Nepal may face turmoil again if demands not met: ICG

Kathmandu, April 5 (IANS) The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) has warned that Nepal was likely to witness fresh turmoil if the dissatisfaction over the new Constitution was not addressed soon.

There is a clear risk of escalating violence in the Terai, the ICG said in a report published on Tuesday.

The depth of social discontent, lack of fruitful negotiations and disillusionment with Madhesi political parties was creating room for radical positions, it said.

If implementation of the Constitution begins before these issues are addressed, the mainstream parties risk wholesale rejection of the new statute by a large section of the population, the group warned.

Nepal’s new constitution was promulgated in September 2015.

The ICG also urged the Nepal government and the Madhesi political parties to build trust and refrain from taking provocative action.

“Positions are not irreconcilable, but the prerequisites for any solution — respect, trust, political will, a degree of selflessness — are in short supply,” the report said.

“The deficit is fuelled by ideological struggles to maintain a status quo that challengers say cements discrimination and supporters say protects the country, and by the behaviour of political parties, their lack of internal democracy, factionalism and opportunism.”

The report warned that there was a clear risk of escalation of violence as mainstream parties would be tempted to launch counter-protests, which may lead to clashes in the event talks failed to resume and Madhesi parties launched another round of protests.

“The security forces are seen as discriminating against Madhesis and using excessive force. Employing them repeatedly to quell local protests fuels anger and radicalization, could encourage armed Madhesi groups, of which the region has a history, and might also allow a fringe Madhesi secessionist movement to gain traction.

“While unlikely to be successful or widespread, it would increase the volatility of a complex region,” the report said.

The ICG recommended that the government restore trust with the Madhesi and Tharu populations by forming an independent mechanism to investigate the protest-related deaths and avoid a heavy-handed security response during protests.

It also asked the government to refrain from ultimatums and provocative comments, and to address the economic and humanitarian consequences of the earthquakes and blockade.

It also urged the Madhesi parties to rebuild trust with all social groups which live in the plains, refrain from arbitrary protest strategies, provocative speeches and violence.

The ICG also called on India to maintain an open approach to all sides.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at girianil@gmail.com)

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