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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid