Nepalis Said Goodbye to Monarchy for Ever
At 23:26—Kathmandu Time—on 28 May 2008, Nepal’s 240 year-long monarchy was constitutionally abolished by the recently elected Constituent Assembly. However, millions of Nepalis throughout the country had been celebrating the republic from early morning on.
Nepal’s monarchy was in danger since 1996 when the Maoists initiated their anti-state armed insurgency, which they refer to as ‘People’s War’. Their primary demand was the abolition of monarchy because it was not at all concerned with people’s interests. The Nepalis had almost thrown away the monarchy in 1990 when a heinous massacre that claimed almost 600 lives took place on the way to the palace when a huge mass was proceeding towards the palace. But the leading political parties negotiated with the palace and went to power. The political parties got closer to the palace on the one hand, and on the other, the people were getting more frustrated.
In 1996, Maoists initiated an armed insurgency in which frustrated masses actively participated. King Gyanendra, by using the traditional parties loyal to the monarchy, declared Maoists as ‘ terrorists’ and obtained heavy US an Indian military aid along with money. Despite the Indian and American efforts to suppress the Maoist insurgency, it escalated more acceleratingly across Nepal.
After the 2001 Narayanhiti Palace carnage in which 10 royal family members, including the then King Birendra, Queen Aishworya, and Prince Dipendra were killed, King Gyanendra declared himself the successor. He became more power-ambitious. He denied any possibility of listening to the insurgents’ agenda. He instead proceeded to reconsolidate his power through 2/1 coup d’etat in 2005.
King Gyanendra’s coup d’etat included the detention of top political leaders traditionally loyal to him. Angered by this move, the traditional parties decided to collaborate with the Maoist insurgents who saw favorable situation for abolishing monarchy. They jointly launched a peaceful and unarmed political movement against monarchy. The movement enjoyed the support of the international community.
The international support to the agenda of the constituent assembly and republic meant the recognition of Maoist people’s War because these were the agenda frequently advocated by Maoists as the essence of their insurgency.
The international recognition of the constituent assembly poll held on 10 April facilitated Nepal’s peace process. Maoist insurgents won most of the constituent assembly seats. The international community supported their victory. When the monarchy was ultimately abolished by the elected constituent assembly, the Maoist People’s War enjoyed a real international support.
However, challenges remain for the Nepalis. Feudal forces have formed many armed and criminal groups with a clear counterrevolutionary purpose. Feudal forces schooled and cultured by the former feudal monarchy have deep-rooted influence in state mechanisms.
In the meanwhile, few hundred royal zealots affiliated to feudal state mechanisms have been threatening people with series of bomb explosions in public places. Counterrevolutionary forces may benefit from the exiting impunity in the country.