News / Asia

Hope Amid Frustration as Nepalis Head to Polls

Hope Amid Frustration as Nepal Heads to Pollsi
X
November 18, 2013 8:12 PM
As Nepalis head to the polls on Tuesday to elect members of a new Constituent Assembly, many are left to wonder whether the vote will end years of political paralysis that has hurt the Himalayan country’s already lagging economy. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from Kathmandu, where some say the election might be Nepal’s last chance at stability.
Hope Amid Frustration as Nepal Heads to Polls
Aru Pande
As Nepalis head to the polls on Tuesday to elect members of a new Constituent Assembly, many are left to wonder whether the vote will end years of political paralysis that has hurt the Himalayan country’s already lagging economy.  And there is concern that the election may be Nepal’s last chance at stability.
 
Monday is no different from many others in Nepal, as political parties opposed to the election have called yet another general strike.

Owner Vikal Shreshta opens cyber cafe despite strike, Kathmandu, Nov. 17, 2013. (Aru Pande/VOA)Owner Vikal Shreshta opens cyber cafe despite strike, Kathmandu, Nov. 17, 2013. (Aru Pande/VOA)
x
Owner Vikal Shreshta opens cyber cafe despite strike, Kathmandu, Nov. 17, 2013. (Aru Pande/VOA)
Owner Vikal Shreshta opens cyber cafe despite strike, Kathmandu, Nov. 17, 2013. (Aru Pande/VOA)
Still, Vikal Shrestha chose to open his cyber café in the heart of the capital, saying he cannot afford to keep his doors closed just because Nepal’s leaders are unable to reach a consensus.
 
“Due to political problems, people are doing a lot of strikes and bandhs [shutdowns], so normal people are not happy with that," Shrestha said. "It must be stopped.”
 
Steps away from Shreshta’s café, some of the more than 12 million eligible voters are picking up their election ID cards as they prepare to cast their ballots for 240 contested seats in the 601-member Constituent Assembly. They have been through this process before in 2008, when the parliamentary body was first formed.
 
Nepal has seen tremendous change in the last decade: the end of a civil war, the abolishment of the monarchy, and former Maoist rebels joining the government.  But despite several attempts, this now democratic republic has yet to draft a constitution and move forward.
 
Gagan Thapa is a former lawmaker with the Nepal Congress, one of four main parties that were unable to agree on a draft constitution and a structure of government, leading to dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in 2012 and the establishment of an interim government.
 
“I believe this is the last opportunity for the political parties that were part of the peace process," Thapa said. "This time, if we are able to make a constitution within the timeframe of one year then that will be a foundation for us to move ahead, but if we fail, then the whole course [of the peace process] will collapse.”
 
Many Nepalis are disillusioned after having high expectations for change when the former rebel Maoists won the most seats in the Constituent Assembly five years ago, said former Maoist leader and analyst Mumaram Khana.
 
Instead of progress, many have seen increased corruption in a country that ranks 157 out of 186 in the United Nations Human Development Index.

"It is not that Nepalis expected much, but they thought that a new constitution will bring stability and lead the country to economic development," Khanal said.
 
Shopkeeper Saroj Khanal gets ready for customers, Kathmandu, Nov. 17, 2013. (Aru Pande/VOA)Shopkeeper Saroj Khanal gets ready for customers, Kathmandu, Nov. 17, 2013. (Aru Pande/VOA)
x
Shopkeeper Saroj Khanal gets ready for customers, Kathmandu, Nov. 17, 2013. (Aru Pande/VOA)
Shopkeeper Saroj Khanal gets ready for customers, Kathmandu, Nov. 17, 2013. (Aru Pande/VOA)
Still, some Nepalis, like shopkeeper Saroj Khanal, are not giving up hope. He said like any new democracy, it will take some time for the former Himalayan kingdom to chart its political future.

"Definitely change will happen because Maoists have joined the democratic process, formed a government and taken some good steps," he said.
 
Sandwiched between Asian economic giants India and China, many here say Nepal has already lost too much to the political turmoil and can only benefit if and when stability is once again established.

You May Like

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs