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Silence of the weapons, but a long way towards peace

Henriette von Kaltenborn-Stachau's picture

Political transformations are challenging processes; they can be messy; the signing of a peace accord is often only the first step in a long process. Opening up the political space, particularly in places that experienced years of domination, will increase the number of voices that call for more participation and a say in the process. These calls can feel threatening to an elite still used to the principle of exclusion and patronage; they require a change of political mind-set and acceptance of a fundamentally changed political framework. And yet, in countries emerging from violent conflict measures that head these calls and effectivly address issues of social and political exclusion are central to achieving long-term stability.

Developments In Nepal demonstrate such challenges of transformation. Though the political process moved fast after the signing of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement,things have slowed down now and the elections for the Constituent Assembly were postponed twice .  The Maoists and the mainstream political parties, particularly the National Congress, continue to be at the center of political activity and attention, not least so because both sides have an army at their disposal, and yet the political dynamics in Nepal have fundamentally changed. This change has yet to be effectively addressed. With the departure of the monarchy and the end of war the political space opened up and traditionally marginalized groups are now calling for an inclusive participatory governance system that addresses centuries of systemic marginalization.   For Nepal's  long-term stability it will be essential that these marginalized voices are heard; only if the deep-rooted ethnic exclusion is addressed will the country be on its way towards lasting peace. The Constitutional Assembly, as the first new post-peace governance institution needs to prove to Nepal's multi-ethnic society that the future will be inclusive and more participatory than the past. The opportunity to establish political and institutional credibility is now, but so far no party seems to be willing to institute real change. Many hope that the change in political mind-set will come in time.