News / Asia

Hope Amid Frustration as Nepalis Head to Polls

Hope Amid Frustration as Nepal Heads to Pollsi
X
November 18, 2013
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid