambiguous.154
Ifthe NC and royalist parties do well, it would strengthen
those pushing to reopen the question ofthe monarchy's
suggests that the "first meeting" may exclude an initial sitting
to resolve procedural issues, Crisis Group interview, March 2008.
There will be scope for debate over the word's interpretation
in the context of Art. 159(2).
151 Ibid, Art. 159(2). This article was revised in the third
amendment (28 December 2007) to reflect the 23-point
agreement.
152 Ibid Art. 159(3) originally read: "Notwithstanding anything
contained elsewhere in this Constitution, the Constituent
Assembly shall decide by a simple majority at its first meeting
about whether or not to continue the monarchy in existence".
153 CPN(M) commitment paper, p. 19.
154 Prime Minister Koirala's probable successor, Sher Bahadur
Deuba, was deliberately vague when asked to describe the
process in an interview: "Q. Take for instance, the issue of
republic. Some say it will be implemented through the first
sitting of the Constituent Assembly, while others disagree.
What will happen? Deuba: Maybe it means the first session of
the first meeting. It won't be exactly like that; the issue of how
to choose a president could take time. Q. How will the republic
work? Will the king be ousted from the Narayanhiti [royal palace]
or what? Deuba: What the king will do, stay in Nepal or leave
the country, that is also unknown", interview, ekantipur.com, 15
March 2008.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 21
future, either by voting against a republic or mounting
a campaign for a referendum. The Maoists have already
indicated in their manifesto that they see the CA as an
opportunity to start from scratch - for example, by
appointing an acting executive president. Assuming these
hurdles can be crossed, the question of implementation
will have to be addressed. If a republic is endorsed, the
immediate future ofthe king and the appointment of a
new head of state will need to be managed. Neither the
Interim Constitution nor other written agreements address
the modalities of implementing the republic, and these
will certainly be contentious.
C.      POSSIBLE DESTABILISING FACTORS
Two armies. Both the state and the Maoist armies are
intact, as strong as ever and ready to fight if necessary.
Indeed, the former has grown stronger with public
rehabilitation of its reputation (helped by ineffective
government and worsening public security) and
recruitment to fill vacancies. It has also become bolder
in its political interventions - most notably on Maoist
integration and its public rejection of part ofthe eight-
point deal on Madhesi group entry into its ranks. Chief of
Army Staff Rookmangad Katwal made pointed comments
in his Army Day address about respecting the orders of
any government "established by constitutional law".155
Unlike efforts to claim earlier remarks on Maoist integration
had been misunderstood,156 he reinforced the message
by having his official spokesperson reiterate the main
points on the record the next day.157 On 20 March 2008,
the army bluntly warned it would not tolerate any
attempt to seize power by force or any elements that
sought to compromise national sovereignty or territorial
integrity.158
Lack of progress on integrating PLA fighters, while seen
by conservative opponents ofthe Maoists as a victory, is
precisely what more militant Maoist commanders sought.
Prachanda's shift from December 2007 (when he was
calling for integration before the elections) to January
2008 (when he announced it could be deferred until
after them) may look like a triumph for moderation but
is in fact a concession to those who want the PLA to be
intact on 11 April. PLA soldiers have been involved in
election campaigning (some even standing as candidates);
UNMESf believes some cantonments have permitted more
than the maximum 12 per cent of combatants to leave
at any one time.159 The progressive reassertion ofthe
military on both sides is the most dangerous shortcoming
ofthe peace process. The essence ofthe November 2006
CPA was a commitment that both forces would be
restrained, controlled by civilian politicians and stay
out of politics to allow elections to go ahead. This has
not happened: each has re-entrenched to protect its
basic interests and remains combat-ready.
Royalist rearguard action. Although most royalist
parties have indicated they will accept the CA's verdict
on the monarchy, the king and his staunchest supporters
may not be so accommodating. Their options are
narrowing and pre- or post-poll disruption is one ofthe
few avenues left to them to stall the process.160 The king
has become slightly more vocal (giving two interviews
after a long silence) but has made no public statement
directly indicating an intent to oppose the CA. Some
groups within the NC are more or less openly discussing
options, including a call for return to the 1990 constitution.
Former NC Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai has
hosted meetings ofthe like-minded to discuss plans. The
RPP(N) is still fighting for a referendum but is unlikely to
attract significant support. Some people close to the king
are still talking up the "democratic coup" plan, but the
army is unlikely to step in without international backing
and civilian, rather than royal, political cover.
Royalists have frequently hinted at secret Indian
guarantees ofthe monarchy's survival, but the resolution
ofthe Madhes movement suggested Delhi has decided not
"Sena divas 2064ko upalakshyama nepali senaka sakal
darjalai pradhansenapafiko sandesh", NA Headquarters, 6 March
2008, paragraph 5, at www.nepalarmy.mil.np/news.php?news
id=2173&& lan=np.
156 See "No need to create wave out of my remarks: Army
chief, ekantipur.com, 13 January 2008.
157 Army spokesperson Brigadier-General Rarnindra Chhetri
was quoted as saying: "Nowhere it is mentioned that Maoist
combatants will be integrated into [the] NA. Politically active
persons cannot be recruited into [the] army. Likewise, there
cannot be collective recruitment based on some ethnic group or
community", "NA no to recruitment of politically indoctrinated",
nepafnews.
com, 8 March 2008.
158 "NA won't bow down at elements aiming to seize power
forcefully", nepalnews.com, 20 March 2008.
See "Election Report No. 1", UNMN, Kathmandu 22 March
2008, at www.urunfn.org.np/downloads/publicafions/2008-03-
22-IJNMMElection.Report.l.ENG.pdf. Unarmed PLA and NA
soldiers in plain clothes can go out of their cantonments or
barracks on leave, for medical referral or to visit families - but
no more than 12 per cent of the total personnel at any location
may be absent at one time. "Agreement on Monitoring ofthe
Management of Arms and Armies", 8 December 2006,
paragraph 5.2(5).
160 See Kiran Nepal, "Antim ladain", Himal Khabarpatrika, 28
February 2008. This article quotes former royal minister Tanka
Dhakal warning that elections will only be possible with the
king on board and that there will be "great bloodshed" if
Gyanendra is sidelined.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 22
to offer the king an unconditional lifeline.161 Questioning
the CA elections' legitimacy, trying to use sympathetic
legislators and stalling for time are the best but still weak
options for the royalists. Opinion polls suggest a significant
minority still supports some form of monarchy, but there
are few ways to convert that abstract belief in the institution
into a practical rescue plan.162 Still, the monarchy is
unlikely to disappear without some final, possibly violent,
confrontation. Ifthe move to a republic is achieved with
a less than overwhelming public mandate, royalists
may still nurture hope of a return at some future date.
Weak peace process. Seven-party unity has sometimes
been little more than cosmetic, and the peace process
has been characterised by multiple agreements never
implemented. Critical CPA elements remain unaddressed,
despite explicit commitments in the 23-point agreement
to move them forward. Whatever the election outcome,
the Maoists will be keen to retain as much extra-
parliamentary leverage as possible and are unlikely to
dismantle all their parallel power structures. On 6
February they announced reestablishment oftheir United
Revolutionary People's Council, raising new doubts
over their commitment to dissolve those structures.163
Militant Maoists or royalists are far from the only threat
to peace. The experience ofthe Madhesi and ethnic
movements demonstrates that radicalism can spring from
different sources and rapidly assume a violent form. In the
absence of a solid peace process that transforms the basic
structure of the conflict, the idea that the CA will be a
panacea is an illusion. Weak governance and poor law and
order have dogged the run-up to the elections and will
probably be an even more severe problem in the aftermath.
VI.   CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY AND
BEYOND
A.    The Nature of the Constituent
ASSEMBLY
The CA is a sovereign body and will be at liberty to
define many of its own rules of conduct.164 In theory, it
will be free to endorse or overturn any agreements entered
into by the current government or its constituent parties.
It will also be able to amend the Interim Constitution
by a two-thirds vote.165 The CA's goal is not specifically
defined, although the preamble to the CPA and the
Interim Constitution contain statements of intent that
serve as non-binding guidelines.166 Broad public
agreement on core governance principles has been
reflected in the stated aims ofthe major parties, although
their manifestos differ in approach.
Procedures. The Interim Constitution establishes an
unusual decision-making system. Apart from the question
of the monarchy, all provisions are expected to be
adopted unanimously, with time-consuming procedures
for fresh consultations and voting if there is even one
opposing vote. Each provision will be voted on in
sequence and adopted if a quorum of two thirds is in
attendance and no opposing vote is cast.167 Failing this,
it will be referred to consultation between parliamentary
party leaders before a fresh vote within 21 days and,
failing unanimity, a further, final two-thirds majority
In the wake of the 23-point agreement, endorsed by New
Delhi, that called for a republic, royalists were still confident
that India would rescue the king. Rabindranath Sharma, then
leader of the aggressively pro-palace RPP (Nepal) party, said,
"India has still left a place for monarchy. I think India is
negotiating with the king", interview, Spotlight, 28 December
2007. The prime minister's signature on the eight-point
agreement with the UDMF in February 2008, which confirmed
the commitment to a federal democratic republic, and the
changed language of royalist leaders such as Surya Bahadur
Thapa suggests hopes of an Indian bailout have receded.,
162 Royalists took heart from a survey that reported 49 per cent
support for the monarchy, Sudhindra Sharma and Pawan Kumar
Sen, "Nepal Contemporary Political Situation V: Nationwide
Opinion Survey", Interdisciplinary Analysts, Kathmandu, March
2008. Other research such as a large April 2007 survey which
found 59 per cent in favour of a republic, suggest support for
the monarchy is dwindling. "State of Democracy in Nepal",
International IDEA, June 2007, at www.idea.int/asia_pacific
/nepaJ7upload/nepal_survey_keyfindings07.pdf
163 Press statement, United Revolutionary People's Council,
Kathmandu, 6 February 2008.
For the constitutional provisions on the CA, see Crisis
Group Report, Nepal's Constitutional Process, op. cit. The
UNDP's CASU has made resources and reports available at
www.undp.org.np/constitutionbuilding/. The report of a 3-4
March 2007 conference is particularly useful: "Constitution
Making in Nepal", UNDP, Kathmandu, 2007, at www.undp.
org.np/constitutionbuilding/elibrary/constitutionnepal/First%2
0Report%20Full%20English.pdf.
165 The Interim Constitution permits the legislature-parliament
to amend the constitution in this way (Art. 148) and states that
the CA shall exercise the same powers once it replaces the
interim legislature (Art. 59).
166 The CPA's preamble lists the tasks ofthe new constitution:
"progressive restructuring ofthe state"; resolution of "problems
related with class, ethnicity, regional and gender differences";
and principles of "competitive multiparty democratic system,
civil liberties, fundamental rights, human rights, complete press
freedom, rule of law and all other norms and values of democratic
system". The Interim Constitution echoes this list but does not
require that the eventual constitution must be in accord with it.
See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Constitutional Process, op.
cit, p. 10.
167 Interim Constitution, Art. 70(l)-(2). It is unclear from the
text what happens if members abstain.
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 23
vote.168 Separately, an absolute two-thirds majority can
refer to a referendum "a decision on any matters of
national importance, except when this conflicts with
provisions elsewhere in the constitution".169 This has been
taken to exclude a referendum on the monarchy; although
the Interim Constitution no longer specifies requirements
for a vote on the monarchy, its unambiguous provision
for immediate implementation of a republic presumably
counts as a provision that rules out a referendum.170
The structural bias towards unanimous decisions may
encourage consensus building but will also allow
individuals to stall progress. The role assigned to party
leaders may well encourage backroom horse-trading
instead of open debate. The lack of a provision for agenda
setting, drafting and ordering of votes could further
empower political leaders over legislators. The CA is
entitled to set up such committees as it deems necessary
and could either request additional secretariat support
or delegate drafting to cross-party committees.171
Negotiations over structures could be complex if parties
see partisan advantage in specific mechanisms. However,
faith in the process will be strengthened if committees
or other structures function transparently and make drafts
available to the public as they are submitted for debate.
The CA as legislature. The CA's dual function saves
costs and electoral complications but raises the risk of
trade-offs between its constitution-making and legislative
functions. It is for the CA itself to decide how it wishes
to divide its roles. The Interim Constitution states that
the CA acts as the legislature as long as it is in existence
but that it may delegate legislative duties to a separate
committee.172 In any case, bargaining over day-to-day
legislation could lead to party deals to gain support for
constitutional provisions. Restricting the CA's legislative
mandate (either by constitutional provision or party
commitments to avoid enacting all but essential
legislation) could prevent some of these problems.
However, as even the unelected interim legislature
demonstrated an appetite for legislating across the board,
it is unlikely that any proposal to limit legislative scope
would win party backing in the CA. Transparency of
procedures and debates, coupled with public participation
in constitutional discussions, are the best remaining
168 Ibid, Art. 70 (3-6).
169 Ibid, Art. 157.
170 Of course, the scope for referendum^ could be redefined by
constitutional amendment.
171 Parties have proposed certain mechanisms. For example, the
NC envisages a main constitution drafting committee assisted
by subject-specific expert committees or sub-committees. NC
manifesto, p. 30.
172 Interim Constitution, Art. 83(1).
bulwarks against the CA falling victim to disputes over
relatively minor legislation.
Duration. The Interim Constitution gives the CA two
years to complete its work, with a possible six-month
extension in case of a "declaration of an emergency
situation".173 This is a reasonable timeframe, but the
consistent track record of missed deadlines in the peace
process suggests delays are entirely possible. The Interim
Constitution specifies the need to use emergency powers
to enable an extension but, as in other areas, the CA
could decide that as a sovereign body, it is entitled to
extend its timeframe by other means. Perhaps more
worrying is the provision for early dissolution of the
CA (by its own resolution),174 which could lead to
suspension ofthe constitutional process mid-way without
any framework for continuing executive, legislative
or constitution-drafting functions.
Implementation. It may seem premature to worry
about how to implement a constitution the drafting of
which has not yet begun. However, constitutional experts
stress that implementation is increasingly recognised as
the most important part of the constitutional process.
Without viable plans to put it into practice, even the
best document may fail to achieve its aims.175
B.    The Big Issues
Although much attention has been focused on the
monarch's future, several other major issues are likely
to generate serious debate:
Security sector reform. Despite its centrality to
ending the conflict and building a sustainable peace,
the shape of Nepal's security sector is yet to be
discussed. There are only cursory, poorly defined
commitments in the CPA (to make the army more
representative and subject to democratic control and
to "integrate" Maoist combatants). The committee
that was supposed to take discussion forward has met
only once and made no progress.
Federalism. This will cause much debate. All major
parties - even the RPP(N) - have formally accepted some
form of federalism but there has been little discussion
within them on principles or practicalities. There remains
wide opposition across the political spectrum, including
from prominent opinion-formers in academia, media
and civil society. Little attention has been paid to the
1/3 Ibid, Art. 64.
174 Ibid, Art. 64.
175 See "Constitution Making in Nepal", UNDP, Kathmandu,
2007, p. 23.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 24
bureaucracy needed to support federal governance or a
complex system of quotas and reservations. Related to
federalism but not synonymous with it is the longstanding
demand for more decentralisation. The 1999 Local Self-
Governance Act, which devolved some budgetary
authority to Village Development Committees (VDCs), the
lowest level of local government, was widely seen as
a success but the dissolution of local elected bodies in
2002 and the displacement of most VDC secretaries
during the conflict (and latterly the Madhes unrest)
halted progress.
Secularism and inclusiveness. Parliament proclaimed
Nepal a secular state in May 2006. All major parties are
committed to endorsing this in the constitution, but it is
an emotional issue that has already generated some
passionate opposition, as well as criticism from Indian
Hindu groups and parties. The CA may restart debate.
The question of reservations, quotas or other forms of
affirmative action will be hard fought. While the quotas
in the CA electoral system may be seen as a precedent,
there is unlikely to be easy agreement on whether the
constitution should guarantee specific measures or
contain only a general provision for later legislation to
implement.176
Government structure and state institutions. The
Maoists call for an executive presidency with a prime
minister elected by parliament to oversee day-to-day
administration. The UML wants a weak, ceremonial
presidency with a directly elected executive prime
minister. Some parties talk of making the state more
representative, accessible and accountable. The Maoists,
for example, seek to overhaul the judicial system and
bureaucracy.
International relations. The Maoists have called for
revoking the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship with
India, as well as tighter controls on foreign capital.
International treaties or other agreements involving
major natural resource issues are already subject to
certain restrictions,177 and some may push for even
stricter constitutional provisions, especially in the
light of pre-election awards of large hydropower
176 The 1990 Constitution specifically authorised "special
provisions... for the protection and advancement ofthe interests
of women, children, the aged or those who are physically or
mentally incapacitated or those who belong to a class which is
economically, socially or educationally backward", Art. 11(3).
However, no legislation was introduced to establish such
provisions.
177 Ratifying, acceding to, accepting or approving such treaties
or agreements requires a two-thirds parliamentary majority,
Interim Constitution, Art. 156(2).
contracts.178 Apart from this, the major parties' stances
on foreign relations are similarly bland. The NC and UML
manifestos are indistinguishable in their commitment to
base foreign policy on the UN Charter and panchsheel,
the doctrine of non-interference.179 All parties promise to
maintain good relations with India and China; the Maoist
proposal that Nepal should be a "bridge" between them
to take advantage oftheir fast-growing economies echoes
King Gyanendra's priority following his 2005 coup.180
C.      PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
A meaningful process will require much better
mechanisms for public consultation and participation
than in the past. There has been no shortage of advice
on how to accomplish this, ranging from a full-fledged
constitutional commission (an idea unpopular with
political leaders) to support structures to manage public
discussions, invite and analyse individual or group
suggestions and maintain transparent debate.181
The major parties, however, show little interest in public
consultation, despite the strong evidence that a more
participatory drafting process on the Interim Constitution
and firmer commitments to a similar CA exercise might
have headed off some ofthe street agitations that forced
pre-CA deals on key issues. The UML does not mention
public participation in its manifesto; the Maoists make a
single-sentence promise to adopt "appropriate mechanisms"
to guarantee the active participation of "the general
population, different interest groups and experts".182
The NC gives it more space and has more concrete
proposals for public hearings and consultations with a
variety of groups, as well as for CA committees to consult
interest groups and experts on particular issues.183
178 For example, the 2 March 2008 award ofthe 402MW Arun
IE hydropower project to India's Sutlej Jai Vidyut Nigam raised
controversy. Nevertheless, the CPN(M) is sticking with the
two-thirds ratification rule, insisting only that it be
rigorously enforced, commitment paper, p. 18.
179 NC manifesto, pp. 19-20. UML manifesto, pp. 37-38.
180 See July 2005 budget speech at www.mof.gov.np/publication
/speech/2005/pdf/BudgetSpeech_englishpdf.
181 The UNDP's CASU has offered significant support and
guidance on possible mechanisms for public participation See,
for example, Yash Ghai, "A participatory process for making
a new constitution", CASU paper, at www.undp.org.np/constit
utionbuilding/elibrary/constitutionnepal/Participatory%20pro
cess%20English.pdf.
182 CPN(M) Commitment Paper, p. 16.
183 NC manifesto, p. 30.
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N°149, 2 April 2008 Page 25
VII. CONCLUSION
Even a successful election will only mark the opening
ofthe next stage in the peace process. Many ofthe most
critical tasks have been left on the back burner as
attention has focused on the election. Surviving the
rocky road to the polls and their probably turbulent
aftermath will require maturity, cooperation and forward
planning from the main parties. A managed transition to
the CA is possible but the range of potentially disruptive
factors is daunting. The parties' first commitment must
be to respect the election's outcome, as long as it is
broadly free and fair. Whatever the results, seven-party
cohesion would smooth the way forward, but leaders will
need to prepare for a broader unity government that
includes other parties that do well at the polls. Tackling
the sensitive remaining parts ofthe peace deal will then
be a priority - starting with grasping the nettle of security
sector reform and converting the extended military
ceasefire into structural support for sustainable peace.
Progress on security, justice, reconstruction and economic
development would help to maintain popular support
for the constitutional process.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 2 April 2008
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 26
APPENDIX A
MAP OF NEPAL
Map No. 4304   UNITED NATIONS
January 2007 (Colour)
Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Cartographic Section
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 27
APPENDIX B
GLOSSARY OF ACRONYMS
APF
CA
CDO
CEC
CPA
CPN(M)
DEA
DEO
EC
EEMT
EOM
FPTP
FRNF
IC
JTMM
MJF
NA
NC
NC(D)
NSP(A)
NWPP
OHCHR
PLA
PR
RJP
RPP
RPP(N)
SPA
TMDP
UDMF
Armed Police Force
Constituent Assembly
Chief District Officer
Chief Election Commissioner
Comprehensive Peace Agreement
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
District Election Adviser
District Election Officer
Election Commission
Electoral Expert Monitoring Team
Election Observation Mission
First Past The Post
Federal Republican National Front
Interim Constitution
Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (in two factions: Jwala Singh (JS) and Goit (G))
Madhesi Janadhikar Forum
Nepal Army
Nepali Congress
Nepali Congress (Democratic)
Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi)
Nepal Workers and Peasants Party
Office ofthe United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
People's Liberation Army (Maoist)
Proportional Representation
Rashtriya Janashakti Party
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal)
Seven-Party Alliance (includes NC, UML, NSP(A), NC(D), Janamorcha Nepal, NWPP and ULF)
Tarai Madhes Democratic Party
United Democratic Madhesi Front
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N°149, 2 April 2008 Page 28
UML Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
UNMIN United Nations Mission in Nepal
YCL Young Communist League
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 29
APPENDIX C
ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP
The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an
independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation,
with some 140 staff members on five continents, working
through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to
prevent and resolve deadly conflict.
Crisis Group's approach is grounded in field research.
Teams of political analysts are located within or close by
countries at risk of outbreak, escalation or recurrence of
violent conflict. Based on information and assessments from
the field, it produces analytical reports containing practical
recommendations targeted at key international decision-
takers. Crisis Group also publishes CrisisWatch, a twelve-
page monthly bulletin, providing a succinct regular update
on the state of play in all the most significant situations of
conflict or potential conflict around the world.
Crisis Group's reports and briefing papers are distributed
widely by email and printed copy to officials in foreign
ministries and international organisations and made available
simultaneously on the website, www.crisisgroup.org.
Crisis Group works closely with governments and those who
influence them, including the media, to highlight its crisis
analyses and to generate support for its policy prescriptions.
The Crisis Group Board - which includes prominent
figures from the fields of politics, diplomacy, business
and the media - is directly involved in helping to bring the
reports and recommendations to the attention of senior policymakers around the world. Crisis Group is co-chaired by the
former European Commissioner for External Relations
Christopher Patten and former U.S. Ambassador Thomas
Pickering. Its President and Chief Executive since January
2000 has been former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth
Evans.
Crisis Group's international headquarters are in Brussels, with
advocacy offices in Washington DC (where it is based
as a legal entity), New York, London and Moscow. The
organisation currently operates eleven regional offices
(in Bishkek, Bogota, Cairo, Dakar, Islamabad, Istanbul,
Jakarta, Nairobi, Pristina, Seoul and Tbilisi) and has local
field representation in sixteen additional locations (Abuja,
Baku, Bangkok, Beirut, Belgrade, Colombo, Damascus,
Dili, Dushanbe, Jerusalem, Kabul, Kathmandu, Kinshasa,
Port-au-Prince, Pretoria and Tehran). Crisis Group
currently covers some 60 areas of actual or potential
conflict across four continents. In Africa, this includes
Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'lvoire,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia,
Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe; in Asia, Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Myanmar/Burma, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Phillipines,
Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan
and Uzbekistan; in Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, Serbia and
Turkey; in the Middle East, the whole region from North
Africa to Iran; and in Latin America, Colombia, the rest of
the Andean region and Haiti.
Crisis Group raises funds from governments, charitable
foundations, companies and individual donors. The
following governmental departments and agencies currently
provide funding: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs
and Trade, Australian Agency for International Development,
Austrian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belgian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Affairs and
International Trade Canada, Canadian International
Development Agency, Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finnish Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
German Foreign Office, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs,
Principality of Liechtenstein Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs, New Zealand
Agency for International Development, Royal Danish
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Norwegian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs,
Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Turkish
Ministry of Foreign affairs, United Kingdom Foreign and
Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom Department for
International Development, Economic and Social Research
Council UK, U.S. Agency for International Development.
Foundation and private sector donors include Carnegie
Corporation of New York, Carso Foundation, Fundacion
DARA Internacional, Iara Lee and George Gund III
Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Hunt
Alternatives Fund, Kimsey Foundation, Korea Foundation,
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Charles
Stewart Mott Foundation, Open Society Institute, Pierre
and Pamela Omidyar Fund, Victor Pinchuk Foundation,
Ploughshares Fund, Provictimis Foundation, Radcliffe
Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust and VIVA Trust.
April 2008
Further information about Crisis Group can be obtained from our website: www.crisisgroup.org
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 30
APPENDIX D
INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP REPORTS AND BRIEFINGS ON ASIA SINCE 2005
CENTRAL ASIA
The Curse of Cotton: Central Asia's Destructive
Monoculture, Asia Report N°93, 28 February 2005 (also
available in Russian)
Kyrgyzstan: After the Revolution, Asia Report N°97, 4 May
2005 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: TheAndijon Uprising, Asia Briefing N°3 8, 25 May
2005 (also available in Russian)
Kyrgyzstan: A Faltering State, Asia Report N°109, 16
December 2005 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: In for the Long Haul, Asia Briefing N°45, 16
February 2006 (also available in Russian)
CentralAsia: What Role for the European Union?, Asia Report
N°l 13, 10 April 2006
Kyrgyzstan's Prison System Nightmare, Asia Report N°l 18,
16 August 2006 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: Europe's Sanctions Matter, Asia Briefing N°54,
6 November 2006
Kyrgyzstan on the Edge, Asia Briefing N°55, 9 November
2006 (also available in Russian)
Turkmenistan after Niyazov, Asia Briefing N°60, 12
February 2007
Central Asia's Energy Risks, Asia Report N°133, 24 May
2007 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: Stagnation and Uncertainty, Asia Briefing
N°67, 22 August 2007
Political Murder in CentralAsia: No Time to End Uzbekistan's
Isolation, Asia Briefing N°76, 13 February 2008
NORTH EAST ASIA
North Korea: Can the Iron Fist Accept the Invisible Hand?,
Asia Report N°96, 25 April 2005 (also available in Korean and
Russian)
Japan and North Korea: Bones of Contention, Asia Report
N°100, 27 June 2005 (also available in Korean)
China and Taiwan: Uneasy Detente, Asia Briefing N°42, 21
September 2005
North East Asia's Undercurrents of Conflict, Asia Report N°108,
15 December 2005 (also available in Korean and Russian)
China and North Korea: Comrades Forever?, Asia Report
N°112, 1 February 2006 (also available in Korean)
After North Korea's Missile Launch: Are the Nuclear Talks
Dead?, Asia Briefing N°52, 9 August 2006 (also available in
Korean and Russian)
Perilous Journeys: The Plight of North Koreans in China
and Beyond, Asia Report N°122, 26 October 2006 (also
available in Korean and Russian)
North Korea's Nuclear Test: The Fallout, Asia Briefing N°56, 13
November 2006 (also available in Korean and Russian)
After the North Korean Nuclear Breakthrough: Compliance
or Confrontation?, Asia Briefing N°62, 30 April 2007 (also
available in Korean and Russian)
North Korea-Russia Relations: A Strained Friendship, Asia
Briefing N°71, 4 December 2007 (also available in Russian)
South Korea's Election: What to Expect from President Lee,
Asia Briefing N°73, 21 December 2007
SOUTH ASIA
Nepal's Royal Coup: Making a Bad Situation Worse, Asia
Report N°91, 9 February 2005
Afghanistan: Getting Disarmament Back on Track, Asia
BriefingN°35,23 February 2005
Nepal: Responding to the Royal Coup, Asia Briefing N°35,
24 February 2005
Nepal: Dealing with a Human Rights Crisis, Asia Report N°94,
24 March 2005
The State of Sectarianism in Pakistan, Asia Report N°95, 18
April 2005
Political Parties in Afghanistan, Asia Briefing N°39, 2 June 2005
Towards a Lasting Peace in Nepal- The Constitutional Issues,
Asia Report N°99, 15 June 2005
Afghanistan Elections: Endgame or New Beginning?, Asia
Report N°101, 21 July 2005
Nepal: Beyond Royal Rule, Asia Briefing N°41,15 September 2005
Authoritarianism and Political Party Reform in Pakistan,
Asia Report N°102, 28 September 2005
Nepal's Maoists: Their Aims, Structure and Strategy, Asia
Report N° 104, 27 October 2005 (also available in Nepali)
Pakistan's Local Polls: Shoring Up Military Rule, Asia
Briefing N°43, 22 November 2005
Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists,
Asia Report N° 106,28 November 2005
Rebuilding the Afghan State: The European Union's Role,
Asia Report N°107, 30 November 2005
Nepal: Electing Chaos, Asia Report N° 111, 31 January 2006
Pakistan: Political Impact ofthe Earthquake, Asia Briefing
N°46, 15 March 2006
Nepal's Crisis: Mobilising Intemational Influence, Asia Briefing
N°49,19 April 2006
Nepal: From People Power to Peace?, Asia Report N°115,
10 May 2006 (also available in Nepali)
Afghanistan's New Legislature: Making Democracy  Work,
Asia Report N°l 16, 15 May 2006
India, Pakistan and Kashmir: Stabilising a Cold Peace, Asia
Briefing N°51, 15 June 2006
Pakistan: the Worsening Conflict in Balochistan, Asia Report
N°119, 14 September 2006
Bangladesh Today, Asia Report N°121, 23 October 2006
Countering Afghanistan's Insurgency: No  Quick Fixes,
Asia Report N°123, 2 November 2006
Sri Lanka: The Failure of the Peace Process, Asia Report
N°124, 28 November 2006
Pakistan's Tribal Areas: Appeasing the Militants, Asia Report
N°125, 11 December 2006
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 31
Nepal's Peace Agreement: Making it Work, Asia Report N°126,
15 December 2006
Afghanistan's Endangered Compact, Asia Briefing N°59, 29
January 2007
Nepal's Constitutional Process, Asia Report N°128, 26
February 2007 (also available in Nepali)
Pakistan: Karachi's Madrasas and Violent Extremism, Asia
Report N°130, 29 March 2007
Discord in Pakistan's Northern Areas, Asia Report N° 131, 2
April 2007
Nepal's Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?, Asia Report N°132,
18 May 2007 (also available in Nepali)
Sri Lanka's Muslims: Caught in the Crossfire, Asia Report
N°134, 29 May 2007
Sri Lanka's Human Rights Crisis, Asia Report N°135, 14
June 2007
Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, Asia Report N°136, 9 July
2007 (also available in Nepali)
Elections, Democracy and Stability in Pakistan, Asia Report
N°137, 31 July 2007
Reforming Afghanistan's Police, Asia Report N°138, 30 August
2007
Nepal's Fragile Peace Process, Asia Briefing N°68,28 September
2007 (also available in Nepali)
Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan, Asia Briefing
N°69, 22 October 2007
Sri Lanka: Sinhala Nationalism and the Elusive Southern
Consensus, Asia Report N°141, 7 November 2007
Winding Back Martial Law in Pakistan, Asia Briefing N°70,
12 November 2007
Nepal: Peace Postponed, Asia Briefing N°72, 18 December
2007 (also available in Nepali)
After Bhutto's Murder: A Way Forward for Pakistan, Asia
Briefing N°74, 2 January 2008
Afghanistan: The Need for Intemational Resolve, Asia
Report N° 145, 6 February 2008
Sri Lanka's Return to War: Limiting the Damage, Asia
Report N° 146, 20 February 2008
SOUTH EAST ASIA
Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the
Australian Embassy Bombing, Asia Report N°92, 22 February
2005 (also available in Indonesian)
Decentralisation and Conflict in Indonesia: The Mamasa
Case, Asia Briefing N°37, 3 May 2005
Southern Thailand: Insurgency, Not Jihad, Asia Report
N°98, 18 May 2005 (also available in Thai)
Aceh: A New Chance for Peace, Asia Briefing N°40,15 August 2005
Weakening Indonesia's Mujahidin Networks: Lessons from
Maluku andPoso, Asia Report N° 103, 13 October 2005 (also
available in Indonesian)
Thailand's Emergency Decree: No Solution, Asia Report N°105,
18 November 2005 (also available in Thai)
Aceh: So Far, So Good, Asia Briefing N°44, 13 December 2005
(also available in Indonesian)
Philippines Terrorism: The Role of Militant Islamic Converts,
Asia Report N°l 10, 19 December 2005
Papua: The Dangers of Shutting Down Dialogue, Asia Briefing
N°47, 23 March 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh: Now for the Hard Part, Asia Briefing N°48,29 March 2006
Managing Tensions on the Timor-Leste/Indonesia Border,
Asia Briefing N°50, 4 May 2006
Terrorism in Indonesia:  Noordin's Networks,  Asia  Report
N°l 14, 5 May 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Islamic Law and Criminal Justice in Aceh, Asia Report N° 117,
31 July 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Papua:   Answers   to   Frequently  Asked   Questions,   Asia
Briefing N°53, 5 September 2006
Resolving Timor-Leste's Crisis, Asia Report N°120, 10 October
2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh's   Local  Elections:   The   Role   of the   Free  Aceh
Movement (GAM), Asia Briefing N°57, 29 November 2006
Myanmar: New Threats to Humanitarian Aid, Asia Briefing
N°58, 8 December 2006
Jihadism in Indonesia: Poso on the Edge, Asia Report N° 127,
24 January 2007
Southern Thailand: The Impact of the Coup, Asia Report
N°129, 15 March 2007 (also available in Thai)
Indonesia: How GAM Won inAceh , Asia Briefing N°61, 22
March 2007
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Current Status, Asia Briefing
N°63, 3 May 2007
Indonesia: Decentralisation and Local Power Struggles in
Maluku, Asia Briefing N°64, 22 May 2007
Timor-Leste's Parliamentary Elections, Asia Briefing N°65,
12 June 2007
Indonesian Papua: A Local Perspective on the Conflict, Asia
Briefing N°66, 19 July 2007 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh: Post-Conflict Complications, Asia Report N°139, 4
October 2007 (also available in Indonesian)
Southern Thailand: The Problem with Paramilitaries, Asia
Report N° 140, 23 October 2007 (also available in Thai)
"Deradicalisation"   and  Indonesian   Prisons,   Asia   Report
N°142, 19 November 2007
Timor-Leste: Security Sector Reform, Asia Report N°143, 17
January 2008 (also available in Tetum)
Indonesia: Tackling Radicalism in Poso, Asia Briefing N°75,
22 January 2008
Burma/Myanmar: After the Crackdown, Asia Report N°144,
31 January 2008
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Publishing Industry, Asia
Report N°147, 28 February 2008
Timor-Leste's Displacement Crisis, Asia Report N°148, 31
March 2008
OTHER REPORTS AND BRIEFINGS
For Crisis Group reports and briefing papers on:
Africa
Asia
Europe
Latin America and Caribbean
Middle East and North Africa
Thematic Issues
CrisisWatch
please visit our website www.crisisgroup.org
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 32
APPENDIX E
INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Co-Chairs
Christopher Patten
Former European Commissioner for External Relations,
Governor of Hong Kong and UK Cabinet Minister; Chancellor of
Oxford University
Thomas Pickering
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Russia, India, Israel, Jordan,
El Salvador and Nigeria
President & CEO
Gareth Evans
Former Foreign Minister of Australia
Executive Committee
Morton Abramowitz
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador to Turkey
Cheryl Carolus
Former South African  High   Commissioner  to   the   UK and
Secretary General ofthe ANC
Maria Livanos Cattaui*
Former Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce
Yoichi Funabashi
Editor-in-Chief & Columnist, The Asahi Shimbun, Japan
Frank Giustra
Chairman, Endeavour Financial, Canada
Stephen Solarz
Former U.S. Congressman
George Soros
Chairman, Open Society Institute
Par Stenback
Former Foreign Minister of Finland
*Vice-Chair
Adnan Abu-Odeh
Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah II and to King Hussein
and Jordan Permanent Representative to the UN
Kenneth Adelman
Former U.S. Ambassador and Director of the Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency
Ersin Arioglu
Member of Parliament, Turkey; Chairman Emeritus, Yapi Merkezi
Group
Shlomo Ben-Ami
Former Foreign Minister of Israel
Lakhdar Brahimi
Former Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General and Algerian
Foreign Minister
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor to the President
Kim Campbell
Former Prime Minister of Canada
Naresh Chandra
Former Indian Cabinet Secretary and Ambassador of India to the U.S.
Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Former President of Mozambique
Victor Chu
Chairman, First Eastern Investment Group, Hong Kong
Wesley Clark
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Pat Cox
Former President of European Parliament
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Foreign Minister of Denmark
Mark Eyskens
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Joschka Fischer
Former Foreign Minister of Germany
Leslie H. Gelb
President Emeritus of Council on Foreign Relations, U.S.
Carla Hills
Former Secretary of Housing and U.S. Trade Representative
Lena Hjelm-Wallen
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister,
Sweden
Swanee Hunt
Chair,   The  Initiative for Inclusive Security; President,  Hunt
Alternatives Fund; former Ambassador U.S. to Austria
Anwar Ibrahim
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief;
Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Nancy Kassebaum Baker
Former U.S. Senator
James V. Kimsey
Founder and Chairman Emeritus of America Online, Inc. (AOL)
Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister of Netherlands
Ricardo Lagos
Former President of Chile; President, Club of Madrid
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Novelist and journalist, U.S.
Ayo Obe
Chair of Steering Committee of World Movement for Democracy,
Nigeria
Christine Ockrent
Journalist and author, France
 Nepal's Election and Beyond
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 149, 2 April 2008
Page 33
Victor Pinchuk
Founder oflnterpipe Scientific and Industrial Production Group
Samantha Power
Author and Professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard
University
Fidel V. Ramos
Former President of Philippines
Ghassan Salame
Former Minister, Lebanon; Professor of International Relations, Paris
Douglas Schoen
Founding Partner of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, U.S.
Thorvald Stoltenberg
Former Foreign Minister of Norway
Ernesto Zedillo
Former President of Mexico; Director, Yale Center for the Study
of Globalization
PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL
Crisis Group's President's Council is a distinguished group of major individual and corporate donors providing essential
support, time and expertise to Crisis Group in delivering its core mission.
Khalid Alireza
Canaccord Adams Limited
Bob Cross
Equinox Partners
Frank Holmes
Iara Lee & George Gund III
Foundation
Ford Nicholson
Ian Telfer
Guy Ullens de Schooten
Neil Woodyer
Don Xia
INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
Crisis Group's International Advisory Council comprises significant individual and corporate donors who contribute their
advice and experience to Crisis Group on a regular basis.
Rita E. Hauser
(Co-Chair)
Elliott Kulick
(Co-Chair)
Marc Abramowitz
Hamza al Kholi
Anglo American PLC
APCO Worldwide Inc.
Ed Bachrach
Patrick Benzie
Stanley Bergman &
Edward Bergman
BHP Billiton
Harry Bookey and
Pamela Bass-Bookey
John Chapman Chester
Chevron
Citigroup
Richard Cooper
Credit Suisse
Neil & Sandy DeFeo
John Ehara
Frontier Strategy Group
Seth Ginns
Alan Griffiths
Charlotte & Fred
Hubbell
Khaled Juffali
George Kellner
Amed Khan
Shiv Vikram Khemka
Scott Lawlor
StatoilHydro ASA
McKinsey & Company
Harriet Mouchly-Weiss
Najib Mikati
Donald Pels
PT Newmont Pacific
Nusantara (Robert
Humberson)
Michael Riordan
Tilleke & Gibbins
Vale
VIVATrust
Stanley Weiss
Yasuyo Yamazaki
Yapi Merkezi
Construction and
Industry Inc.
Shinji Yazaki
Sunny Yoon
SENIOR ADVISERS
Crisis Group's Senior Advisers are former Board Members (not presently holding national government executive office) who
maintain an association with Crisis Group, and whose advice and support are called on from time to time.
Martti Ahtisaari
(Chairman Emeritus)
Diego Arria
Paddy Ashdown
Zainab Bangura
Christoph Bertram
Jorge Castaneda
Alain Destexhe
Marika Fahlen
Stanley Fischer
Malcolm Fraser
Bronislaw Geremek
I.K. Gujral
Max Jakobson
Todung Mulya Lubis
Allan J. MacEachen
Barbara McDougall
Matthew McHugh
George J. Mitchell
(Chairman Emeritus)
Surin Pitsuwan
Cyril Ramaphosa
George Robertson
Michel Rocard
Volker Ruehe
Mohamed Sahnoun
Salim A. Salim
William Taylor
Leo Tindemans
Ed van Thijn
Shirley Williams
Grigory Yavlinski
Uta Zapf

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