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Nepal: From People Power to Peace? International Crisis Group 2006-05-10

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Asia Report N° 115 - 10 May 2006
Crisis Group
A. The Foundations 2
1. The parties' plans 2
2. The Maoist role 2
B. The Pressure Mounts 3
1. Parties in control? 4
2. Maoist mobilisers 4
3. Wide participation 5
4. The capital encircled 6
C. Why the Palace Got It Wrong 7
1. The counter-strategy 7
2. Tactical failures 7
3. Missing ministers 8
A. The First Cracks 9
B. Parties Reject the Offer 10
D. The First Act Ends 13
A. The Alliance Victorious 14
1. Consensus or divisions? 14
2. A Constitutional parliament? 15
3. Dealing with the Maoists, the king and the army 15
1. The initial response 16
2. They will probably play ball 17
3. ... But push hard and keep other options open 17
C. The Palace: Down but Not Out 18
D. Diplomahc Realignment 19
A. Weak Government, Willing Donors 21
B. Peace Process 22
C. Containing the King 23
D. Controlling the Army 24
E. Transitional Justice 25
F. Preparing for Constitutional Change 26
A. Map of Nepal 28
B. King Gyanendra's Proclamations 29
C. About the Internahonal Crisis Group 31
D. Crisis Group Reports and Briefings on Asia 32
E. Crisis Group Board of Trustees 34
Crisis Group
Asia Report N°l 15
10 May 2006
King Gyanendra's capitulation on 24 April 2006 in the
face of a mass movement marked a victory for democracy
in Nepal and, with a ceasefire between the new
government and the Maoists now in place, the start of a
serious peace process. Forced to acknowledge the "spirit
ofthe people's movement", Gyanendra accepted popular
sovereignty, reinstated parliament and invited the
mainstream seven-party alliance to implement its roadmap
- including election of a constituent assembly to rewrite
the constitution in line with the parties' five-month-old
agreement with the Maoists. The international community
lost credibility by attempting to pressure the parties into
an unworkable compromise with the king and must now
work hard to support a difficult transition and peace
process while avoiding similar mistakes.
The pro-democracy movement was a victory for the
Nepali people on four fronts:
□ Over the king. Nepal witnessed changes in mood
during the several weeks of protests and strikes
in April but there had long been widespread
discontent with the king and his direct rule. The
mass defiance of curfews to march against the
monarchy following the king's misjudged first
offer on 21 April was a decisive popular verdict
which - even in the face of the massed ranks of
loyal security forces - left the king with no option
but surrender.
□ Over the parties. People remained suspicious ofthe
parties, both on the basis oftheir mixed record in
government and their perceived willingness to
do a deal with the king against the country's best
interests. Nevertheless, most hoped sustained
pressure would force the parties to provide
representative political leadership in tune with
public sentiment - an approach that has so far
yielded concrete results.
□ Over the Maoists. Maoist support, much as
mainstream democrats are loath to admit it, was
crucial to the movement's success. But people did
not rally under the Maoist flag, even in rural areas
where the insurgents had directly urged their
participation. While most endorsed elements of
the Maoist agenda they did not heed calls for a
revolutionary insurrection and sent a strong signal
that people power is a constraint on the actions of
the rebels as well as the palace and parties.
□ Over the international community. Nepal is
particularly exposed to external influence.
Sandwiched between regional superpowers and
long dependent on foreign aid, its leaders and
people have often looked to outsiders at times of
crisis. This time India, the U.S. and some European
powers did help to create the environment for a
democracy movement but were brushed off when
they appeared to press for an unpopular solution to
end the crisis.
The fact that the people at large, rather than purely party-
or Maoist-organised action, forced the king's final climb
down puts them in their rightful place at the centre of
Nepal's politics and acts as a powerful constraint on
misbehaviour by the major players. That they did so in
the face of a coordinated international campaign to halt
the protests means they need not be beholden to outside
forces - this was a victory they won for themselves.
That they successfully encouraged the parties to stand
firm against the ill-advised external pressure bodes well
for fostering genuine national ownership and direction
of a peace process and constitutional reform.
The people's movement vindicated the parties' November
2005 twelve-point agreement with the Maoists, without
which the movement would never have been possible.
It also conclusively rejected the proposition that
reconciliation between the palace and the parties to fight
the Maoists was the only way forward. Encouragingly,
the parties and the Maoists have reaffirmed their
commitment to their joint peace plan. Solid self-interest
underlies the twelve-point agreement; though there is no
guarantee, implementing it successfully is still the most
attractive option for both sides.
Nepal's much maligned political parties have recovered
much ofthe popular credit they had squandered while in
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°115, 10 May 2006
Page ii
office and while leading the earlier half-hearted "anti-
regression" campaign against royal rule. However, the
initial moves to form the new government were less
inspiring, with squabbling over the allocation of ministerial
portfolios delaying the process. The government of 84-
year old Prime Mnister Girija Prasad Koirala, who was
sworn in on 30 April, is only an interim administration,
with limited legitimacy to act in areas other than pursuing
the existing roadmap for ending the conflict. It faces four
immediate challenges:
□ keeping the peace process on track;
□ containing the king and controlling the army;
□ planning for constitutional change; and
□ responding to calls for transitional justice.
The international community will win back respect
in Nepal if it helps the government as it tackles these
challenges in an environment which remains precarious.
The country is not yet back to business as usual. Donors
must understand that their role should be to safeguard
the difficult transition from people power to peace.
To India, the U.S., the European Union and
Other Members ofthe International Community:
1.       Coordinate an approach based on explicit shared
principles including:
(a) establishing a Contact Group and
complementary Peace Support Group, with
the role ofthe latter all the more important
now that a peace process is underway;
(b) accepting that Nepal' s people are the drivers
of international engagement and that in
the changed domestic political environment
its parties, civil society groups and other
representatives are in a better position than
before to make their own suggestions;
(c) recognising that peace is the priority
and "do no harm" the golden rule, while
development agencies should continue
to abide by their own Basic Operating
Guidelines in order to keep pressure on the
government and Maoists to do likewise;
(d) holding a possible follow-up to the 2002
London conference on Nepal, perhaps
modelled specifically as a Peace and
Development Forum and requiring inclusive
preparation and participation; the plan of
Nepali civil society activists to start the
process by organising their own conference
in Kathmandu at the end of June deserves
support and serious participation; and
(e) ensuring inclusive and participatory
development, both to address the root causes
ofthe conflict and to ensure that development
agencies' activities no longer reinforce
socially, ethnically or regionally exclusive
models as they sometimes have in the past.
Make stability and peace, not reforms and increased
development, the top order of business, recognising
the need to:
(a) avoid rushing into ill-considered "peace
dividend" packages since poorly planned
injections of cash and other support could
well be counterproductive;
(b) remember that the new government is fragile
and interim, its legitimacy based on popular
support for a peace process, not a full-
fledged government with legislative and
governance capacities;
(c) acknowledge that development assistance
cannot be separated from the political
situation and processes and ensure that
political analysis informs any aid planning;
(d) evaluate government reach and administrative
capacity in the districts, which is at least as
important as change in top-level political
Support the peace process by:
(a) helping monitor the ceasefire, if requested,
and starting practical planning now for a
small mission;
(b) preparing to assist both armed parties with a
gradual demobilisation and demilitarisation
(c) using development and humanitarian
assistance to consolidate peace by delivering
services and opening up space for economic
(d) encouraging international financial
institutions to give the highest priority to
macroeconomic stability and transparency
rather than forcing ambitious reform
proposals on the interim government; and
(e) considering funding a thorough professional
auditing of government, palace and military
expenditure by reputable international
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page iii
Conduct relations with the monarchy in accordance
with the following principles:
(a) political leaders should meet with the king
only if requested to do so by the government;
(b) countries with monarchies should resist any
temptation to reward Gyanendra for his climb
down with continued engagement, which
would only further erode international
community credibility; and
(c) Kathmandu-based diplomats should resist
the temptation to rehabilitate royal cronies
responsible for the worst excesses of royal
Engage carefully with the security sector in
accordance with the following principles:
(a) no resumption of lethal aid, especially now
that the bilateral ceasefire renders it
(b) channel all contacts through the civilian
government, with engagement with the
military predicated on concrete steps being
taken to operationalise democratic control;
(c) pressure to be maintained for full and
transparent investigation of human rights
abuses, including unresolved cases of
forced disappearance, and for adequate
sentencing of those convicted;
(d) assistance to build politicians' and civil
servants' professional management capacities;
(e) support for the voluntary suspension of new
contributions to UN peacekeeping missions
until Royal Nepal Army human rights abuses
are satisfactorily investigated and concrete
steps taken to demonstrate democratic
control; and
(f) support for the civil police, who need to
be strengthened to play a crucial role in
maintaining law and order during the
Respect that transitional justice is a sensitive area
where national ownership and decision-making is
crucial but be prepared to offer the government
the benefit of experiences in other countries and
technical input, as the UN Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights has begun to do
by volunteering to share with legitimate authorities
the findings of its own investigations into abuses.
Avoid competing for involvement in the
constitutional reform process and heavy-handed
assistance that could compromise the essential
principle of a popularly endorsed constitution, but
as requested by the government:
(a) support a people-driven process, assisting
where requested in funding or technically
facilitating public consultations and a wide
national debate; and
(b) prepare to provide more detailed technical
assistance where appropriate.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 10 May 2006
 Crisis Group
Asia Report N°l 15
10 May 2006
The pro-democracy movement of April 2006 transformed
Nepal's political landscape but is only the start of a lengthy
and challenging road to peace.1 The movement was
remarkable for the breadth of popular participation and the
speed with which it gathered momentum - both beyond
the expectations ofthe mainstream parties and the Maoists.
This report offers a preliminary analysis ofthe course of
the movement and outlines the changed positions of the
main political players - including the Nepali people - in
the new situation created by the king's climb down.
The movement was neither fully planned nor fully
spontaneous. It was founded on the loose political alliance
forged by the parties and the Maoists in November 2005
and the hope that their joint peace plan had aroused in a
population increasingly disillusioned with the multiple
failures of royal rule. The protests belonged to the
mainstream Seven-Party Alliance (SPA)2 in name but
owed more to the Maoists in practice. While playing a
quiet - and largely non-violent - role, it was their activists
who were best equipped with plans and an overall political
Nevertheless, despite fears that the protests would invite
chaos, a collapse of state authority and an immediate rebel
takeover, the Maoists were not able to push the movement
to a sudden republican conclusion. This was partly because
Gyanendra ultimately saw sense and surrendered power
at the eleventh hour - something the Maoists were not
alone in doubting he would manage - and partly due to
the inherent conservatism ofthe mainstream parties, who
were happy to accept a deal that at least defened judgement
on the monarchy's future.
But credit for the relatively stable transition to date must
go largely to the demonstrators themselves. Despite
incitement from Maoist activists and provocation from
sometimes trigger-happy security forces, the massive
crowds rarely became violent themselves. There were
no full-scale riots, little destruction of property and,
bar repeated stone-throwing, very few serious assaults
on security personnel or government officials. However,
the popular mood demanded more than the new SPA
government seems willing to give. Keeping the public on
board will be a major challenge, as will ensuring wide
and transparent public participation in discussions about
constitutional reform and plans for a post-conflict Nepal.
For the international community the overriding lesson
ofthe 2006 people's movement is that crude efforts at
political intervention against the current of popular feeling
will fail. Kathmandu-based diplomats - including,
when prey to Delhi politics, the otherwise well-informed
Indians - have demonstrated the limitations of their
political judgement. Still, the role they have to play
now requires not sophisticated political analysis but rather
measured and principled support for Nepal's legitimate
leaders as they seek to implement their popularly endorsed
1 For reporting on the early stages of the pro-democracy
movement, see Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°49, Nepal's Crisis:
Mobilising International Influence, 19 April 2006. All Crisis
Group reporting on Nepal is available at
2 The parliamentary parties which make up the seven-party
alliance are the Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Part of
Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist, UML), Nepal Sadbhavana
Party (Anandi Devi), Nepali Congress (Democratic, NC(D)),
Janamorcha Nepal, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP)
and United Left Front.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°115, 10 May 2006
Page 2
A.    The Foundations
There were two main bases for the movement: popular
discontent prompted by the repeated failures ofthe king's
direct rule and hope that the twelve-point agreement
between the mainstream parties and the Maoists would
bring peace.3 In March 2006 the SPA and the Maoists
reaffirmed commitment to their November 2005 deal.4
This was the immediate impetus for the April movement.
1.       The parties' plans
The parties were all too aware that their earlier efforts at
sparking a mass movement had failed. The proposed mass
rally of 20 January 2006 had been easily blocked by a
tough security clampdown. Their failures could largely be
attributed to a breakdown in communication and planning
with the Maoists. The parties were not strong enough to
organise a genuine mass protest alone and, in the absence
of a coordinated plan, Maoist attacks in the Kathmandu
valley and across the country helped the royal government
justify its crackdown.5
The first question the parties faced was whether to attempt
a traditional strike/shutdown or a mass movement. The
two were partly contradictory: a shutdown would prevent
the parties themselves from mobilising people and thereby
obstruct the chances of building a mass movement. The
parties initially had low expectations for the strike they
ultimately decided upon. Even as it got underway they
were not confident that it would hold solidly for the
originally scheduled four days (6-9 April).6
A further issue was whether to aim for centralised or
decentralised protests. At the start, the Nepali Congress
strongly insisted on a major show ofthe strength in the
capital, originally slated for 8 April. But the UML pushed
instead for decentralised demonstrations around the
country, which was the plan finally chosen.
Party leaders did not want to repeat the mistake of simply
allowing the government to arrest them in advance ofthe
strike and thereby defuse the movement with little effort.
This time key leaders went into hiding in advance and, for
once, successfully communicated their plans to colleagues
so that some arrests and the anticipated shutdown of phone
services were not as disabling as before.
The parties did not move many workers around the
country but were surprisingly successful at mobilising
their supporters in Kathmandu and other areas. Some
were brought into the capital from outside, partly with the
support of affiliated trade unions and youth movements
but these in themselves did not amount to a critical mass.
The major parties had sent officials from the centre to tour
the country in the weeks leading up to the strikes and boost
their local organisations.
2.       The Maoist role
The Maoists' role was critical and consistent with their
evolving political strategy. Following two years of
difficult internal discussions, the October 2005 plenum
approved the policy of eventually joining multi-party
politics.7 At the same time as showing a commitment
towards democracy, the plenum also decided to target
urban centres, using both military measures and political
mobilisation. This new urban focus left them better
prepared to boost the movement in Kathmandu and other
For the Maoists, the October 2005 plenum also marked
the end ofthe first phase within their concept of "strategic
offensive". This first phase, which began in August
2004 and had been devoted to boosting their political
and military weight in the capital, had been largely
unsuccessful. The Maoists were unable to mobilise
in urban areas and their large-scale military assaults,
apart from the attack on a poorly defended army road
construction camp in Kalikot in August 2005,8 had little
The second phase sought to address these weaknesses by
using the loose alliance with the mainstream parties to
increase political leverage and reshape military strategy.9
The Maoists had hoped to make a joint appeal with the
parties for the general strike - negotiators agreed in Delhi
but Girija Prasad, Nepali Congress president and de facto
leader ofthe SPA, refused.10 Still, they knew that throwing
3 See Crisis Group Asia Report N°106, Nepal's New Alliance:
The Mainstream Parties and the Maoists, 28 November 2005.
4 The SPA leaders and Prachanda released the same statement
separately on 19 March 2006.
5 The Maoists attacked police posts at Thankot and Dadhikot,
on the outskirts of Kathmandu, on 14 January 2006, killing
fourteen policemen See Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 11, Nepal-
Electing Chaos, 31 January 2006.
6 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006.
7 Prachanda, press statement, 28 November 2006.
8 The attack was on 7 August 2006. See Prabhakar, press
statement, 8 August 2006.
9 The plenum adopted a new military strategy of "standing on
the spine to strike the head" - the spine referring to highways
and supply routes, the head to urban areas, mainly Kathmandu.
See Crisis Group Report, Electing Chaos, op. cit.
10 In the end they released the same statement separately.
Interview with Girija Prasad Koirala, The Kathmandu Post,
3 April 2006.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°115, 10 May 2006
Page 3
their weight behind the movement would bring them
benefits, even ifthe parties claimed sole ownership.
The Maoists' plans to support the movement were more
concrete than those ofthe parties. They included:
□ Blockades to support the shutdown. On 14
March 2006 the Maoists had already announced
a nationwide program to blockade district
headquarters and major highways.11 However, once
the parties prepared their shutdown the Maoists
announced they would support it and withdraw
their unilateral action.12
□ Military pressure. Since their October 2005
plenum, the Maoists had not only restructured their
military but also had started assembling large
numbers of armed and political cadres in the Gandak
and Lumbini region.13 As part ofthe restmcturing,
they created a Special Central Command for the
Kathmandu region, a party committee that controlled
a military division. Planning revolved around the
possibility of a mass insurrection. Although they
doubted one was immediately likely, they were
prepared to launch large attacks in and around the
Kathmandu valley if the situation demanded.14
Maoist chairman Prachanda heeded the parties'
call not to disrupt their peaceful movement with
violence in the capital15 but they wanted to be
ready to strike if state retaliation prompted serious
disorders which they could exploit.16
Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai, press statement, 18
February 2006.
12 Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai, press statement, 19 March
13 The Palpa attack of 31 January 2006 was part of this process.
See Prabhakar, press statement, 1 February 2006. They also
attacked the central Tarai district of Sarlahi on 5 April 2006.
"Sainik helikaptar dhwasta", Samaya, 13 April 2006.
14 The Maoists had planned a major military assault somewhere
inside the Kathmandu valley during 6-9 April 2006. Some
of their divisions were moved towards Kathmandu from the
western command, under the leadership of Deputy Commander
Prabhakar, who was based in the Gandak region, mainly in
Palpa, for several weeks. Crisis Group interviews, Maoist and
state security sources, April 2006. In the end, there was only one
major Maoist attack during the period of the movement, on a
communications tower in Chautara, Sindhupalchok district, just
north ofthe Kathmandu valley on 23 April. Its political intention
was not clear. "Maoist rebels attack Chautara",,
24 April 2006.
15 Prachanda, press statement, 3 April 2006.
16 Deputy Commander Prabhakar was reportedly unhappy with
the Kathmandu ceasefire. When he withdrew his forces towards
the west, the RNA suspected they might regroup for a major
attack somewhere between Palpa and Rolpa-Rukum. Crisis
Group interview, military intelligence source, April 2006.
□ Political mobilisation. The Maoists deployed
political workers in Kathmandu and all other urban
centres to incite the public, boost demonstrations
and provide political direction to otherwise
unguided masses.17 They sensed that anti-monarchy
sentiment across the country had made the time ripe
for a more overtly republican campaign. Rather
than the abstract slogans of "anti-regression" and
"full democracy" that the mainstream parties had
used, they encouraged the adoption of populist
republican slogans, especially those directed
personally against the king and his unpopular son,
Crown Prince Paras.
□ Creating a rural uprising. Although the general
strike was led, at least nominally, by the mainstream
parties, the Maoists are dominant across the
countryside and their support and active direction
was required to mobilise the rural population. They
encouraged villagers to participate in protests not
only in their own locality but also in district and
regional headquarters. They planned as well to
bring large numbers into the capital but that did not
□ Maintain their public relations offensive. The
Maoists were determined to build on the gains they
had made in recent months by presenting a more
compromising face to the world. Although they
were tempted to break with the parties when refused
a share in the call for a shutdown, this was a
major factor in persuading them to be flexible
and accommodating. They issued press statements
drawing attention to their support for a peaceful
movement and then declared a ceasefire in the
Kathmandu valley - a step that may or may not
have been in their original plans. They also issued
their strongest ever public commitment to respect
human rights,19 while skilfully using both the Nepali
and international media to improve their image.
□ Holding their own mass meetings. The Maoists
used the party-led general strike to continue their
own political mass mobilisation in parallel to the
efforts to support the parties.
B.    The Pressure Mounts
The scale of people-participation as the strike took hold
surprised both the parties and the Maoists. Much as they
had worked to instigate the movement, they were neither
Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006.
18 Crisis Group interviews, Maoist sources, April 2006.
19 "Maobadidvara manavadhikar evam manaviya siddhantaprati
pratibaddhatako ghoshana", Janadesh, 18 April 2006.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°115, 10 May 2006
Page 4
solely responsible for its sudden growth nor fully in control
of it.
1.       Parties in control?
Initially, party cadres and leaders were hardly seen in the
protests and very rarely in the lead. Party flags, a staple of
any organised demonstration, were few and far between.
Most corner meetings, rallies and marches were
spontaneous, managed by local activists or instigated
by Maoist cadres rather than guided by central party
planning20 The participants were oveiwhelmingly ordinary
people, neither hardcore mainstream party or Maoist
supporters. They were largely from those classes that
had supported democratic politics and would probably
still vote for mainstream parties if given the choice.
Activists from the parties' various fronts - student and
youth wings, affiliated trade unions, women's wings and
the like - were involved but did not appear to be working
according to a coordinated strategy.21 When senior leaders
did eventually start joining the protests, they did so as
ordinary participants. There were very few speeches and
traditional comer meetings. It was only after the king's
second announcement that the key leaders even appeared
in public. Nevertheless, party leaders were keen to insist
that the movement remained under their guidance, not that
ofthe Maoists - leading to a very public disagreement
between G.P. Koirala and Maoist spokesman Krishna
Bahadur Mahara on the BBC Nepali service on the
evening of 10 April.22
of the movement, for example by planning to snatch
security forces' weapons during clashes, believing that one
or two such incidents would create a snowball effect.25
On 9 April Prachanda announced a six-point program
to support the ongoing movement: (i) continuing
demonstrations in defiance of any government restriction;
(ii) destroying royal statues around the country;26 (iii)
removal or defacement of official signboards bearing the
title "His Majesty's Government"; (iv) supporting local
declarations of a republic;27 (v) urging people not to pay
taxes; and (vi) controlling the highways by force.28
Maoist activists brought their experience to bear in
organising blockades on valley roads by felling trees and
building other obstacles. Their aim was to provoke a
violent reaction from the security forces and be ready to
exploit any chaos. They also organised comer meetings,
using different names at various locations in central
Kathmandu during the curfew. One was organised at
Maitidevi just in front of army (RNA) troops under
the banner of the "Peaceful Struggle Committee"; at
Ghattekulo a Maoist cadre who spoke disguised himself
as a local leader of NC (Democratic).29
The Maoists were the main provocateurs in Gongabu,
another centre of protests on the Kathmandu ring road. In
Lalitpur, a Maoist cadre, Dinesh Chapagain, was injured
by police gunfire and hospitalised for four days.30
Meanwhile, the Maoists enforced a near-total blockade,
2.       Maoist mobilisers
The Maoist role in intensifying the movement was vital.
By the time Prachanda announced the Kathmandu valley
ceasefire, hundreds of unarmed rebels had already entered
the valley.23 While they publicly supported the SPA
program and even carried mainstream parties' flags and
banners, they were in fact driving the movement from
within. They concentrated on encouraging the use of
republican slogans and inciting the crowds to a more
confrontational mood.24 They hoped to change the nature
Crisis Group interviews and observations, Kathmandu,
April 2006.
21 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006.
22 '"This is our joint programme': Mahara; 'No, it is our own
movement': Koirala",, 11 April 2006.
23 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006.
24 There were few reported instances of deliberate violence
against the security forces. In Gongabu there were unconfirmed
reports of a khukuri and steel rod attack on police officers,
something the police did not believe could be attributed to
mainstream party supporters. Crisis Group interview, police
officer, Kathmandu, 15 April 2006. On 16 April, protestors from
Kirtipur, scene of an impressive peaceful mass meeting on 10
April, brandished sticks at a rally in Balkhu.
25 Crisis Group telephone interview, Maoist source, April 2006.
26 Not many statues were damaged, partly because guarding
them has long been a priority for the security forces. However,
there was a symbolic destruction of a statue of Gyanendra
that was under construction in Nepalgunj on 18 April. See
"One demonstrator dies, 100 injured during demonstrations
on Tuesday",, 19 April 2006. A statue of Kanti
Rajya Laxmi, King Gyanendra's mother, was destroyed at
Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur on 7 April. See "Nation tense,
300 arrested in valley",, 7 April 2006. In Butwal,
a statue of King Mahendra, father of Gyanendra, was destroyed
on 6 April. See "250 held, 2 dozen injured in districts",, 6 April 2006. Following the success of the
movement, demonstrators placed political flags on the statue
of Prithvinarayan Shah at the main entrance to the Singha Durbar
government complex. Following such incidents, RNA soldiers
were deployed to guard statues in place of poorly armed police.
27 This happened first and most prominently in Chitwan but did
not catch on. See "Fleeting 'republic' in Nepal", The Telegraph,
9 April 2006.
28 Press statement, Prachanda, 9 April 2006.
29 Crisis Group observations, Ghattekulo and Maitidevi,
Kathmandu, April 2006.
30 Interview with Lekhnath Neupane, Maoists student front
ANNISU (R) chairman, Jana Aastha, 3 May 2006.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°115, 10 May 2006
Page 5
assisted by the government's own curfews. As supplies
became scarce, the sense grew that the government had
lost control.
By this stage, the Maoists' student wing, the ANNISU
(Revolutionary), had formally announced it was actively
participating in the movement.31 Its president, Lekhnath
Neupane, had started working within the Kathmandu
valley some days after the beginning ofthe strike, as had
the chief of the Maoist teachers' wing, Gunaraj Lohani.32
The Maoists may well be behind various "independent"
republican fronts, such as the Ganatantrik Sanyukta
Morcha (United Republican Front), an eleven-member
organisation coordinated by Ishwar Paudel and involving
Maoist supporters, which was announced at an 18 April
press conference in a Kathmandu hotel.33
As well as participating in SPA-led rallies, the Maoists
became bolder in organising their own open mass
meetings. They held one on 24 April on the main
highway in Pathari Bazar, Morang, close to the RNA's
eastern divisional headquarters at Itahari.34 Maoist First
Division Commissar Dinesh Sharma (aka Sagar),
Chhintang-Sukhani Memorial Brigade Commissar
Sandhya and other leaders addressed the crowd. The
Maoists also sent hundreds, if not thousands, of people
from Rolpa, Rukum and Salyan districts to participate in
the anti-monarchy demonstrations in Ghorahi, Dang.35
3.       Wide participation
Broad popular participation was the defining feature of
the movement. However, various categories of protestors
joined the protests at different stages and with different
Professionals. Many professional associations supported
the movement and mobilised their members. These
included some (such as lawyers and journalists) who had
been protesting for months and others (such as doctors
and teachers) who had been critical in the 1990 democracy
movement but had, until now, been relatively silent. When
cinema stars and popular singers also came out in protest,
it was clear that the movement had gained critical
mass. By the last days, usually apolitical development
professionals and even embassy employees joined
Civil society. Many key civil society leaders had been
imprisoned since well before the start ofthe protests.
Leaders ofthe Citizens' Movement for Democracy and
Peace such as Devendra Raj Panday and Krishna Pahadi, for
example, had been in detention since the 19 January 2006
roundup.37 Nevertheless, their earlier efforts - organising
meetings and rallies across the country in the many months
of relative inactivity by the political parties - were one of
the essential bases for the movement. As the protests
grew, civil society groups continued to play a political role,
partly by issuing statements urging the party leaders to
appreciate the popular mood38 and partly by organising
some demonstrations.39
Media. Domestic press, radio and television coverage was
significant in boosting the movement - something not
there in 1990. Hourly FM radio bulletins kept people well-
informed and did much to undermine the government's
cut-off of mobile phones. Television news not only showed
impressive crowds around the country but also fuelled
popular anger at the government's violent response. For
example, Kantipur TV's juxtaposition ofthe image of a
critically injured protestor at Kalanki with King Gyanendra
welcoming Indian envoy Karan Singh to the splendid
comfort of his palace became a common talking point.40
Human rights workers. Members of national human
rights organisations - such as COCAP and INSEC -
showed bravery in monitoring clashes between protestors
and security forces and acting as on-the-ground observers
to prevent abuses. This also had a political significance:
probably not one of the hundreds of human rights
observers in Kathmandu was on the royal government's
side. Given their commitment to democratic principles,
their presence could never be entirely impartial, but it could
give protestors a further sense of support. Human rights
workers also disseminated information about protests, both
by word of mouth and by reports and photos that were
widely distributed over the internet and electronic media.
The civil service. The movement gained further
momentum when government bureaucrats started to
participate, a previously unthinkable development. The
first were employees of critical government corporations,
such as the Nepal Telecommunications Corporation and
Nepal Electricity Authority, and staff who shut down the
national bank almost completely. Local administration
officers in the districts stopped work; some palace-appointed
regional and zonal administrators, as well as nominated
31 Press statement, ANNISU (Revolutionary), 15 April 2006.
32 Crisis Group interviews, Maoist sources, 20 April 2006.
33 "Ganatantrik vidyarthi ekjut", Jana Ekta, 24 April 2006.
34 "Morangma ganatantrik sabha",,
16 April 2006.
35 BBC Nepali Service news, 22 and 23 April 2006.
36 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, 18-22 April 2006.
See Crisis Group Report, Electing Chaos, op. cit.
38 "Open letter to ambassadors from Duwakot detainees",, 23 April 2006.
39 "Civil society leaders detained inhumanly",,
9 April 2006.
40 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, 21-22 April 2006.
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Page 6
District Development Committee chairmen, fled or went
into hiding. The families of security forces joined very
public demonstrations, as did retired soldiers and police
officers. All this boosted the morale of other demonstrators
and paralysed state machinery. Even senior civil servants
in the home ministry went on strike to protest the state
violence for which they were theoretically responsible.
The business community. The palace had looked to
the business community as one of its few solid pillars of
support but discontent had slowly been growing since the
royal coup.41 Those running small businesses were the
first to join the protests, partly because they had time on
their hands due to the enforced strike. Even taxi drivers,
normally the first to complain about a shutdown which
affects their earnings, were universally supportive. One
by one, district chambers of commerce and industry
declared their support for the movement.42 Tourism
entrepreneurs protested, first individually and then under
the banner oftheir trade associations, and even five-star
hotel workers wore black armbands and held brief strikes.
Private banks and other key industries voluntarily closed.
Private school associations declared they would only
reopen after the return of democracy.
The general public. From the start, it was noteworthy that
people for once did not complain about the shutdown.
Those who simply counted the crowds as an indication of
the movement's strength underestimated its reach. There
were at least four categories of participation: (i) organisers
and instigators (mainstream party, Maoist or independent);
(ii) active participants - those on the streets, chanting
slogans, marching; (iii) indirect participants - onlookers
and hangers-on, those giving water or other help to
demonstrators; and (iv) silent supporters, who may have
stayed at home but supported in other ways; for example,
the large sums raised very quickly, but in multiple small
donations, for injured protestors' medical relief were a
sign ofthe depth of public support.43 Youth and students
were prominent, many not from political backgrounds.
Some critics have suggested that the predominance of
younger people implies an easily excitable mob but it
reflects Nepal's demography - half of the population is
under the age of 25.
4.       The capital encircled
Kathmandu's ring road, not the city centre, became the
fulcrum of the movement for a number of reasons, the
first practical. The earlier small demonstrations within the
central residential neighbourhoods were blocked when
they reached main roads and unable to link up into larger
gatherings. The traditional focal points such as Ratna Park
or Durbar Marg were well guarded by security forces.
The ring road became more clearly defined as a boundary
within which curfews were imposed, making it natural for
protestors to gather around its edges.
As the strike took hold, citizens of the small town of
Kirtipur just outside the ring road grabbed the headlines.
On 10 April they sat on the road to block the RNA's
armoured personnel carriers.44 On the same day Kirtipur
was host to a remarkable mass meeting, as thousands
gathered to listen to speeches by university teachers,
politicians and civil society activists, as well as an
extemporaneous poetry recital by a young student that
captivated the nation when it was replayed on television.
Once well-developed pockets of protest developed in
locations such as Gongabu and Kalanki, it was easier for
organisers to bring them together to create larger crowds.
The first such gathering was on 15 April, when separate
small rallies joined up in the Balkhu area, generating a
crowd in the tens of thousands. The police responded
with tear gas and rubber bullets, injuring dozens including
former NC minister Savitri Bogati. The next day
processions from Kalanki and Kirtipur again met at Balkhu
and tried to enter the city. Police rubber bullets injured
twelve demonstrators.
The increased numbers of protestors and the violent
responses fuelled each other. The first major clash in the
Kathmandu valley was at Gongabu on 11 April, when
police fired live bullets on unarmed demonstrators from
the house of Assistant Inspector-General of Police Rup
Sagar Moktan - the incident that perhaps most fuelled
the movement.45 The killing of three demonstrators at
Kalanki on 20 April, while avoidable, was a logical
extension ofthe trend.
But the ring road's significance was more than just
practical. Kalanki is the main entry point to the city for
41 See Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°41, Nepal: Beyond Royal
Rule, 15 September 2005.
42 This support was emotionally strengthened when security
forces killed Govinda Nath Sharma, a former central member
of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and
Industry, in a protest in Parbat district on 21 April 2006. See
Surya Thapa, "Jasle mrityu swikare", Himal Khabarpatrika, 29
April 2006.
43 Crisis Group observations, Kathmandu, April 2006.
44 Crisis Group interviews, Kirtipur, April 2006.
45 The Kathmandu Post photojournalist Prakash Mathema was
awarded the Shreedhar Acharya National Award for Journalism
for his picture of a pistol being fired from Moktan's house. The
photograph was published immediately on the internet and
appeared in the 12 April 2006 issues of The Kathmandu Post
and Kantipur, illustrating the power of the media in fuelling
public anger. "World Press Freedom Day observed", The
Kathmandu Post, 4 May 2006.
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most travellers from the rest of the country, where the
road from the Kathmandu valley's western pass at Thankot
reaches the capital. Gongabu houses the long-distance bus
park and has long had a mixed population, including many
transient residents staying in cheap hotels and rented
accommodations. These locations symbolised the
dominant role in the movement of outsiders and migrants
rather than settled Kathmanduites.
The surrounding villages contributed many protestors. The
non-urban parts of the valley (known locally as kanth)
retain a class and social character very distinct from
the cities and which was evident in many protests.46
Mobilisation outside the city centre gave the parties an
added benefit: they could show their continued strength in
areas close to the capital but largely beyond the reach of
the urban-focused civil society movements.47
Kathmandu's Newar community did not appear to
participate with anything approaching the intensity
of 1990, when the government's loss of control over their
areas in the city centres was a tipping point. This may have
been partly due to the detention of well-known Newar
leaders (such as Padma Ratna Tuladhar, Mathura Shrestha,
Malla K Sunder and Shyam Shrestha) but more likely
reflected continuing disillusionment with the record ofthe
mainstream parties. There were efforts to mobilise the
Newar community. For example, a Democratic Newar
Struggle Committee formed on 15 April organised a small
rally in Asan the following day, and one representative
body, the Jyapu Mahaguthi, appealed to Newars to stand
up for human rights.48
Despite a significant presence at the large Kirtipur
demonstrations, however, the core Newar areas of
Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur were not pivotal. This
was reinforced by the symbolism of the masses from
outside entering the city, when large crowds finally broke
the curfew cordon on 22 April. It was the threat of mass
encirclement of Kathmandu by multiple demonstrations
around the ring road planned for 25 April that gave the
king his final deadline.
C.    Why the Palace Got It Wrong
international sympathy with mass arrests on 19 January.
According to one report, the home and defence ministries
spent Rs 810 million ($11.3 million) in the six months
before April to prevent parties from mobilising.49 This
was meant to pay for extra informers and security
planning but, with little requirement for accountability,
much was embezzled once it had been distributed.
Home Minister Kamal Thapa led the government's
political counter-offensive. From well before the strike
began, he repeatedly claimed that the Maoists were
using the political parties to foment urban insurrection.50
This argument, while not entirely false, was poorly
calculated in terms of its public reception - few people
believed it and many more were incensed by the way
Thapa used it to pretend that ordinary people were not
against the royal government. Beyond this there was no
political strategy to speak of. When the protests reached
a critical mass, the king was reduced to rehearsing his
old tactics of appointing puppet prime ministers.
Thapa and other palace advisers believed the government
could still control the demonstrations and ride out the
storm by a combination ofthe methods used repeatedly
since the royal coup: arresting leaders, shutting down
communications, imposing a curfew and using well-armed
troops to cow the people. They remained confident that
most Kathmandu residents were still disillusioned with
the mainstream parties and would not respond to the call
to rise in protest.51 This was a reasonable assumption
on the basis ofthe parties' earlier efforts but ignored
the underlying mood and overestimated the tolerance for
Gyanendra's misrule.
The government did realise that a heavy-handed security
response would be counter-productive. It issued strict
instructions to security personnel to avoid lethal force
at all costs, especially in the Kathmandu valley. In
many cases the handling of demonstrations was coolly
professional despite the tensions.
2.       Tactical failures
In total there were eighteen confirmed deaths during the
nineteen-day agitation.52 The first was in the eastern plains
1.       The counter-strategy
Despite its efforts to look unmffled, the royal government
had long been worried that a people's movement might
succeed - this is why it was willing to sacrifice further
Crisis Group interviews, various Kathmandu ring road
locations, April 2006.
47 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006.
48 "Newar community take to streets", The Kathmandu Post,
17 April 2006.
Kedar Subedi, "Andolan dabauna m. 81 karod", Himal, 29
April-14 May 2006.
50 "Atankavadiko sapana ra abhishta sarkarle saphal huna
dine chhaina: grihamantri", Gorkhapatra, 25 March 2006.
51 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006.
52 The demonstrators who were killed are Dashan Lai Yadav,
50 (killed in Rajbiraj); Bhimsen Dahal, 34 (Pokhara); Tulasi
Chhetri (Chitwan); Shiva Hari Kunwar, 22 (Pokhara); Bishnu
Pande, 32 (Nawalparasi); Hiralal Gautam, 25 (Bara); Setu B.K.,
25 (Nepalgunj); Rajan Giri (Jhapa); Suraj Bishwas, 26 (Jhapa);
Dipak Kami, 21 (Kalanki, Kathmandu); Basudev Ghimire
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town of Rajbiraj. UML cadre Dashan Lai Yadav was
seriously injured by police shots on 5 April and died in
hospital. The killing of a Tarai native fuelled the
movement in the surrounding areas. The tourist town of
Pokhara became another hotspot after the army killed 34-
year old Bhimsen Dahal on 8 April. When security forces
opened fire on angry mourners at the funeral in his home
town of Banepa, 30 km from Kathmandu, a 22-year-old
youth was killed. Sentiment was further inflamed
when the army killed demonstrators in the eastern district
of Jhapa on 19 April. This incident provoked angrier
protests in Kathmandu, and on the following day three
protestors were killed at Kalanki, the first deaths in the
capital. By then the public mood had decisively shifted,
and many protestors started carrying portraits of the
"martyrs" rather than party symbols.53
The king's own behaviour alienated many from the start.
He had spent around two months in his lakeside palace at
Pokhara, where he moved on 17 February, reportedly on
his astrologer's advice. When he released his traditional
Nepali new year's message on 14 April - his first public
statement since the general strike started - he made no
mention ofthe protests and gave no hint of concern.
This did him no favours with the public. Such errors
of judgement were only compounded by the security
forces' unapologetic response to the killing of protestors.
They forcefully seized the body of one protestor killed at
Kalanki on 20 April, Deepak Bishwakarma, from a local
hospital to do a post-mortem without consulting doctors
and relatives. The body of Bhimsen Dahal, killed in
Pokhara, was sent to his home district, Kavre, without
informing his wife. There are allegations that the army
has concealed the bodies of two unnamed protestors.54
(Kalanki, Kathmandu); Pradyumna Khadka, 32 (Kalanki,
Kathmandu); Sagun Tamrakar, 18 (Banepa, Kavre); Yadav Lai
Lamichhane, 55 (Bardiya); Govinda Nath Sharma, 53 (Parbat);
Mohammed Jahangir, 23 (Tripureshwar, Kathmandu); Anil
Lama (Chabahil, Kathmandu) and Chandra Bayalkoti
(Tripureshwar, Kathmandu). Five of these died of injuries after
the completion of the movement. Locals also allege that the
RNA has yet to hand over the bodies of two protestors who
were killed by the army in Jhapa on 19 April. The Nepali media
and political parties have declared 21 "martyrs" to date: those
confirmed killed the two suspected additional Jhapa deaths and
UML activist Umesh Thapa, who was killed during a protest in
Dang on 8 February. During the movement, 6,000 protestors
were injured, fifteen lost their eyesight, sixteen received serious
head injuries and 150 in Kathmandu suffered broken arms
and legs. "House passes motion on probe commission",
The Kathmandu Post, 5 May 2006.
53 Crisis Group observation, Kathmandu, April 2006.
54 See Govinda Pariyar, "Swatantrataka lagi utsarga", Samaya,
4 May 2006.
The government had not imagined that so many ordinary
people would be willing to defy curfews. But the lengthy
curfews angered people in a way that the party strike had
not and meant that the government could be blamed for
the shortages of essential commodities and disruption to
daily life. Curfews were initially timed to enable workers,
in particular civil servants, to do a full day's work. However,
their cumulative effect was to hasten the collapse of basic
administration as bureaucrats took their cue from the
general shutdown and increasingly opted to stay at home.
Neither security actions in the cities or the districts limited
Maoist activities. There was no concerted effort to lift the
blockade of major highways (although one or two small
convoys went into Kathmandu). A few Maoist activists
were arrested in the capital but these were only a fraction
ofthe insurgents active in the valley. Their Lalitpur district
secretary Ramesh Regmi (aka Amar), of Jamunapur,
Chitwan, was arrested on 17 April;55 Rajkaji Maharjan
(aka Deepak), of Sunakothi, Lalitpur, and Bhairab Bahadur
Bhandari, of Thansingh, Nuwakot, were picked up at
Gongabu on 18 April.56 However, these arrests did not
fundamentally disrupt Maoist efforts. Even when Maoists
led demonstrations under their noses, the security forces
did not react.
3.       Missing ministers
As the movement gained intensity, the lack of a planned
political strategy became all the more evident and
crippling. Unlike in 1990, there were almost no efforts to
fight back. In 1990 "retaliation committees" were set up
in each district to organise pro-Panchayat events and
target opponents; panchas were required to hold rallies in
support ofthe system, and mandales (pro-palace thugs),
were sent to beat up and intimidate demonstrators.
hi comparison, the government's rearguard action in April
2006 was almost nonexistent. Kamal Thapa, Nicchhya
Shamsher Rana and their supporters tried unsuccessfully
once to organise a pro-government rally.57 Gangs of
Crown Prince Paras's violent supporters - who had been
active in the preceding months - were nowhere to be
seen.58 Some loyalists later complained that no palace-
appointed local official, or those elected under palace
patronage in the February 2006 municipal polls, dared
55 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006.
56 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006. Nepal
Television also showed a Maoist cadre who had been arrested
on 16 April during a seven-party protest program in Pokhara.
57 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 20 April 2006.
58 There were reports of funding and other assistance given
by the government to mandate groups (see, for example, "Free
NTC CDMA sets for vigilantes", The Himalayan Times, 7 May
2006) but this appears to have been ineffective.
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Page 9
show their faces in opposition to the movement.59 They
also blamed the cabinet political committee, composed of
a handful of key ministers, for failing to come up with any
By the king's first proclamation, on 21 April, key
ministers had gone into hiding and were no longer able
to perform basic departmental duties. As the king was
speaking on state television, Home Minister Thapa gave
his police escort the slip and disappeared. Only after an
intensive search was the army able to track him down
and force him to come to RNA headquarters to fulfil basic
administrative responsibilities, such as signing curfew
orders.60 No ministers appeared in public to back the
king's first proclamation.
After a long silence, the ministry of foreign affairs briefed
ambassadors on the afternoon of 24 April. Officiating
Foreign Secretary Hira Bahadur Thapa apologised for the
lack of communication and made a half-hearted effort to
support the king's earlier proclamation, although all those
present realised it had failed.61 Foreign Minister Ramesh
Nath Pandey, who had earlier delighted in making such
presentations, was absent. His last official action before
going into hiding, like that of Education Minister Radha
Krishna Mainali, was reportedly to remove incriminating
files from his office.62
Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, April 2006.
60 Crisis Group interview, home ministry official, Kathmandu,
29 April 2006.
61 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, 24 April 2006. See
"MoFA briefs foreign diplomats on royal proclamation",, 24 April 2006.
62 "Ministers take away 'official documents'", The Kathmandu
Post, 26 April 2006. Pandey denied that Report, Letter, The
Kathmandu Post, 27 April 2006. If Mainali did remove
documents, they could have related to the use of mandate
vigilantes, who have traditionally been recruited and managed
through state sports institutions under the control of his ministry.
A.    The First Cracks
After almost two weeks of growing protests, the palace
realised that simply riding out the storm would not work.
Something had to be offered to the parties but the king
still planned to use his established divide-and-rule tactics.
The aim was to craft a compromise that would tempt the
more cautious, conservative elements in the mainstream
parties and defuse public agitation. Palace emissaries were
dispatched to frantic negotiations with sympathetic royalist
politicians. The big names - Surya Bahadur Thapa,
Pashupati Rana, Lokendra Bahadur Chand and their like
- had refused to back the royal coup but might rally round
ifthe king offered concessions in a last-ditch effort to
salvage a continuing political role for the monarchy.
Former Nepali Congress Prime Minister Krishna Prasad
Bhattarai had long been the palace's ideal choice for the
next puppet prime minister. He was summoned to meet the
king and made encouraging comments to the press: that
he was a royalist at heart and sure democracy would soon
be returned. But stem advice from his party colleagues
and others persuaded him to resist the royal gambit.63
In the meantime, a concerned international community
was stepping up pressure on the king to offer a sensible
deal to the parties. When New Delhi decided to send Karan
Singh, a senior Congress politician and son ofthe last
Maharaja of Kashmir, as a special envoy to reason with
Gyanendra, other major powers held back in the hope that
this would succeed. Singh arrived in Kathmandu on 19
April, met senior party leaders (UML General Secretary
Madhav Nepal was released from detention shortly after
he landed), and then had a lengthy private conversation
with the king the following day. After expressing hope for
a quick resolution, Singh cancelled the remainder of his
scheduled visit and returned immediately to New Delhi.64
Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee continued
discussion with the king on 21 April, and SPA leaders
privately agreed that they would accept the offer of a
restored parliament. However, the king made no such
explicit offer, although palace advisers may have believed
that restoration of parliament was implicitly accepted in
Gyanendra's promise to abide by the advice ofthe new
prime minister.65
John Cherian, "King-size crisis", Frontline, 22 April 2006.
64 "King sends Karan packing", The Telegraph, 21 April 2006.
65 The king had consulted Attorney-General Laxmi Bahadur
Nirala before his announcement. Nirala may have advised that
a new SPA government with executive power could simply
demand that the king restore parliament. "Govt under Article
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The circumstances of the king's first proclamation had
already suggested to the parties that the offer was not in
good faith. Most political prisoners, including the many
non-violent civil society leaders and human rights defenders
who had been imprisoned without trial, remained in
detention. Two senior UML leaders, Jhalanath Khanal
and Bamdev Gautam, were arrested at the airport on their
return from New Delhi, just hours before the proclamation.
Until the last minute, the efforts to persuade Bhattarai to
accept the post of prime minister continued; only his
refusal forced grudging acceptance that an invitation to
the seven-party alliance was the only remaining option.
Once this became clear, there was discussion inside the
palace about the announcement of a constitutional
assembly, but with pre-conditions.66
Despite the extremely tense situation - tens of thousands
of angry protestors were defying the curfew on the streets
of Kathmandu and had breached security cordons - the
king did not consult the parties before his announcement
or even give them advance warning. This cast doubt on
whether he genuinely wished a smooth handover. Had
he been sincere, a stable transition would have required
negotiating the deal, ensuring the parties were ready to
respond and making an immediate announcement ofthe
handover to the agreed new government.
When the king finally appeared on national television in
the evening of 21 April, he offered to return executive
power, "which was in our safekeeping", to the people. He
proposed to do this by inviting the SPA to nominate a
candidate of its choice for prime minister. This met with
an immediate angry response on the streets and deep
scepticism from political leaders.
The international community, which had been pressuring
the king both privately and publicly to compromise and
restore democracy,67 rushed to endorse the royal proposal
without waiting to hear the response of Nepal's people and
their representatives. India's foreign ministry promptly
welcomed Gyanendra's "intentions to transfer all executive
powers ofthe state to a government constituted by the
alliance ofthe seven political parties".68 The U.S. urged the
parties to respond quickly by choosing a prime minister
and a cabinet.69 China welcomed the king's move in
similar terms.70 British Foreign Office Minister Kim
Howells welcomed the announcement, calling on the
parties "to work constructively together to establish this
government".71 UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued
a more circumspect statement, hoping that the king's move
"will result in the speedy restoration of democratic order,
an end to the conflict and the establishment of lasting
peace through an inclusive process of dialogue" but not
specifically welcoming it.72 Such subtleties were, not
surprisingly, lost on the crowds and given little attention
by the Nepali media.73
B.     Parties Reject the Offer
However, the offer was flatly rejected by the people at
large and the seven-party alliance. Despite their patchy
record in government and opposition, the parties judged
the country's mood well and made a principled and
practical stand. Their refusal ofthe king's offer earned
them renewed popular trust and put them in a position to
guide the next round of protests responsibly.
The king's proclamation had been carefully crafted to
showcase cosmetic compromises. While the international
media duly reported that he had offered to back down and
return power to the people, the proclamation made few
concessions and was framed provocatively. The parties
turned it down on the following grounds:
□ The king explicitly rejected the parties' roadmap
for peace, which is based on a freely-elected
constituent assembly that would write a new
constitution. This is at the core ofthe parties'
November 2005 agreement with the Maoists and
is a fundamental condition for the insurgents to
disarm and enter mainstream politics. It is the
only realistic plan to deal with the Maoists: there
is no military solution - the military's counter-
insurgency efforts have only strengthened the
□ The king offered only a return to the status quo
ante of January 2005, in other words, guaranteeing
35 can make political decision: AG Nirala",,
24 April 2006.
66 This option was, however, discarded. Crisis Group interview,
palace source, Kathmandu, April 2006.
67 Earlier in the day, U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty had
called in reporters to say that the king's "time is running out...
Ultimately the king will have to leave if he doesn't compromise.
And by 'ultimately' I mean sooner rather than later",
68 "Statement on Nepal", Ministry of External Affairs,
New Delhi, 21 April 2006.
"King Gyanendra's April 21 Speech", statement by Sean
McCormack, spokesman, Department of State, 22 April 2006.
70 Gopal Sharma, "Part victory, part protest on Nepal streets",
71 "Howells welcomes king of Nepal's commitment to hand
power to political parties", statement of British Foreign Office
Minister Kim Howells, 21 April 2006.
72 "Secretary-General receives proclamation by Nepal's
king returning executive power to people", United Nations
Secretariat, 21 April 2006.
73 For example, see "UN, US, EU and Canada welcome royal
proclamation",, 22 April 2006.
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a new prime minister only as much job security as
the three previous incumbents since he first took
power in October 2002, each of whom he appointed
and dismissed at will. This is a point made by
former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who
notes that he was appointed in June 2004 on this
basis only to be dismissed and imprisoned by the
king in February 2005.
Despite the misleading "unofficial" English
translation circulated by the palace, the king made
no reference to the people being the "source of
sovereign authority". In fact he referred only to
"state power remaining with the people", though the
1990 constitution expressly affirmed the people's
The king made no mention of restoring the House
of Representatives. Without this it was not clear if
the cabinet would have legislative authority, and
there was no guarantee that ordinances and other
measures introduced by the king since February
2005 could be reversed. Restoration of parliament
has been a long-standing party demand: the king's
silence was significant as routes to restoration,
even if agreed by a new cabinet, all pass directly or
indirectly through the palace via its influence over
The king did not speak of control ofthe RNA.
Even under the 1990 democratic constitution, the
army remained under de facto royal control, and it
has been his primary source of power, essential not
only for carrying out the February 2005 coup but
increasingly involved in administering the country.
A government not in control ofthe army would
inherently lack authority and be susceptible to
being undermined by the palace.
The king made no offer, explicit or implicit, to
refrain from using Article 127 ofthe constitution,
which has been central to his exercise of authority
and unilateral arrogation of sweeping powers. He
has interpreted this article as granting unlimited
licence to legislate by decree in the absence of a
The king's reaffirmation of his "unflinching
commitment to constitutional monarchy and
multiparty democracy" rang hollow in view of his
actions to dismantle democracy by unconstitutional
Retention of the current council of ministers - many of
whom are widely reviled and were indicted for their part
in suppressing the 1990 democracy movement - did
nothing to return stability. Blaming the political parties
for not accepting his call to "enter into a dialogue in the
interests of the nation" did not help build trust. The
proclamation as a whole was couched in self-justifying
terms and reaffirmed the primacy ofthe king's plans,
as outlined in his February 2005 takeover speech and
The proclamation was also poorly calculated to gain
popular acceptance. The opening insistence that the
people supported his coup and subsequent actions was
contentious. People did not expect an explicit apology but
were hoping for at least a hint of regret. The reference to
the dutifulness, valour and discipline ofthe security forces
in "upholding their glorious traditions" left a bitter taste in
the mouths of those who had been deeply distressed by
the killing of a dozen peaceful protestors and injury of
hundreds more in the preceding days.
The diplomatic community's concerted efforts to pressure
the parties to accept the king's offer were, in the kindest
possible interpretation, founded on a serious misreading of
the national mood and the choices open to the mainstream
political leadership. India, China, the U.S. and UK made
a deliberate push to support a compromise between the
parties and the monarchy. Some other countries supported
this line but several key donors, such as Japan, Switzerland
and Norway, opted for a judicious silence until they had
judged the domestic reaction.
The European Union issued a statement that had been
agreed by its Kathmandu heads of mission on the morning
of 21 April.75 The statement itself made no mention ofthe
king's offer but Austria's foreign ministry, responding to
enquiries from journalists, welcomed the king's move on
behalf of the EU Presidency without consulting other
member states - an ill-judged move that several diplomats
believe underlines the need for better EU coordination
through the appointment of a special representative.76
Nevertheless, EU envoys in Kathmandu fell in line with
the British position and went jointly to press the parties
to accept the king's offer on 22 April. UN endorsement
ofthe king's offer, as noted above, had been more nuanced
This simple tactic was enough to confuse the U.S., leading
the State Department to report, "We are pleased that King
Gyanendra's message today made clear that sovereignty resides
with the people". "King Gyanendra's April 21 Speech",
statement by Sean McCormack, spokesman, U.S. Department
of State, 22 April 2006.
"EU Presidency Statement on the current situation in Nepal",
d=152&Itemid=30,21 April 2006.
76 Crisis Group interviews with EU diplomats, Kathmandu,
April-May 2006. On the longstanding proposal for an EU
special representative, see Crisis Group Briefing, Beyond Royal
Rule, op. cit.
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Page 12
but there were still anti-UN placards at demonstrations,
and staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR) reported criticism from ordinary
These efforts were doomed to failure. The parties' reading
of the king's proclamation left them no room for
compromise - unless at the cost of sacrificing public
credibility and the chance to control the mass movement.
Once the demonstrations ofthe following day had shown
this decisively - Kathmandu saw the largest crowds and
the broadest public participation since the start ofthe
movement - it was the diplomatic community that had
sacrificed credibility. Party and civil society activists, many
of whom had looked to the outside world for support
following the royal coup, felt betrayed.
"There is no reason for us any more, if there ever was,
to feel that our international friends and partners are
wiser and smarter than us just because they have money
to distribute", wrote civil society leader Devendra Raj
Panday. "The concerned donors and
their lack of knowledge and sensitivity about this country,
its history and its people and their aspirations so thoroughly
that they have little right to expect us to listen to their
misplaced messages that will no doubt come our way again
and again".78 Political commentator C.K. Lai warned
that the "disconnect between domestic politics and
international pressure is starker than it has ever been".79
"I and many others were staggered that our representatives
in Kathmandu actually believed that compromise with the
king was still possible", wrote Michael Hutt, one ofthe
most respected academic experts on Nepal. "Does our
government, not to mention the U.S. and the EU, properly
understand the internal political dynamics ofthe countries
to which it donates aid?"80 One Western ambassador
offered a belligerent response to such criticism, stating
that "it is Michael Hutt who does not understand
Nepal" and accusing him of "believing implicitly in the
newspapers and unfounded interpretations of what we
said from leftist xenophobes".81
Why did the diplomatic community get it so wrong?
Limited research and reporting. Few diplomats made
on-the-ground assessments of the scale, mood and
intention ofthe demonstrations in Kathmandu. On the
Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, 22 April 2006.
78 Devendra Raj Panday, "Democracy, donors & diplomats",
The Kathmandu Post, 1 May 2006.
79 C.K. Lai, "A royal delusion", Nepali Times, 23 April 2006.
80 Michael Hutt, "A People's Peace", Guardian Unlimited, 4
May 2006, available at
81 Email communication, 5 May 2006.
evening ofthe king's 21 April proclamation, the instant
reaction of the crowds - enraged cries of "betrayal" and
"deception" - should have been enough to indicate the
likely popular rejection ofthe king's offer. Embassies did
not go out oftheir way to keep a close eye on the situation,
and in some cases key personnel were absent. Security
concerns led the U.S. to concentrate on evacuating its nonessential staff and stay away from the demonstrations.
Inadequate analysis. Diplomats had a clear idea oftheir
own preferences but had difficulty putting themselves in
the place ofthe party leaders and appreciating the pressures
and calculations they faced. Once the direction of the
country started to depend on the sentiment of the people
at large rather than the manoeuvres of a small political
elite, the diplomatic community's isolation from ordinary
Nepalis became a critical weakness.
Excessive Kathmandu focus. Concentration on events in
the capital distracted from the significance ofthe mass
popular uprisings across the country. There is some logic
in this - Kathmandu has long been the crucial fulcrum for
any major political change. But the mood ofthe country
as a whole drove the people's movement, and diplomats
either had little access to independent accounts or, in the
case of major donors, failed to utilise their countrywide
connections through development activities to full effect.82
Until 2005, the International Committee ofthe Red Cross
was the only agency to base foreign staff full-time outside
Kathmandu (apart from some missionary organisations and
volunteer development workers). Subsequently, OHCHR
has added to the international presence on the ground:
were it not for its work, there would have been almost no
independent reporting of developments outside Kathmandu.
Law-and-order perspective. Too many diplomats had
long assessed the possibilities of a successful popular
movement in terms of a tactical skirmish: ifthe army stop
them from entering the centre of Kathmandu, how can
demonstrations threaten the king? How could protestors
storm the palace? Such an approach led to the
miscalculation that sensible management of the protests
would defuse a situation that essentially was a law and
order, rather than a political issue. "Look at how few
people there are out on the streets today", commented a
Western diplomat monitoring the protests on Sunday,
23 April. "The security forces have learned from their
mistakes and won back control ofthe streets. The heart
has gone out of the movement - the king will probably
feel emboldened to withdraw his offer".83
Apart from its extensive development program, the United
Kingdom can also draw on its longstanding network of retired
Gurkha soldiers - a resource that was perhaps undervalued
in policy discussions. Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu,
May 2006.
83 Crisis Group interview, Chabahil, 23 April 2006.
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Page 13
Stability over principles. Despite having had more than
a year to rehearse the argument that returning to the status
quo ante of January 2005 would never work, diplomats
were happy to seize the chance of a compromise that
offered precisely that. "I know this is only a return to
January 2005 at best", said a Western diplomat, "but what
more could the king have offered? The parties simply have
to accept this".84 Such a calculation was based partly on
the longstanding desire to protect the monarchy at all costs
and partly on exaggerated fears that continued protests
would invite mob violence, uncontrolled rioting and an
immediate Maoist takeover. This calculation was crucially
inverted: the dangerous scenarios would all have been far
more likely had the parties accepted the king's offer and
lost all credibility with the crowds. In choosing apparent
stability at the expense ofthe basic democratic principles
that their public statements had long supported, diplomats
fell into the same trap that led to the king's power-grabs
of October 2002 and February 2005 - and had invited
greater instability.
Overconfidence. Key diplomats wrongly assumed they
understood Nepal and its politics better than Nepal's own
politicians or people. As late as the morning of Monday,
24 April, when palace insiders and the RNA knew that
a major new concession was the only remaining
option, a senior Western envoy was still warning that the
demonstrations could "fizzle out" and leave a "triumphant
king". The parties' demand that the king cede sovereignty
showed they were still in the "old mind-set"; had they
accepted his offer the king could not have blocked their
agenda, "at least in the first few weeks". Civil society
leaders who had also urged rejection ofthe king's gambit
had failed "to grasp the significance ofthe people's
movement and the way revolutions work ... [they] risk
being swept away by the revolutionaries".85
D.    The First Act Ends
Saturday, 22 April was the day on which the people's
movement secured victory, at least in the short term. Far
from pouring oil on troubled water, the king's proclamation
had, in the Nepali phrase, added ghee to the fire. People
poured onto the streets in greater numbers than ever,
determined both to send a message to the palace by
defying the curfew and to let the party leaders know
compromise was not an option.
Kirtipur, the small and independent-spirited town outside
the capital that had earlier hosted one of the most
impressive peaceful mass meetings, was deserted. "No
one's here. We're all heading to Kathmandu", said young
84 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, 22 April 2006.
85 Email communication, 24 April 2006.
men walking toward the ring road. "We want a republic -
everyone's supporting that now".86 Crowds breached the
security cordon around Kathmandu's twin city, Patan, and
picked up numbers as they moved downhill towards the
bridge into the capital. "We're marching on the palace",
shouted exuberant protestors above the din of anti-king
The security forces had other plans. Accepting that they
could not secure the entire city despite the curfew orders,
they channelled demonstrators onto a circular route that
allowed them to skirt the central areas before ending up
back on the ring road. In some places army and police
officers were relaxed. "Nowhere is quiet today; there are
lots of people out everywhere. So we're letting them cross
the bridge - you can carry on, too, it's peaceful", said an
RNA officer.88 But the inner security ring was to be held
at any cost. Next to the national stadium, sandals littered
the ground where a crowd had been fired on and fled.89
Truckloads of well-equipped soldiers stood ready, proudly
confirming that they belonged to the Rangers Battalion,
the RNA's most effective counter-insurgency troops,
armed and trained by the U.S.90
At one point on the route taken by the largest procession,
a Western military expert estimated the crowd that had
passed him numbered some 200,000 to 300,000.91 In the
meantime the SPA had also decided formally to reject the
king's offer, politely refusing to follow the advice of EU
envoys who had attended their meeting at Girija Prasad
Koirala's residence to argue for compromise. By the time
a torrential rainfall dispersed many protesters in the middle
ofthe afternoon, the battle had been won.
The palace had pursued a disastrous course since the royal
coup, progressively alienating large sectors of society
until even its core supporters joined the pro-democracy
movement. But its political nerve-endings were not entirely
deadened. Palace insiders realised the decisive rejection
by the parties and people ofthe king's proclamation left
them with little option but to give in to the movement's
substantive demands, at least on paper. Sunday was
devoted to frantic negotiations within the palace and, via
both public and secret intermediaries, with party leaders.
Ambassadors were again summoned to the palace, and
this time their advice to back down gracefully before it
was too late was heeded. Given the hostile domestic
Crisis Group interview, Kirtipur, 22 April 2006.
87 Crisis Group interview, Kupondol, 22 April 2006.
88 Crisis Group interview, Kupondol, 23 April 2006.
89 Although there were no deaths on 22 April itself, two ofthe
protestors injured in this clash later died while undergoing
90 Crisis Group interview, Tripureshwar, 23 April 2006.
91 Crisis Group interview, New Baneshwor, 23 April 2006.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 14
reaction to their intervention following the king's first
proclamation, ambassadors may have felt a renewed
sense of urgency in impressing on the king the seriousness
of his situation.
The king was forced to make a second proclamation,
the text agreed in advance with the SPA leadership.
In a humiliating retreat, he used the language of his
opponents, recognising the "spirit ofthe ongoing people's
movement". This proclamation was substantively different
to the half-hearted first offer:
□ it recognised that sovereignty is inherent in the
□ it called for resolving the conflict and other problems
facing the country "according to the road map of
the agitating seven-party alliance", implicitly
accepting the parties' twelve-point agreement with
the Maoists and policy of electing a constituent
□ it announced restoration of parliament, a
longstanding party (though not Maoist) demand;
□ the king offered "heartfelt condolences to all those
who have lost their lives in the people's movement"
and wished the injured speedy recovery.
Initial reaction on the streets and from the parties was
positive. This time the diplomatic statements welcoming
the announcement were in tune with most public opinion
and that ofthe mainstream parties. But the new situation
carries its own risks and challenges.
A.    The Alliance Victorious
1.       Consensus or divisions?
SPA leaders promptly welcomed the endorsement oftheir
roadmap in the king's second proclamation.92 However,
their policy response had not been fully prepared. The
king's new offer raised issues that could lead to splits - not
least over the restored parliament's agenda, composition of
the cabinet and handling of both longer-term constitutional
change and the more immediate demands for transitional
justice. The SPA met on the morning after the king's
proclamation at the residence of Girija Prasad Koirala.
The party leaders unanimously resolved:
□ to make elections to a constituent assembly the
main agenda ofthe reinstated parliament;
□ to remain committed to the twelve-point
agreement and urge the Maoists also to abide by it;
□ to include the Maoists in an interim government
once elections for the constituent assembly were
confirmed and a disarmament process had started;
□ to constitute a high-level commission to investigate
state abuses against pro-democracy protestors; and
□ to declare null and void all "unconstitutional
decisions" taken by the royal government.93
Nevertheless policy differences soon began to appear. A
coalition partner, the UML, argued for a quick transition
to a republic. Its central committee on 29 April called for
the names ofthe government and the RNA to be changed,
respectively, to "Nepal Government" and "Nepalese
Army", removing references to "his Majesty" and "Royal".
It also called for the army to be made responsible to
parliament, not the king, and for dismissal ofthe royal
council.94 The SPA, however, has not yet taken a collective
decision for election to a constituent assembly without
conditions and for republicanism. The leader ofthe Nepali
Congress, an important member ofthe alliance, favours a
ceremonial monarchy.95
92 "Leaders voice welcome", The Kathmandu Post, 25 April
93 "General strike called off; rallies across the country;
constituent assembly to be the main agenda",,
25 April 2006.
94 "Oli to lead CPN UML in the new government",, 28 April 2006.
95 Interview with Girija Prasad Koirala,, 3 April
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 15
Formation of a cabinet should have been a relatively
simple process but it was delayed both by Koirala's
illness and by bickering over the allocation of ministerial
portfolios. When seven appointments were announced on
2 May, the Nepali Congress had reserved major posts for
itself. More radical party leaders and activists were
concerned that key positions were given to perceived
royalists, K.P. Oli ofthe UML (deputy prime minister)
and Ram Sharan Mahat of the Nepali Congress (finance
minister).96 Of Oli, senior Maoist ideologue Baburam
Bhattarai warned that "to imagine that he will implement
the line of constituent assembly and democratic republic
honestly and effectively is the same as believing that you
can milk an ox".97 No defence minister was appointed,
although the UML had been pushing for the portfolio. A
UML standing committee member, Pradip Nepal, resigned
in protest at the lack of consultation with the party. The
NWPP refused to participate; Janamorcha made critical
remarks but on 7 May announced that it would join the
2.       A Constitutional parliament?
It is not clear ifthe new government is functioning under
the 1990 constitution. The people's movement had forced
an essentially political, rather than constitutional, retreat
by the king. His announcement ofthe restoration of
parliament did not invoke any constitutional clause but was
implicitly legitimated by political necessity. However, the
House of Representatives is a constitutionally defined
body, and the actions of the government so far have
added to confusion over the constitutional state of play.
Prime Minister Koirala took his oath of office from the
king at the Narayanhiti royal palace in the presence ofthe
key backers ofthe former royal government: the chief of
army staff, chief justice, crown prince and chairman of
the Rajparishad (royal council).98 In this, he went against
UML general secretary Madhav Nepal's public warning
not to take the oath from the king.99 The palace, apparently
acting on party advice, had initially announced Koirala's
appointment under Article 36(1) ofthe 1990 constitution.100
However, the UML argued that this clause was only
relevant for a majority government, not a consensus
government. In the formal letter sent to parliament to
confirm the appointment, it was described simply as "in
accordance with the constitution".101
However, Koirala did not join the Rajparishad (prime
ministers after 1990 were ex officio members but took
a separate oath), and he himself administered the oath
of office to new ministers. Previously this would also
have been done by the king at the palace.
The government now faces a difficult dilemma: to endorse
even a single clause ofthe existing constitution might be
seen as binding it to the document in its entirety but to
proceed in constitutional limbo could undermine its own
legitimacy and make basic administrative and legislative
tasks difficult. "At the heart ofthe current confusion is
whether or not the new government should follow the
constitution of 1990 and the mundane rituals prescribed
by it. The short answer is, it should not", warned a strong
editorial in the Kathmandu Post. "There is no point
following faithfully any article of a constitution that has
itself been pronounced dead by the [people's movement].
Accepting one article would mean accepting the whole
3.       Dealing with the Maoists, the king and the
Prime Minister Koirala and other SPA leaders have
repeated their call to the Maoists to continue dialogue and
work together within the framework ofthe twelve-point
agreement. But concrete goodwill gestures did not
materialise as quickly as many expected. There was no
immediate reciprocation ofthe Maoists' unilateral three-
month ceasefire nor any response to the Maoists' immediate
demands, such as releasing prisoners.103 In the meantime,
as outlined below, the Maoists moved quickly to take
advantage ofthe government's lack of agreed policy.
The full cabinet line-up is: Prime Minister: GP Koirala (NC);
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister: Khadga Prasad
Oli (UML); Home: Krishna Prasad Sitaula (NC); Physical
Planning and Works: Gopal Man Shrestha (NC-D); Finance: Dr
Ram Sharan Mahat (NC); Agriculture and Cooperatives:
Mahantha Thakur (NC); Land Reforms and Management:
Prabhu Narayan Choudhari (United Left Front, ULF).
97 Baburam Bhattarai, "Samvidhansabhako sahavaranko
khatara", Janadesh, 2 May 2006.
98 "Koirala sworn in by King Gyanendra", The Kathmandu
Post, 30 April 2006.
99 "Leaders vow not to repeat past mistakes; say constituent
assembly will be the first agenda of HoR",,
27 April 2006.
Article 36(1) reads: "His Majesty shall appoint the leader
of the party which commands a majority in the House of
Representatives as the Prime Minister, and shall constitute the
Council of Ministers under his chairmanship". Constitution of
Kingdom of Nepal, 1990, unofficial translation available at
ioi «pjyr appointment", Rastriya Samachar Samiti (national
news agency),
102 "Warning bell", The Kathmandu Post, 29 April 2006.
103 The government was reportedly willing to release prominent
activists one by one but the Maoists demanded that all their
prisoners should be released simultaneously. Crisis Group
interviews, Kathmandu, May 2006.
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The mixed messages sent by Koirala's oath-swearing at
the palace did little to clarify the new government's stance
towards the king. Finance Minister Mahat promised to
review the palace budget but if the parties appear to
compromise with the monarch, they would risk rapidly
undermining their new popular approval.
Without a defence minister giving a clear sense of political
direction, it is uncertain whether the government is
exercising any real control over the army. The RNA has
continued some offensive actions against the Maoists (for
example, helicopter assaults on two mass meetings in
Tanahu and Nawalparasi on 27 and 29 April respectively),
apparently in contradiction to the government's agenda
for peaceful negotiations. Bringing the army under
civilian control will require both firm political will and a
determination to build bridges to the RNA leadership.
There is little sign that the government is prepared for
The new government has an unprecedented opportunity
to use the wave of public support and international
approval to establish its authority and implement the
policies that the democracy movement demanded but
early signs are that it is not fully prepared to exploit its
advantages. It could quickly squander public confidence
and find itself embattled on many fronts.
1.       The initial response
The Maoists denounced the king's 21 April offer
(Prachanda declared that his party scornfully rejected this
"conspiratorial proclamation of feudal elements"104) and
also termed his 24 April speech "a conspiracy against the
people". The second proclamation did not go far enough
to address their demands for a constituent assembly and
possible republic. The Maoists accused the parties of
committing a "historic mistake" by unilaterally accepting
reinstatement of parliament,105 which they viewed as
violating the spirit of the twelve-point agreement; they
were also annoyed that the parties sought to claim full
credit for the mass movement and discount the Maoists'
crucial contribution.106
The Maoists themselves had made two miscalculations:
□ They deferred resolution of their outstanding
argument with the SPA over the roadmap to a
constituent assembly. The twelve-point agreement
had accepted a difference of opinion over whether
to move forward via a re-established parliament
(the SPA preference) or via an all-party roundtable
conference and interim government (the Maoist
preference). The Maoists hoped they could force
the issue in their favour as events unfolded and
proceed straight to an interim government. Instead,
the restoration of parliament still leaves them as
insurgents outside the legitimate government.
□ They misjudged the king's behaviour. They had
assumed he would never back down and accept
restoration of parliament. They calculated that,
backed by the RNA, he would make an ill-judged
attempt to finish the movement by brute force.
This could have created a true meltdown of state
authority and splits, or at least a collapse of morale,
within the security forces107 - conditions which
could then be exploited for a successful urban
insurrection. The king's climb down caught them
off guard.
Restoration ofthe parliament not only blocked their hopes
for an immediate republican uprising but also enabled the
SPA to claim a greater share of the victory. The parties
became the primary beneficiaries ofthe new situation and
felt emboldened to downplay the Maoist contribution.
The Maoists also misjudged their policy response. They
vowed to continue the peaceful movement and maintain a
blockade of district headquarters and the capital until the
declaration of an unconditional constituent assembly.108
This was partly a bargaining stance - lifting the blockades
would be an easy goodwill gesture to offer in early
negotiations - but partly a genuine effort to keep people
on the streets to pressure the new government. This did
not work well. Many people were far from delighted with
the initial SPA response but were not willing to keep
up the street protests. They had suffered enough from
nineteen days of blockades, strikes and curfews and were
unimpressed by the Maoists' insistence on prolonging
similar hardships.
When the SPA leaders, including Koirala, requested them
to withdraw these measures, they were quick to do so.
They lifted the blockades (while threatening to re-impose
them if parliament did not announce an unconditional
constituent assembly) and went a significant step further,
seeking to regain the moral high ground by announcing a
three-month unilateral ceasefire.109
Prachanda, press statement, 22 April 2006.
105 Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai, press statement, 25
April 2006.
106 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 25 April.
Prachanda, "Vartaman jansangharshabare kehi kura",
Janadesh, 2 May 2006.
108 Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai, press statement, 25 April
109 Prachanda, press statements, 26 April 2006.
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2.       They will probably play ball...
Despite their acceptance of the government offer to
negotiate, there is no guarantee the Maoists will not walk
away from the twelve-point agreement. Even if they stick
with it, they will push hard for every possible advantage,
and negotiations will be tough. But self-interest argues
strongly for adhering to the basic framework ofthe deal
with the parties. It offers the chance of limited victory
and potential future gains, while all other options are
unattractive. Each harshly worded recent press release has
reaffirmed their commitment to this route. Maoist interests
in pursuing talks along the lines already agreed with the
SPA include:
Protecting their political strengths. Assuming the
parties press on with the constituent assembly, the Maoists
cannot afford to surrender ownership of this central
demand. The same goes for social and economic reforms:
the more radical the parties manage to be, the less political
space the Maoists will be left with, and all the less likely
they could achieve their remaining goals. However much
they have used violence to boost their movement, the
Maoists still rely on the latent appeal of their populist
agenda. If they lose this to the mainstream parties, they
will be seriously weakened.
Avoiding return to full-fledged war. A continued
military campaign is possible but unappealing. The
Maoists retain the capacity to fight on, and some cadres
may prefer to stick with what they know best. But while
the state cannot impose a military solution, it can make
life much more uncomfortable for the Maoists than ever
before. Rejection of a peace process would invite large-
scale foreign assistance for a renewed counter-insurgency
campaign - which, for once, might be led by a legitimate
government with a decent strategy. New Delhi would be
much less accommodating, especially given India's
heightened fears about its own Maoists.
Working towards international recognition. The
Maoists have gained significantly in international
acceptability over the past year. They now interact
regularly with foreign officials on human rights and
development issues and have access to key powers to
pursue political discussions. If they reject the democratic
path, they stand to lose this. Political acceptability in India
has been hard-won, and many Maoist efforts have been
designed to safeguard a possible transition to multiparty
politics. If this is to happen, the support of important
players such as the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
will be crucial. It is unlikely to be forthcoming ifthe
Maoists betray the trust that Indian politicians have placed
in them.
Building trust with the people. The Maoists are well
aware ofthe positive popular reaction to their openness to
a negotiated peace. Their stated promises to end the war
and protect basic rights have won them respect they would
be loath to sacrifice quickly. With one eye firmly fixed on
the likely constituent assembly polls, the Maoists are
preparing for elections. They have a good chance to win a
far larger share ofthe vote than past opinion surveys have
suggested but they know they need to broaden their
support base.
3.       .. .But push hard and keep other options open
The Maoists' hope that the movement could produce a
republic was founded on their long-standing analysis that
the monarchy could only be overthrown by a final, violent
insurrection. This did not happen. "The biggest losers are
the Maoists", claimed U.S. ambassador James Moriarty.
"On Saturday [22 April], they were close to...getting rid
ofthe monarchy entirely by a violent revolution".110 The
Maoists had indeed hoped that revolution was close.
Prachanda believes that "if the movement had been
allowed to continue for only a few more days, it was
almost certain that the situation of Nepal's king and royal
family would have been no different from Romania's
However, the Maoists are not the biggest losers. While
they would have been delighted if a sudden insurrection
had handed them power on a plate, they had planned
pragmatically for other outcomes. They remain well
organised and highly capable of adapting flexibly to take
advantage of a changing political landscape. This has
consistently been one of their strong points and is not
likely to change. Despite some miscalculations, they have
a good track record of reading Kathmandu's politics and
exploiting splits and weaknesses to the full.
The Maoists' initial analysis is that the mass movement
confirmed the success oftheir own people's war strategy,
which they are convinced was its main foundation. They
believe the movement was fuelled by rural mobilisation
and that its most important participants were poor peasants,
ethnic minorities, dalits and women.112 They recognise
that it did not reach fulfilment but see it as having built a
more advanced base from which a further uprising may
be possible. The movement cannot be compared to 1990
in either scale or nature: the 1990 movement was much
narrower, centred on the Kathmandu valley and driven by
the urban middle classes.113
"Nepal was very close to a violent revolution: Moriarty",, 27 April 2006.
111 Prachanda, "Vartaman jansangharshabare kehi kura", op. cit.
112 On dalit participation, see "2 Dalits declared Martyrs in
Peoples' Movement 2006", Jagaran Media Center E-bulletin
no. 15,1 May 2006.
113 Prachanda, "Vartaman jansangharshabare kehi kura", op. cit.
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Page 18
The Maoists' current priority is to strengthen their
negotiating position in advance of further talks and their
public standing in advance of possible constituent assembly
elections. Tactical objectives include:
□ pressuring the government to proceed with an
unconditional constituent assembly;
□ increasing their political leverage and presence
among the general public;
□ using goodwill gestures such as their unilateral
ceasefire to earn popular credit;
□ building broader alliances with groups, including
other leftist parties, which share many oftheir
political objectives; and
□ maintaining relations with the international
community, even if only at the level of basic
They moved quickly to occupy newly available political
space. Without waiting for restrictions to be lifted officially,
their activists started addressing public meetings, even in
the heart of Kathmandu as well as in the districts,114 and
they immediately resumed publishing and selling their
newspaper, Janadesh, openly.115 They began holding
large meetings across the country, many addressed by
senior leaders. They do not yet feel secure enough for
Prachanda to appear in public, although they hope this
will soon be possible.116 Meanwhile they are seeking to
exploit the lingering discontent with mainstream political
leaders by inciting those still willing to protest and, it
appears, intimidating party politicians.117
Maoist student leader Lekhnath Neupane and trade union
leader Shalikram Jamarkattel addressed a large meeting in
Kathmandu's central Khula Manch traditional host to party
gatherings, on 28 April. See "Rebels press for constituent
assembly elections", Himalayan Times, 29 April 2006. Large
Maoist meetings were also held after the second royal
proclamation in Jpyuthan, Biratnagar, Dhangadhi, Dhankuta and
beyond. "Loktantrik ganatantraka lagi deshvyapi amsabha",
Janadesh, 30 April 2006.
115 The 2 May 2006 Janadesh was the first to be openly sold
in Kathmandu since shortly after the collapse of the 2003
116 Crisis Group interview, 2 May 2006.
117 For example, the UML general secretary, Madhav Nepal,
and central committee member, Pradip Gyawali, were attacked
by angry mobs - Nepal outside his own house on the evening
of 28 April and Gyawali when leaving parliament on 2 May.
The Maoists deny this was the work of their cadres; Baburam
Bhattarai personally called Nepal to insist on this. "Lawmakers
face miscreants' wrath", Himalayan Times, 30 April 2006. On 2
May a small but angry crowd broke the lock of the main gate
and tried to storm the Singha Durbar government complex,
which includes the parliament building. Suspected Maoists
In some cases, they are using front organisations for this
round of mass mobilisation. These include the Loktantrik
Sanyukta Morcha (Democratic United Front), under the
leadership of Ram Man Shrestha, a former CPN(ML)
member ofthe upper house,118 and Rastriya Jana Manch
(National People's Front), a new group led by Bhakta
Bahadur Shrestha, an above-ground Maoist supporter
who, as the general secretary ofthe then CPN (Mashal),
was once Prachanda's boss.119
All these actions also support their current strategy. They
will continue to prepare for a possible mass uprising
if popular discontent grows, and other conditions are
favourable. Maoist leaders privately warn this is the last
chance for negotiations. If it fails they and their cadres
will lose patience with talks.120 However, entering the
mainstream in acceptable circumstances remains their
safest option. They are aware that even a successful
republican insiurection would not bring them a sustainable
victory. But they will not enter multiparty politics if this is
seen as surrender.
C.    The Palace: Down but Not Out
The wording ofthe king's 24 April 2006 proclamation
implied unconditional surrender. He was forced to use the
language ofthe people's movement and invite the SPA to
implement its roadmap, thereby surrendering his own
plans. But the palace will not accept defeat so easily. The
preparation for the proclamation suggests a tactical retreat
rather than surrender. The king and the powerful networks
around him will use whatever influence they have to fight
a rearguard action in defence ofthe monarchy. They will
probably have many opportunities to play the games at
which they excel, such as preying on party weaknesses to
resume attempts at divide and rule.
The palace can still exercise leverage and patronage quietly
through powerful networks. Foremost is the RNA, which
was the mainstay of the royal government and whose
commanders remain loyal to the crown. However, the
palace's reach extends throughout Nepal's polity - from
the judiciary and civil service to sympathisers in the
mainstream parties and even, surprising as it may seem,
the Maoists. Unless its powers are severely curtailed, the
palace secretariat will remain at the centre of this web.
detained and threatened a photojournalist reporting on their
mass meeting in Kathmandu on 28 April. "Maoists grill photo
journalist Shrestha in the capital",, 1 May 2006.
118 The CPN(ML) was the product ofthe UML's 1998 split.
The two factions reunited in 2002.
119 See above on the formation of similar fronts during the
120 Crisis Group interviews, April-May 2006.
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Until the 24 April proclamation, observers who sought to
gauge the possible behaviour ofthe royal government
concentrated on the king as an individual. Factors centred
on his pride, determination, fear of losing face and so
on. But now those who depend upon the palace - army,
feudal elites, relatives and clan members, and business
interests - will rally round to protect their collective
interests. They may form a stronger and more capable
political force than the king has been as an individual.
In this effort the palace will be supported, directly or
indirectly, bythe royalist political parties.121
By the time of his second proclamation, a constituent
assembly had become the best option for the king. If he
had let the protests continue, the monarchy's fate would
have been decided in the heat ofthe moment by the angry
crowds on the street. A constituent assembly may also go
against the monarchy but at the very earliest it will be
months before it is created and operating. In that period
tempers will cool, and ifthe king plays his cards carefully,
he may be able to repair some ofthe damage done to his
image. Already at Koirala's oath-swearing ceremony, a
news report referred to the "royal grace and humility"
with which the king led the frail prime minister to a sofa.122
The wide support for a non-political, constitutional
monarchy opinion polls have consistently reported could
be regained - especially if mainstream leaders allow their
own image to become tainted. However, the poor public
image of Crown Prince Paras - who was in headlines days
after the king's capitulation for another hit-and-run road
accident - may continue to undermine efforts at royal
The Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), led by Pashupati
Shamsher Rana, and the Rastriya Janashakti Party, led by
Surya Bahadur Thapa, refused to support the royal coup and
voted with the other parties to proceed with a constituent
assembly. Nevertheless, they will not contemplate a republic
and will be valuable, if not uncritical, allies of the palace over
the coming months. It remains to be seen whether the RPP
faction led by royal Home Minister Kamal Thapa - whose
split was engineered and funded by the palace - will have any
significance following the collapse of royal rule and Thapa's
ignominious disappearance from public view.
122 cpjyr Kojjgia administered oath of office",,
30 April 2006. The king also visited the house of the deceased
Nara Shamsher (a close palace confidant) in Lalitpur to pay his
respects on 30 April 2006. He made this low-profile visit in an
unmarked private car, even stopping at traffic lights, "Kalo
gadima raja sarara", Jana Aastha, 3 May 2006. However, one
week later he made a more defiantly open visit to a temple, with
public roads shut for hours to secure his convoy. "King offers
sacrifices at Dakshinkali temple", The Kathmandu Post, 7 May
123 Kedar Ojha, "Crown prince's vehicle clips wedding party
bus", The Kathmandu Post, 30 April 2006.
Most ofthe world has gone cold on the monarchy for the
moment but some friends will still be loyal. At their head
will be India's royal families (including those in prominent
political positions) and the Hindu right. Major powers like
China and the U.S. may have been frustrated with the king's
recent behaviour but will rally round to protect at least
a ceremonial role for the monarchy, if only out of fear
for possible instability if Nepal were to abandon its oldest
institution. As with the Nepali public, the king can appeal
internationally to a continuing fear ofthe Maoists and -
despite his evident failure to counter them - the persistent
idea that a monarchy is a safeguard against communist
The first thing the international community needs to do is
to learn from its mistakes and make sure it does not repeat
them. That course of action - one that donors and diplomats
have never hesitated to urge on Nepal's politicians - would
not only support Nepal's democratic transition but also
benefit its international partners. The success ofthe pro-
democracy movement has bought them space to regain
credibility and Nepal's political leaders have carefully left
them room to recalibrate their policies.
The likely negative repercussions ofthe strong support for
the king's first offer were immediately apparent to Indian
diplomats in Kathmandu. "We risk throwing away in one
day all the goodwill that we'd built up by sticking with the
Nepali people since February 1 [2005]", a senior diplomat
commented. "If this goes badly wrong, it could take us
a whole generation to recover trust".124 This realisation
caused confusion in New Delhi. Even as Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, backed up in a separate statement by
National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan, told the press
that India supported the king's offer,125 Foreign Secretary
Shyam Saran was executing a rapid change of course.
At a lengthy late-night press conference, he clarified in
response to questions from the Indian press:
I think you should be careful not to take India's
statement yesterday as an acceptance of this or
rejection of that proposal. As I said, what we tried
to put across in the statement yesterday was that the
principle that power should be handed over by the
monarchy to the people of Nepal, that particular
principle the King in his statement, in his
proclamation, appears to have conceded. How that
is to be taken forward.. .is really for the people of
Nepal to decide.... I do not think that it is the people
Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 21 April 2006.
125  "Manmohan  Singh backs  Nepal  King  Gyanendra's
move", Daily News Analysis, 22 April 2006.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 20
of Nepal who have rejected or responded negatively
to what India has said. I think there have been certain
sections or certain elements who have deliberately
distorted the implication of what India has said. We
have been and continue to be firmly on the side
of democratic forces in Nepal. There should be no
ambiguity about that.126
The U.S. significantly revised its long-established stance
on constitutional change. American diplomats had never
accepted that fundamental change, beyond revisions within
the framework ofthe 1990 constitution, might become both
necessary and widely acceptable politically. In January
2006, Ambassador James Moriarty insisted that: "There is
no need to consider a constituent assembly", emphasising
instead that an intensified military campaign was the only
way to deal with the Maoists.127 Following the king's climb
down, however, the U.S. promptly recognised the new
political environment, stating that a constituent assembly
"could prove an excellent avenue for the Maoists to join
the political mainstream and peacefully help address
Nepal's problems".128
Nevertheless, serious differences of approach remain.
British Ambassador Keith Bloomfield has complained of
"the repeated misrepresentation in the democratic press of
EU views in relation to the King's declarations of 21
and 24 April". He insisted that: "The EU position has
consistently favoured the full restoration of democracy in
Nepal.... There are, of course, different routes to achieve
the same goal".129 However, this brushed over a
fundamental disagreement. The EU had consistently
favoured reconciliation between the "constitutional forces"
of palace and parties, although it pointedly revised this to
"all political forces", implicitly including the Maoists, in
later press statements.130
The U.S. position was a step beyond this, insisting that the
king was not only a constitutional force but a "legitimate
political actor".131 The parties had persuasively rejected
this stance months earlier and realised - correctly - that
only the palace's concession of defeat would open the
route to a popularly acceptable new administration. The
U.S. position had shifted so drastically by the time ofthe
"Press Briefing by Foreign Secretary Shri Shyam Saran on
Nepal", Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, 22 April 2006.
127 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 12 January 2006.
128 "U.S. Anticipates Working with New Government", U.S.
embassy press release, 27 April 2006, http://nepal.usembassy.
129 Letter to Nepali Times, 28 April 2006.
130 For example, "Statement by the European Union Presidency
on recent events in Nepal", issued in Kathmandu by the local
Finnish embassy on 11 April 2006.
131 U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty, speech to the Ganesh
Man Singh Academy, 15 February 2006.
king's statement reinstating Parliament on 24 April,
however, that the State Department issued a statement
hours later: "We believe that he should now hand power
over to the parties and assume a ceremonial role in his
country's governance".132
The king's second offer was warmly welcomed by Nepal's
influential aid community, with many key donors planning
to boost assistance. However, there are few signs of a
coordinated approach. India, which has the greatest capacity
to offer immediate fiscal relief by deferring debts and
also has interests in longer term infrastructure and social
development, moved quickly to stake its claim to a leading
role. According to one report, it "has decided to unilaterally
give fiscal support to Kathmandu rather than be part of
an international consortium".133 Norway's minister for
international development, Erik Solheim, flew into
Kathmandu just days after the king's retreat, offering to
increase aid and push for talks with the Maoists.134 Citing
Norway's Sri Lankan experience, he offered its support
to resolve the conflict ifthe government and the seven
parties requested.135 He did, however, suggest that India
should maintain its leading role and clarified that Norway
was not seeking to mediate talks.136 Other donors have
also started talking of resuming and expanding aid
programs,137 and Nepali officials are beginning to make
requests for funding.138 However, the volatile political
situation could be further compromised by over-hasty
injections of aid.
In response to questions, U.S. officials indicated that even a
ceremonial role would depend upon the people's decision. Press
conference by Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for
South and Central Asian Affairs, Kathmandu, 3 May 2006,
available at http://www.state.gOv/p/sca/rls/rm/2006/65751.htm.
133 "King gone, India opens purse strings for new Nepal
Govt", Indian Express, 30 April 2006.
134 "Solheim continues parleys in Nepal",, 4
May 2006.
135 "CA elections after forming interim govt including Maoists:
PM Koirala",, 4 May 2006. Solheim is also the
chief mediator in the Sri Lankan peace process.
136 "Norway rules out Nepal peace role", BBC News, 5 May
137 "Donors eager to extend full scale support to Nepal",, 29 April 2006. India is reportedly planning a
"mega economic package" for Nepal. Bhaskar Roy, "Himalayan
Marshall plan to bail out Nepal?", Times of India, 27 April 2006.
Japan has released almost $4 million for social and economic
development projects to be run by central government ministries.
"Japan approves the utilisation ofthe counterpart fund of KR2",, 5 May 2006.
138 Finance ministry joint secretary Rameshore Prasad Khanal,
representing Nepal at the 39th annual meeting of the Asian
Development Bank in Hyderabad, told Reuters that Nepal was
appealing for some $1.2 billion foreign aid for post-conflict
reconstruction. "Nepal seeks $1.2 bin for reconstruction",
Reuters, 6 May 2006.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 21
A.    Weak Government, Willing Donors
Unless and until the peace process with the Maoists
delivers concrete results, Nepal's central government will
still have only the most limited capacity to administer most
ofthe countryside. However rapid the political progress in
Kathmandu, the task of rebuilding state authority and
effective governance across the districts will be lengthy -
years rather than months. For this reason alone, development
assistance cannot be viewed in isolation from the political
situation and the complex transitional processes that may
eventually deliver a stable, legitimate government with
legislative and administrative capacity.
The international community can use effective support for
a peace process to regain credibility but trust cannot simply
be bought, and it is premature to consider injecting large
amounts of aid as a peace dividend. Despite the desire of
development professionals to return to business as usual,
Nepal is far from ready to resume large-scale development.
The primary effort should be to consolidate the peace
process and work, under the guidance of the new
government, to rebuild confidence in the state and gradually
restore its capacity to govern effectively. There is a serious
risk that unilateral aid efforts will be contradictory and
counter-productive. A Peace Support Group that brings
all major donors together to reach agreement on principles
and coordinate programs is the most logical means of
minimising such risks.
This is not yet the time for structural reform. That can only
come as part ofthe broader constitutional revision process
following a full national debate. The focus now should be
on sustaining and, where possible, enhancing basic services.
Any extra resources would best be devoted not to starting
fresh programs but to boosting existing ones that meet basic
criteria for consolidating the peace process and are in
accordance with the Basic Operating Guidelines (BOGs).139
For longer term assistance, Nepal needs a coordinated
international approach based on explicit shared principles.
Crisis Group has suggested eight as a starting point.140 A
Major bilateral donors adopted a set of Basic Operating
Guidelines (BOGs) in late 2003 to emphasise the importance and
responsibility of all parties to the conflict to maintain development
space and provide access to beneficiaries. The BOGs rely
strongly on internationally recognised humanitarian law
principles and reflect the specific conflict situation in Nepal. The
UN and national and international NGOs have adopted similar
guidelines. See
nepal /bogs/bogs.htm.
140 The suggested principles are: (i) a negotiated peace process,
involving wide participation of civil society representatives,
Peace Support Group is all the more important now that a
peace process is underway.141 The changed domestic
political environment makes it easier for the parties, civil
society groups and other representatives to make their own
suggestions on principles. Ensuring that Nepal's people
are the drivers of international engagement is critical.
Key considerations are to:
□ make peace the priority and stick to the basic "do
no harm" rule, while ensuring that development
agencies abide by their own BOGs, including
transparency and anti-corruption mechanisms, and
thereby keeping pressure on the government and
Maoists to do likewise;
□ consider a follow-up to the 2002 London
conference, perhaps modelled specifically as a
Peace and Development Forum; inclusive
preparation and participation would be crucial.
Nepali civil society activists are planning to start the
process by organising their own, nationally owned,
conference in Kathmandu at the end of June, which
deserves support and serious participation; and
□ ensure inclusive and participatory development, both
to address the root causes ofthe conflict and to ensure
that development agencies' activities no longer
reinforce socially, ethnically or regionally exclusive
models as they sometimes have in the past.
Stability and peace must take priority over stmctural reforms
and increased development. It is important to avoid rushing
into ill-considered "peace dividend" packages since poorly
planned injections of cash and other support could well be
counterproductive. The new government is a fragile interim
administration, whose legitimacy is based on popular
support for a peace process, not a full-fledged government
with legislative and governance capacities. Donors will
need to recognise that development assistance cannot be
separated from the political situation and processes,
so political analysis should inform any aid planning.
Finally, donors should carefully evaluate the reach
and administrative capacity of government in the districts,
including women, notjust the armed parties and political elites;
(ii) Maoist rejection of violence and acceptance of complete
disarmament as part of a negotiated settlement; (iii) full respect
by all parties for fundamental human rights; (iv) establishment
of constitutional democracy, with sovereignty vested in the
people; (v) an environment of complete political freedom
enabling viable elections that reflect the popular will; (vi) full
civilian control of security forces; (vii) establishment of a more
inclusive political system that addresses the underlying causes
of conflict and underdevelopment; and (viii) an equitable
development and economic agenda that benefits the entire
country, particularly traditionally marginalised groups. Crisis
Group Report, Nepal's Crisis, op. cit.
141 See ibid.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 22
which will be at least as important as the change in the
top-level political environment.
B.    Peace Process
The Challenges
The most immediate challenge is to make the ceasefire work
- a much tougher task than it may appear. Managing a
viable process means keeping the Maoists on board,
maintaining unity within the SPA and ensuring continued
popular legitimacy and buy-in. In this, as in the
constitutional revisions to come, the government will have
to work hard to emphasise transparent popular sovereignty
and participation. The starting points for the peace process,
as well as the framework for its continuation, were defined
by the party-Maoist negotiations in 2005.142 On 4 May
2006 the restored parliament formally endorsed the SPA
roadmap based on that twelve-point understanding.143
The initial efforts must build confidence and good faith on
both sides. The Maoists started the process by announcing
a unilateral ceasefire.144 After a slight delay, the government
reciprocated with an indefinite ceasefire, the lifting of
Interpol red notices against Maoist leaders145 and removal
ofthe "terrorist" tag applied to the insurgents.146 This will
allow the Maoists a degree of freedom of movement and
peaceful assembly - something they had already started
testing. Prachanda quickly welcomed the government's
offer and confirmed that the Maoists were willing to enter
negotiations on the basis ofthe twelve-point agreement.147
Demonstrable democratic control ofthe RNA will be
essential to reassure the Maoists. The ceasefire will also
need to be monitored credibly, primarily by the parties
themselves, with national mechanisms, but most probably
also with an international component.148 A draft code of
conduct prepared by the Maoists has been discussed by
the cabinet but the government has yet to produce its own
plans.149 The Maoists must contribute to the confidence-
See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's New Alliance, op. cit.
143 "House passes motion on probe commission", The
Kathmandu Post, 5 May 2006.
144 Prachanda, press statement, 26 April 2006.
145 Interpol red notices are issued on requests from national
police forces in order "to seek the arrest or provisional arrest of
wanted persons with a view to extradition". See http://www.fnter Some two dozen Maoist
activists have had such notices issued against them on the request
ofthe Nepal Police.
146 "Govt announces indefinite truce", The Rising Nepal, 4 May
147 Prachanda, press statement, 4 May 2006.
148 See Crisis Group Briefing, Mobilising International
Influence, op. cit.
149 "Cabinet meet to take up Maoist code", The Himalayan
building process, initially by releasing civilian captives,
respecting political pluralism in practice and ending
harassment ofthe families of security forces. They should
also recognise that the countrywide mobilisation of their
cadres - even if largely unarmed and in civilian dress -
prompts understandable fears among the state security
forces.150 There have been allegations of continued rights
violations by Maoists, such as abductions and even
The Maoists have demonstrated in the past that they have
reasonable discipline and can enforce a ceasefire. There
will be little tolerance of violations, and the government
will expect its positive gestures to be reciprocated.
Fortunately, the negotiations leading to the twelve-point
agreement have shown that both sides are capable of
orchestrating a bilateral process. The Maoists' initial
criticism ofthe parties' acceptance ofthe king's offer
was followed by the rapid lifting of blockades and
announcement of a ceasefire, indicating that while they
may use harsh language, they can also offer pragmatic
A peace process will be long and difficult. Each step
will bring risks but, if managed well, could help build
confidence. The major task before elections to a constituent
assembly are possible is to work with the Maoists to deliver
a convincing plan for demobilisation and disarmament. It
is not realistic to expect this to happen precipitously or
in a single step. The Maoists may well play for tactical
advantages during the process - as, no doubt, will their
political rivals - but they will also require concrete
The International Role
The international community should help with ceasefire
monitoring if requested and should start practical planning
now for a small mission, as Crisis Group has outlined,152
so it is prepared to assist both armed parties with a
gradual demobilisation and demilitarisation process. Its
development and humanitarian assistance should aim to
consolidate peace by emphasising delivery of services
and the opening of space for economic development,
Times, 6 May 2006.
150 Following the deployment of armed and uniformed Maoist
fighters on major highways and at mass meetings, including in
district headquarters, the government requested the Maoist
leadership to cease such provocative behaviour. The Maoists
say they have issued appropriate orders to their cadres and have
promised to take action in case of violations. Crisis Group
interviews, home ministry official, Kathmandu, May 2006.
151 "Maoists kill two civilians in Bara",, 5
May 2006.
152 See Crisis Group Briefing, Mobilising International
Influence, op. cit.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 23
while international financial institutions should give
the highest priority to macroeconomic stability rather
than forcing ambitious reform proposals on an interim
government. Donors should consider funding a thorough
professional audit of government, palace and military
expenditure by reputable international accountants.
The Challenges
The parties' most immediate task is to roll back palace
encroachments made not only since the February 2005
royal coup but since Gyanendra started his power-grab in
October 2002. On 3 May the government declared the
February 2006 municipal elections invalid and granted
one million rupees ($14,000) compensation to the families
of each person killed during the movement.153 Four days
later the cabinet revoked all political appointments made
since the king's 4 October 2002 seizure of power, including
regional and zonal administrators, and recalled the twelve
ambassadors who were appointed during royal rule.154
The government will move to more difficult territory once
it starts to review judicial and civil service appointments and
transfers made since the royal coup. The palace successfully
manoeuvred committed supporters into many key positions.
Here, too, some may opt for a graceful exit: for example, the
attorney-general and the senior officials of the National
Planning Commission, National Women's Commission
and Social Welfare Council promptly tendered their
resignations in order to avoid an acrimonious reshuffle.
Most members ofthe National Human Rights Commission
(NHRC) have reportedly agreed to resign en masse but
one commissioner is refusing to go.155 The NHRC has been
placed on a watchlist by the International Association of
Independent National Human Rights Organisations because
of its perceived lack of independence. The Supreme Court
had invited the king to participate in the concluding session
of its three-day golden jubilee celebrations on 23 May but
he has withdrawn.156
"Govt announces ceasefire; removes red comer notice,
terrorist tag on Maoists",, 3 May 2006.
154 They are: Kama Dhoj Adhikary (from India), Narendra Raj
Pandey (China), Prabal Shumsher Rana (UK), Kedar Bhakta
Shrestha (U.S.), Hiranya Lai Shrestha (Russia), Prajwolla
Shamsher Rana (France), Tara Bahadur Thapa (Thailand), Victory
Rana (Myanmar), Rameshananda Vaidya (Japan), Abulesh
Thakurai (Saudi Arabia), Pushkar Man Singh Rajbhandari
(Pakistan) and Shyamananda Suman (Qatar). See "Govt, recalls
ambassadors to 12 countries; scraps all appointments made after
Oct 4,2002",, 7 May 2006.
155 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 7 May 2006. See also
"Most NHRC members mull quitting posts", The Himalayan
Times, 7 May 2006.
156 "King not to attend SC fest",, 4 May 2006.
There have been calls from within the parties to cancel all
royal ordinances, including withdrawing the much criticised
Terrorist and Destructive Activities (Control and
Punishment) Ordinance (TADO).157 The government will
find it hard to resist such calls although it may opt to allow
some ordinances to lapse by default.158 The instant repeal
of TADO, however, may be more complex: it would
require release of Maoist detainees, something the
government may wish to reserve as a political matter to
be addressed in negotiations.
The government may choose to set up an independent
commission to review the royal government's expenditures,
especially in the light of well researched recent press
exposes suggesting that at least hundreds of millions of
dollars were diverted from the state budget to the palace.159
Several other areas have been the focus of critical attention,
not least military procurement (in particular the suspect
purchase of helicopters from Kazakhstan160) and the
spending on controversial foreign trips by the king and other
members ofthe royal family. The palace budget itself was
massively increased in 2002; Finance Minister Mahat's
review may conclude that it should at least be reduced to
pre-2002 levels if not further.161
Finally, the government will have to tackle the two main
institutional bases of royal power: the Rajparishad (Royal
Council) and the palace secretariat. The Rajparishad,
composed largely of elderly royalists such as retired
generals and former Panchayat politicians, stepped beyond
its limited constitutional role to campaign for absolute royal
rule and threaten democrats.162 Prime Minister Koirala
has refused to join it (as prime ministers normally would;
see above), and it will probably be abolished, although the
government may leave this until the wider constitutional
reform process starts.
The palace secretariat, however, must be neutralised
immediately ifthe parties do not want to be risk being
A further, but more complicated step, will be to review pre-
democratic legislation that remained on the statute books after
1990, for example the Army Act (1959) which governs the RNA,
and the Public Security Act (1989), which allows for detention
without trial.
158 The 1990 constitution stipulates that ordinances lapse if not
approved by parliament within six months. Now that parliament
has been restored, the conventions ofthe 1990 constitution may
be assumed to apply in these cases.
159 Kedar Subedi, "Ru pachas arba yatauta", Himal
Khabapatrika, 28 February 2006.
160 Prem Khanal, "Govt buying 4 choppers with bank loans",, 21 August 2005.
161 "Palace expenditures will be downsised: Finance Minister",, 2 May 2006.
162 See "Rajparishad ready for confrontation: Report",, 5 January 2006 and Crisis Group Report,
Electing Chaos, op.cit.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 24
destabilised by a powerful competing power centre. Many
of its key officials, including the chief secretary, Pashupati
Bhakta Maharjan, are overdue for retirement and may be
persuaded to move on; others could be accommodated
elsewhere in the civil service or offered redundancy
packages. A restructured palace secretariat should be
staffed by regular civil servants - under the cunent system
the staff is hired directly by the palace - and managed by
a mainstream ministry with direct ministerial oversight.
The government will need to ensure that the clearing of
important ministry files through the palace secretariat - a
practice that continued even after the 1990 advent of
democracy - is promptly halted. It is particularly important
that the palace's military secretariat, the focal point of
RNA control currently headed by Major-General Gajendra
Limbu, be dismantled. UML General Secretary Madhav
Nepal has already publicly demanded this.163
The International Role
Foreign political leaders should have no more meetings
with the king unless requested by the government. U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher made the
right start by abandoning his plans to see the king during
his 2-3 May visit and emphasising publicly that
Gyanendra has no future political role.164
Countries with monarchies may still be tempted to reward
Gyanendra for his climb down with continued engagement
and even invitations. Any such efforts would further erode
intemational community credibility. Likewise, Kathmandu-
based diplomats should resist the temptation to rehabilitate
royal cronies responsible for the worst excesses of royal
rule. Kamal Thapa, the ex-home minister who has been
disowned by his own former party and who coordinated
the brutal attempted suppression ofthe people's movement,
was still invited to the Queen's Birthday Party at the
British embassy on 5 May. He and other royalists such as
Kirtinidhi Bista and Bharat Keshar Singh also attended
the Israeli embassy's 3 May reception.
The international community should recognise that the
future ofthe monarchy is in the hands ofthe Nepali people.
There is enough work to be done to support democracy and
no need to force the retention of a ceremonial monarchy.
If people want it, they will vote for it; there are plenty of
politicians who will be happy to argue the case for a
continued royal role.
"Nepal asks govt to  remove  'royal'  from RNA",, 6 May 2006.
164 Press conference by Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of
State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Kathmandu, 3 May
2006, available at http://www.state.gOv/p/sca/rls/rm/2006/
The Challenges
Even as the king capitulated, the RNA launched a
sophisticated public relations campaign. Chief of Army
Staff Pyar Jung Thapa, looking relaxed in civilian dress,
recorded a rare interview with CNN for release immediately
after the king's 24 April proclamation in which he
emphasised that the RNA was willing to work under any
legitimate government and take orders from the defence
minister and prime minister.165 The army also put its side
ofthe story to prominent journalists:
The Royal Nepal Army's perception that the crisis
in the country was fast escalating out of control
played a decisive role in convincing King Gyanendra
to step back from the brink.... According to a number
of sources who spoke to The Hindu on condition
that they not be identified in any way and that certain
details be left out, it was the Army chief, General
Pyar Jung Thapa, who took the initiative to push
the palace to settle on the SPA's terms....Finally,
General Thapa sent a clear and unambiguous
message to the SPA leadership: ifyou form the
government, the RNA will be firmly behind you.166
Accounts such as these may or may not reflect the murky
reality ofthe complex final negotiations that led to the king's
retreat. Senior RNA commanders are still loyal to the king,
as is the army institutionally. This will not change overnight,
especially ifthe SPA government's actions fail to inspire
confidence. Nevertheless, the RNA's stated commitment
to the democratic process deserves to be tested. The
government will have to be tough and implement some
measures that may upset senior officers but it can also assist
the army's transformation into a genuine national force
with enhanced domestic and intemational prestige.
The new government will need to separate the king from
the army. There can be no more private meetings between
the monarch and the Chief of Army Staff. The king himself
may have realised that the time for public appearances in
uniform has passed, and any future visits to army units
will depend on government permission.
Prime Mnister Koirala is handling the defence portfolio
himself. However, appointing a capable, heavyweight
defence minister - even if only as a sign of intent - would
send a strong signal that the government was taking charge.
The defence ministry, largely a shadow institution, urgently
needs talented civil servants who are seen as neither
royalists nor party partisans. Although the serious work of
165 CNN World Television, 24 April 2006.
166 Siddharth Varadarajan, "Nepal Army chief helped convince
Gyanendra", The Hindu, 27 April 2006.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 25
security sector reform cannot be rushed, effective civil
servants can start preparing by familiarising themselves
with the issues and planning how to build a viable ministry.
A priority for the government will be putting the RNA
under the same judicial auspices as every other arm of
government. This means bringing military courts under
supreme court jurisdiction. The government is likely to
freeze all RNA expansion and procurement plans, as well
as refuse outside offers of lethal military aid. The bilateral
ceasefire will make it essential to dissolve the Unified
Command and make the civil police a more effective
force capable of maintaining law and order independent
of army control. The creeping militarisation of local
administration should be promptly halted.
The government may consider voluntarily halting new
deployments to UN peacekeeping missions until a full,
transparent investigation into army human rights abuses
has been completed and the court case over the diversion
of soldiers' wages into the unaudited Army Welfare Fund
is satisfactorily resolved.167 At the same time, it could assure
the UN that subject to these basic conditions and progress
in the peace process, the RNA might increase future troop
contributions. If peace takes hold, an RNA that might
otherwise have trouble keeping its soldiers occupied
could rebuild its intemational image for peacekeeping if it
demonstrates democratic credentials.
General Thapa took a significant step by stating that Maoist
fighters could be incorporated into the RNA on the basis
oftheir capability and qualifications.168 Speaking at a
mass meeting in Pyuthan district, the deputy commander
ofthe Maoist forces, Prabhakar, retorted that: "We cannot
merge the people's army with corrupt killers like Pyar
Jung Thapa". But his complaint is primarily with the top
brass. He emphasised that he saw no problem in converting
the RNA's "patriotic and nationalist soldiers and officers"
into a national army.169 hi an interview with The New York
Times, Baburam Bhattarai did not talk about disarmament
but reiterated the Maoists' commitment to put their troops
under international supervision during the election for a
constituent assembly ifthe RNA was similarly restrained.
"For free and fair elections, let both the PLA and RNA be
kept aside", he proposed. "Let an international supervisory
167 The fund has a balance of some $93.7 million. Ambar
Bahadur Thapamagar, chairman of the independent Ex-Army
Welfare Council, filed a case in the Supreme Court in 2001
challenging its lack of transparency, which is yet to be resolved.
Madhav Dhungel, "Jawanko kamai, hakimko rajain", Nepal, 5
March 2006.
168 "Maoist militia could be incorporated in RNA: CoAS
Thapa", The Kathmandu Post, 26 April 2006.
169 "Pyarjang thapajasta bhrashtaharusanga janamukti sena
ekikrit nahune", Janadesh, 2 May 2006.
body keep an eye on both".170 It will not be easy to agree
on this but it is encouraging that the topic is being openly
Army officers' repeated complaints that party politicians
must shoulder some ofthe blame for their poor relations
are not without foundation. While the parties argue that
the army's support ofthe royal coup demonstrates that
their fears ofthe RNA's partisanship were justified, the
messy history of government-military relations since
1990 does not fully exonerate them. The parties need to
do more to build bridges with the military and to equip
themselves, as well as the government's civil servants,
with the capacity to manage the military professionally.
The International Role
It is important that there be no resumption of lethal aid,
especially now that the bilateral ceasefire renders it
unnecessary. The RNA has its own ammunition-
manufacturing capacity and does not require outside
assistance.171 All engagement with the military must be
channelled through the civilian government and predicated
on concrete steps toward operationalising democratic
control. The international community will also need to
maintain pressure for a full and transparent investigation
of army human rights abuses, including adequate sentences
for those convicted, and the investigation of all unresolved
cases of forced disappearance.
A key donor focus should be to improve the capacity of
politicians and civil servants to manage the armed forces
professionally. At the same time, governments should both
support a voluntary suspension of new Nepalese
contributions to UN peacekeeping missions until RNA
human rights abuses are satisfactorily investigated and
concrete steps have been taken to assert democratic control
ofthe military, and help the RNA make the necessary
reforms that would enable it eventually to increase its
contributions to UN missions.
Helping the civil police is equally important. They need
to be strengthened so they can play a central role in
maintaining law and order during the ceasefire.
The Challenges
Demands that members and officials of the royal
government - in particular those responsible for suppressing
Somini Sengupta, "Nepalese Maoist proposes that rebels
and army curb troops", The New York Times, 28 April 2006.
171 Crisis Group interviews, March 2006. The RNA is able to
manufacture 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition compatible
with Indian INSAS rifles, American M16s and its older SLRs.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 26
the pro-democracy movement, including killing and
injuring demonstrators - be brought to justice have
featured prominently both during and after the protests.
Experiences in transitional justice around the world
suggest two fundamental rules: (i) don't rush: decisions
should not be taken in the heat ofthe moment but after
as wide and inclusive a national debate as possible; and
(ii) there is no single model: the key is to reach a formula
with broad popular legitimacy, which requires patience
from both the new government and an angry population
that wants quick results.
The government has formed a five-member independent
commission under former Judge Krishna Jung Rayamajhi
to probe state atrocities during the April movement.172
Rayamajhi has said that, if needed, the commission could
also summon the then chief executive ofthe country - in
other words, the king.173 Nepal's own earlier efforts at
transitional justice indicate the difficult areas that will have
to be debated. In 1990 an independent judicial probe,
the Mallik Commission, investigated abuses during the
democracy movement that ended the Panchayat system.
Its detailed findings identified suspects but no action was
taken.174 At the time this enabled the country to move
forward without acrimonious legal retribution. However,
the reappearance of many ofthe 1990 accused in key
positions under the post-royal coup government has
highlighted the dangers of a blanket amnesty, especially
one that was not widely discussed or approved.
A thorough investigation - probably best undertaken by
an independent commission - into the unresolved cases of
forced disappearances during the course ofthe war must
be an immediate priority. It ought to be possible now to
deal promptly and transparently with outstanding cases
of human rights abuses by state security forces. Maoist
violations can be investigated and files prepared for later
possible prosecutions. While dealing with those directly
responsible for killing and injuring demonstrators in April
2006 may be relatively straightforward, addressing the
thousands of violations over the course ofthe conflict will
be a delicate process inextricably connected to the politics
of peace negotiations.
Beyond transitional measures, future administrations will
be faced with wider tasks in reforming the judicial system,
whose unresponsiveness and perceived bias was one of
the grievances which helped popularise the Maoists'
alternative "people's courts". As well as addressing such
weaknesses, the independent National Human Rights
Commission, whose current members were appointed
by the royal government, will need fresh leadership and a
more convincing mandate to act as an effective watchdog.
The International Role
Transitional justice is a sensitive area where national
ownership and decision-making is crucial. However, the
government could benefit from experiences in other
countries and technical input. OHCHR is well placed to
be the first source for advice and to coordinate technical
assistance in these areas. It has already offered to share
the findings of its own investigations into rights abuses
with legitimate authorities.
f.     preparing for constitutional
The Challenges
There are two headline challenges: (i) negotiating the
remaining differences between the major political players
and limiting the capacity of potential spoilers to disrupt
the process; and (ii) ensuring that constitutional change
is an inclusive, popularly endorsed and driven process,
delivering a final constitution that is unambiguously
endorsed by the people of Nepal. Addressing both these
requirements, which will often be in conflict, will not be
easy, although sustained public pressure should help force
the political players to resolve their differences.
That constitutional reform will be achieved through
a constituent assembly is now hardly in doubt. Unable to
attend the first meeting of the reinstated House of
Representatives on 28 April due to ill health, Prime Minister
Koirala submitted a written motion pledging constituent
assembly elections. It passed unanimously but the process
remains to be debated and decided.175 Although the Maoists
have not set out a detailed proposal they are again ahead
ofthe mainstream parties in planning. In an telephone
interview, Baburam Bhattarai listed some ofthe issues
that need to be discussed, including the election process,
constituency numbers and representation of ethnic
minorities, women and marginalised groups.176
The members are: Harihar Birahi (journalist), Dr Kiran
Shrestha (Nepal Medical Association general secretary), Ram
Kumar Shrestha and Ram Prasad Shrestha (both lawyers). See
"Panel to bring to book stir suppressors", The Himalyan Times,
6 May 2006.
173 "Chief executive  can be  summoned:  Rayamajhi",, 8 May 2006.
174 See Crisis Group Report, Electing Chaos, op. cit.
Tilak Pokharel & Yuvraj Acharya, "House moves constituent
assembly poll", The Kathmandu Post, 29 April 2006.
176 "Nepalis deceived again: Bhattarai", Himalayan Times 28
April 2006. On Maoist plans for constitutional reform, see
Crisis Group Asia Report N°99, Towards a Lasting Peace in
Nepal: The Constitutional Issues, 15 June 2005, and Crisis
Group Asia Report N°104, Nepal's Maoists: Their Aims,
Structure and Strategy, 27 October 2005.
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 27
A fuller list of key substantive issues includes:177
Social and political inclusion of ethnic, caste and
regional groups and women. Many among the hundreds
of protestors outside parliament as it sat for its first session
on 28 April were pushing for an assembly that would
have unconditional authority to deliver minority rights
and make Nepal a secular state.178 This is only one
indication ofthe many demands that Nepal's diverse
citizenry will expect to be addressed.
Sub-national governance. There are longstanding
demands for devolution of powers to regional and more
local levels. This is a popular cause that the Maoists have
also embraced.
Electoral reform. Many complaints about the functioning
ofthe post-1990 democratic system have focused on
an electoral system that critics claim is inherently
unrepresentative. There will be heated debates over the
retention of a modified first-past-the-post model or the
adoption of other, more proportional models.
Civil-military relations. The new constitution should
leave no ambiguity over democratic control ofthe security
The future of the monarchy. While the choice has
probably been reduced to one between a republic and a
purely ceremonial monarchy, this question will likely
remain the most emotionally charged and controversial.
The International Role
The constitutional reform process will be complex and
probably require various forms of technical help. Heavy-
handed aid could compromise the essential principle of
a people's constitution. Donors should be guided by the
government's requests, avoid competing for involvement
and be particularly careful not to impose models. That said,
they should support a people-driven process, assisting
where requested in funding or technically facilitating
public consultations and a wide national debate. They
should also be prepared to provide more detailed technical
assistance where appropriate, while remembering that
supporting fundamental changes on the issues outlined
above will require a new approach to development and
other assistance if Nepal is to achieve the genuine social
and economic transformation its people are demanding.
The April 2006 people's movement is the first step in a
long process. The defeat ofthe king's absolute rule was
essential but does not in itself resolve many problems. The
aspirations ofthe people go far beyond simply revising
the role ofthe monarchy. There can be no return to any
earlier status quo: the demand is for fundamental reform
and the transformation of Nepal's political, social and
economic structures. Many will resist such changes:
for conservatives within Nepal and beyond a powerful
democratic mass movement is almost as alarming as
a Maoist revolution. But change must come, and the
outside world should support the people's hard-won
chance to deliver a new Nepal through a transparent,
inclusive and representative process.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 10 May 2006
For detailed consideration of process and substance issues,
see Crisis Group Report, Towards a Lasting Peace in Nepal, op.
178 "Civil society warns leaders", The Kathmandu Post, 29 April
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Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 15, 10 May 2006
Page 28
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Courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006 Page 29
King Gyanendra's Nepali New Year message to the nation, April 14, 2006
Beloved Countrymen,
On the occasion ofthe advent ofthe New Year 2063, we extend best wishes for peace, good health and prosperity of
all Nepalese, living in the country and abroad. We appreciate the understanding and patience ofthe Nepalese people,
conscientiousness ofthe civil servants and the perseverance, courage and discipline displayed by the security personnel
during the past year.
Democracy demands restraint and consensus as all forms of extremism are incompatible with democracy. While facing the
challenges confronting the nation, democracy also emphasises acceptance ofthe preeminence ofthe collective wisdom
in charting a future course. Aware of our traditions and sensitivities, as well as the self-respect and self-confidence ofthe
Nepalese people who have always remained independent throughout history, dialogue must form the basis for the resolution
of all problems. We, therefore, call upon all political parties to join in a dialogue, which we have always advocated, to bear
the responsibility of and contribute towards activating the multiparty democratic polity. We believe that there is no alternative
to multiparty democracy in the 21st century and the verdict ofthe ballot alone is legitimate. It is our wish that in order to
reenergize multiparty democracy, there should not be any delay in reactivating all representative bodies through elections.
We are in favour of sustainable peace and the people's right to vote. Democratic norms and values demand a commitment
that the goals set forth by the Constitution ofthe Kingdom of Nepal-1990 can be achieved only through constitutional
means. It is, therefore, our desire that with the active participation of all political parties committed to peace and democracy,
a meaningful exercise in multiparty democracy be initiated through an exemplary democratic exercise like the general
May the efforts at ensuring sustainable peace and meaningful democracy in the interest ofthe nation and people bear
fruit during the New Year.
May Lord Pashupatinath bless us all!
Jaya Nepal!
Source: Rastriya Samachar Samiti
King Gyanendra's proclamation to the nation, 21 April 2006
Beloved Countrymen,
You are all aware that, given the situation prevailing in the country then, we were compelled to take the decision of
1 February 2005 to set in motion a meaningful exercise in multiparty democracy by activating all elected bodies, ensuring
peace and security and a corruption-free good governance through the collective wisdom, understanding and the united
efforts of all the Nepalese. By supporting our decision, the Nepalese people made amply clear their desire for peace and
democracy and the civil servants demonstrated sincerity towards their duties. We are appreciative of this. We also have high
regard for the dutifulness, valour and discipline displayed by the security personnel, upholding their glorious traditions.
By visiting different parts ofthe country, we made honest endeavours to acquaint ourselves with the hopes and aspirations
of our people, mitigate their hardships and boost their morale. We also called on the political parties to enter into a dialogue
in the interest ofthe nation and people afflicted by violence and terrorism. However, this did not materialise. The ideals of
democracy can be realised only through the active participation of political parties. In keeping with the traditions ofthe
Shah Dynasty to reign in accordance with the popular will in the greater interest ofthe nation and people and our unflinching
commitment towards Constitutional Monarchy and multiparty democracy, we, through this Proclamation, affirm that the
Executive Power ofthe Kingdom of Nepal, which was in our safekeeping, shall, from this day, be returned to the people
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006 Page 30
and be exercised in accordance with Article 35 ofthe Constitution ofthe Kingdom of Nepal - 1990. As the source of
Sovereign Authority is inherent in the people,179 harmony and understanding must be preserved in the interest ofthe nation
and people in an environment of peace and security. While safeguarding multiparty democracy, the nation must be taken
ahead along the road of peace and prosperity by bringing into the democratic mainstream those who have deviated from the
constitutional path. Similarly, a meaningful exercise in democracy must be ensured with the activation of representative
bodies through elections as soon as possible. We, therefore, call upon the Seven Party Alliance to recommend a name, for
the post of Prime Minister, at the earliest for the constitution ofthe Council of Mnisters which will bear the responsibility
of governing the country in accordance with the Constitution ofthe Kingdom of Nepal - 1990. The present Council of
Ministers will continue to function until the appointment ofthe Prime Minister.
May Lord Pashupatinath bless us all!
Jaya Nepal!
(Unofficial Translation)
Source: Royal Palace Secretariat
King Gyanendra's proclamation to the nation, 24 April 2006
Beloved Countrymen,
Convinced that the source of State Authority and Sovereignty ofthe Kingdom of Nepal is inherent in the people of Nepal
and cognizant ofthe spirit ofthe ongoing people's movement as well as to resolve the on-going violent conflict and other
problems facing the country according to the road map ofthe agitating Seven Party Alliance, we, through this Proclamation,
reinstate the House of Representatives which was dissolved on 22 May 2002 on the advice ofthe then Prime Minister
in accordance with the Constitution ofthe Kingdom of Nepal-1990. We call upon the Seven Party Alliance to bear the
responsibility of taking the nation on the path to national unity and prosperity, while ensuring permanent peace and
safeguarding multiparty democracy. We also summon the session ofthe reinstated House of Representatives at the Sansad
Bhawan, Singha Durbar at 1 P.M. on Friday, 28 April 2006.
We are confident that this House will contribute to the overall welfare of Nepal and the Nepalese people. We extend our
heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their lives in the people's movement and wish the injured speedy recovery.
We are confident that the nation will forge ahead towards sustainable peace, progress, full-fledged democracy and national
May Lord Pashupatinath bless us all!
Jaya Nepal!
(Unofficial Translation)
Source: Royal Palace Secretariat
179 The original Nepali text refers not to "sovereign authority" but to "state power".
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 31
The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an
independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation,
with nearly 120 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
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The Crisis Group Board - which includes prominent
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Foundation and private sector donors include Carnegie
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May 2006
Further information about Crisis Group can be obtained from our website:
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 32
Cracks in the Marble: Turkmenistan's Failing Dictatorship,
Asia Report N°44, 17 January 2003 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan's Reform Program: Illusion or Reality?, Asia
Report N°46, 18 February 2003 (also available in Russian)
Tajikistan: A Roadmap for Development, Asia Report N°51,
24 April 2003
CentralAsia: Last Chance for Change, Asia Briefing N°25, 29
April 2003 (also available in Russian)
Radical Islam in Central Asia: Responding to Hizb ut-Tahrir,
Asia Report N°58, 30 June 2003
CentralAsia: Islam and the State, Asia Report N°59, 10 July 2003
Youth in Central Asia: Losing the New Generation, Asia
Report N°66, 31 October 2003
Is Radical Islam Inevitable in Central Asia? Priorities for
Engagement, Asia Report N°72, 22 December 2003
The Failure of Reform in Uzbekistan: Ways Forward for the
International Community, Asia Report N°76, 11 March 2004
(also available in Russian)
Tajikistan's Politics: Confrontation or Consolidation?, Asia
Briefing N°33, 19 May 2004
Political Transition in Kyrgyzstan: Problems and Prospects,
Asia Report N°81, 11 August 2004
Repression and Regression in Turkmenistan: A New
International Strategy, Asia Report N°85, 4 November 2004
(also available in Russian)
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: The Andijon Uprising, Asia Briefing N°38, 25
May 2005 (also available in Russian)
Kyrgyzstan: A Faltering State, Asia Report N°109, 16 December
Uzbekistan: In for the Long Haul, Asia Briefing N°45, 16
February 2006
Central Asia: What Role for the European Union?, Asia
Report N° 113, 10 April 2006
Taiwan Strait I: What's Left of "One China"?, Asia Report
N°53, 6 June 2003
Taiwan Strait II: The Risk of War, Asia Report N°54,6 June 2003
Taiwan Strait III: The Chance of Peace, Asia Report N°55, 6
June 2003
North Korea: A Phased Negotiation Strategy, Asia Report N°61,
1 August 2003
Taiwan Strait IV: How an Ultimate Political Settlement Might
Look, Asia Report N°75, 26 February 2004
North Korea: Where Next for the Nuclear Talks?, Asia Report
N°87, 15 November 2004 (also available in Korean and in
Korea Backgrounder: How the South Views its Brother from
Another Planet, Asia Report N°89, 14 December 2004 (also
available in Korean and in Russian)
North Korea: Can the Iron Fist Accept the Invisible Hand?,
Asia Report N°96, 25 April 2005 (also available in Korean and
in 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)
China and North Korea: Comrades Forever?, Asia Report
N°l 12, 1 February 2006 (also available in Korean)
Afghanistan: Judicial Reform and Transitional Justice, Asia
Report N°45, 28 January 2003
Afghanistan: Women and Reconstruction, Asia Report N°48.
14 March 2003 (also available in Dari)
Pakistan: The Mullahs and the Military, Asia Report N°49,
20 March 2003
Nepal Backgrounder: Ceasefire - Soft Landing or Strategic
Pause?, Asia Report N°50, 10 April 2003
Afghanistan's Flawed Constitutional Process, Asia Report
N°56, 12 June 2003 (also available in Dari)
Nepal: Obstacles to Peace, Asia Report N°57, 17 June 2003
Afghanistan: The Problem of Pashtun Alienation, Asia
Report N°62, 5 August 2003
Peacebuilding in Afghanistan, Asia Report N°64, 29 September
Disarmament and Reintegration in Afghanistan, Asia Report
N°65, 30 September 2003
Nepal- Back to the Gun, Asia Briefing N°28, 22 October 2003
Kashmir: The View from Islamabad, Asia Report N°68, 4
December 2003
Kashmir: The View from New Delhi, Asia Report N°69, 4
December 2003
Kashmir: Learning from the Past, Asia Report N°70, 4
December 2003
Afghanistan: The Constitutional Loya Jirga, Afghanistan
Briefing N°29, 12 December 2003
Unfulfilled Promises: Pakistan's Failure to Tackle Extremism,
Asia Report N°73, 16 January 2004
Nepal: Dangerous Plans for Village Militias, Asia Briefing
N°30, 17 February 2004 (also available in Nepali)
Devolution in Pakistan: Reform or Regression?, Asia Report
N°77, 22 March 2004
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 33
Elections and Security in Afghanistan, Asia Briefing N°31, 30
March 2004
India/Pakistan Relations and Kashmir: Steps toward Peace,
Asia Report N°79, 24 June 2004
Pakistan: Reforming the Education Sector, Asia Report N°84,
7 October 2004
Building Judicial Independence in Pakistan, Asia Report
N°86, 10 November 2004
Afghanistan: From Presidential to Parliamentary Elections,
Asia Report N°88, 23 November 2004
Nepal's Royal Coup: Making a Bad Situation Worse, Asia
Report N°91, 9 February 2005
Afghanistan: Getting Disarmament Back on  Track, Asia
Briefing N°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
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
Pakistan's Local Polls: Shoring Up Military Rule, Asia Briefing
N°43, 22 November 2005
Nepal's New Alliance: The Mainstream Parlies and the Maoists,
Asia Report 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 of the Earthquake, Asia Briefing
N°46, 15 March 2006
Nepal's Crisis: Mobilising International Influence, Asia Briefing
N°49,19 April 2006
Aceh: A Fragile Peace, Asia Report N°47, 27 February 2003
(also available in Indonesian)
Dividing Papua: How Not to Do It, Asia Briefing N°24, 9
April 2003
Myanmar Backgrounder: Ethnic Minority Politics, Asia Report
N°52, 7 May 2003
Aceh: Why the Military Option Still Won't Work, Indonesia
Briefing N°26, 9 May 2003 (also available in Indonesian)
Indonesia:   Managing  Decentralisation   and   Conflict   in
South Sulawesi, Asia Report N°60, 18 July 2003
Aceh: How Not to Win Hearts and Minds, Indonesia Briefing
N°27, 23 July 2003
Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still
Dangerous, Asia Report N°63, 26 August 2003
The Perils of Private Security in Indonesia: Guards and Militias
on Bali andLombok, Asia Report N°67, 7 November 2003
Indonesia Backgrounder: A Guide to the 2004 Elections, Asia
Report N°71, 18 December 2003
Indonesia Backgrounder: Jihad in Central Sulawesi, Asia
Report N°74, 3 February 2004
Myanmar: Sanctions, Engagement or Another Way Forward?,
Asia Report N°78, 26 April 2004
Indonesia: Violence Erupts Again in Ambon, Asia Briefing
N°32, 17 May 2004
Southern Philippines Backgrounder: Terrorism and the Peace
Process, Asia Report N°80,13 July 2004 (also available in Bahasa)
Myanmar: Aid to the Border Areas, Asia Report N°82, 9
September 2004
Indonesia Backgrounder: Why Salafism and Terrorism Mostly
Don't Mix, Asia Report N°83, 13 September 2004
Burma/Myanmar: Update on HIV/AIDS policy, Asia Briefing
N°34, 16 December 2004
Indonesia: Rethinking Internal Security Strategy, Asia Report
N°90, 20 December 2004
Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian
Embassy Bombing, Asia Report N°92, 22 February 2005
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
Aceh: A New Chance for Peace, Asia Briefing N°40, 15 August
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
Aceh: So far, So Good, Asia Update Briefing N°44, 13 December
2005 (also available in Indonesian)
Philippines Terrorism: The Role of Militant Islamic Converts,
Asia Report NT 10, 19 December 2005
Papua: The Dangers of Shutting Down Dialogue, Asia Briefing
N°47,23 March 2006
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° 114,
5 May 2006
For Crisis Group reports and briefing papers on:
Latin America and Caribbean
Middle East and North Africa
Thematic Issues
please visit our website
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 115, 10 May 2006
Page 34
Christopher Patten
Former European Commissioner for External Relations;
Former Governor of Hong Kong; former UK Cabinet Minister;
Chancellor of Oxford and Newcastle Universities
Thomas Pickering
Senior Vice President, International Relations, Boeing;
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador,
Nigeria, and Jordan
President & CEO
Gareth Evans
Former Foreign Minister of Australia
Executive Committee
Morton Abramowitz
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador to Turkey
Emma Bonino
Member of European Parliament; former European Commissioner
Cheryl Carolus
Former South African High Commissioner to the UK; former Secretary
General ofthe ANC
Maria Livanos Cattaui*
Former Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce
Yoichi Funabashi
Chief Diplomatic Correspondent & Columnist, The Asahi Shimbun,
William Shawcross
Journalist and author, UK
Stephen Solarz*
Former U.S. Congressman
George Soros
Chairman, Open Society Institute
William O. Taylor
Chairman Emeritus, The Boston Globe, U.S.
Adnan Abu-Odeh
Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah II and to King Hussein;
former Jordan Permanent Representative to 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
Diego Arria
Former Ambassador of Venezuela to the UN
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor to the President
Kim Campbell
Secretary General, Club of Madrid; former Prime Minister of Canada
Victor Chu
Chairman, First Eastern Investment Group, Hong Kong
Wesley Clark
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Pat Cox
Former President of European Parliament
Ruth Dreifuss
Former President, Switzerland
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denmark
Mark Eyskens
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Leslie H. Gelb
President Emeritus of Council on Foreign Relations, U.S.
Bronislaw Geremek
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland
Frank Giustra
Chairman, Endeavour Financial, Canada
I.K Gujral
Former Prime Minister of India
Carla Hills
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing; former U.S. Trade Representative
Lena Hjelm-Wallen
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Sweden
Swanee Hunt
Chair of Inclusive Security: Women Waging Peace; former U.S.
Ambassador to Austria
Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary
Executions; former Chair Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Shiv Vikram Khemka
Founder and Executive Director (Russia) of SUN Group, India
James V. Kimsey
Founder and Chairman Emeritus of America Online, Inc. (AOL)
Bethuel Kiplagat
Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya
Trifun Kostovski
Member of Parliament, Macedonia; founder ofKometal Trade Gmbh
Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister, Netherlands
Elliott F. Kulick
Chairman, Pegasus International, U.S.
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Novelist and journalist, U.S.
Todung Mulya Lubis
Human rights lawyer and author, Indonesia
 Nepal: From People Power to Peace?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°l 15, 10 May 2006
Page 35
Ayo Obe
Chair of Steering Committee of World Movement for Democracy,
Christine Ockrent
Journalist and author, France
Friedbert Pfluger
Parliamentary State Secretary,  Federal Ministry of Defence;
member ofthe German Bundestag
Victor M. Pinchuk
Founder oflnterpipe Scientific and Industrial Production Group
Surin Pitsuwan
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thailand
Itamar Rabinovich
President of Tel Aviv University; former Israeli Ambassador to the
U.S. and Chief Negotiator with Syria
Fidel V. Ramos
Former President ofthe Philippines
Lord Robertson of Port Ellen
Former Secretary General of NATO; former Defence Secretary, UK
Mohamed Sahnoun
Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Africa
Ghassan Salame
Former Minister Lebanon, Professor of International Relations, Paris
Salim A. Salim
Former Prime Minister of Tanzania; former Secretary General of
the Organisation of African Unity
Douglas Schoen
Founding Partner of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, U.S.
Par Stenback
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finland
Thorvald Stoltenberg
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway
Grigory Yavlinsky
Chairman ofYabloko Party, Russia
Uta Zapf
Chairperson   of   the    German   Bundestag   Subcommittee    on
Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation
Ernesto Zedillo
Former President of Mexico; Director, Yale Center for the Study
of Globalization
Crisis Group's International Advisory Council comprises major individual and corporate donors who contribute their advice and
experience to Crisis Group on a regular basis.
Rita E. Hauser (Chair)
Marc Abramowitz
Anglo American PLC
APCO Worldwide Inc.
Patrick E. Benzie
BHP Billiton
Harry Bookey and Pamela
John Chapman Chester
Companhia Vale do Rio Doce
Cooper Family Foundation
Peter Corcoran
Credit Suisse
John Ehara
Equinox Partners
Konrad Fischer
Iara Lee & George Gund III
Jewish World Watch
JP Morgan Global Foreign
Exchange and Commodities
George Kellner
George Loening
Douglas Makepeace
Anna Luisa Ponti
Michael L. Riordan
Sarlo Foundation ofthe Jewish
Community Endowment Fund
Tilleke & Gibbins
Baron Guy Ullens de Schooten
Stanley Weiss
Westfield Group
Woodside Energy, Ltd.
Don Xia
Yasuyo Yamazaki
Sunny Yoon
Crisis Group's Senior Advisers are former Board Members (not presently holding executive office) who maintain an association
with Crisis Group, and whose advice and support are called on from time to time.
Oscar Arias
Zainab Bangura
Christoph Bertram
Jorge Castaiieda
Eugene Chien
Gianfranco Dell'Alba
Alain Destexhe
Marika Fahlen
Stanley Fischer
Malcolm Fraser
Max Jakobson
Mong Joon Chung
Allan J. MacEachen
Barbara McDougall
Matt McHugh
George J. Mitchell
Cyril Ramaphosa
Michel Rocard
Volker Ruehe
Simone Veil
Michael Sohlman
Leo Tindemans
Ed van Thijn
Shirley Williams
As at May 2006


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