As February 29, the first historic day dawned in the new Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the United States, UN and India separately congratulated the Nepali people for their new found democratic credentials, after carefully weighing the unfurling political situation in Kathmandu during the past two weeks.
On May 28, the Nepali Constituent Assembly members overwhelmingly and finally decided to vote to declare Nepal a federal democratic republic. The United States became one of the first countries to congratulate the people of Nepal on this historic step. A press statement from the American Embassy in Kathmandu stated, “The United States of America congratulates the people of Nepal on the Constituent Assembly's first step in defining a new, democratic Nepal with the declaration of a republic on May 28…in another exciting milestone in Nepal's democratic development… we encourage the representatives of the CA to continue their work to fulfill the peoples' desire for peace, democracy and development in Nepal."
The American congratulatory note came within hours after the US State Department's deputy spokesperson, Tom Casey, noted in his regular media briefing in Washington DC that the U.S. was momentarily 'withholding' comments. Casey speaking earlier had mentioned, ” There's been a political transition. There have been elections. The new government is in place and moving forward. We have had some conversations with those officials, in part to verify that some of the efforts that we can make, in terms of being able to provide humanitarian assistance and other programs, are going to be able to move forward…Certainly, it's a situation we continue to watch. And we continue to urge forward political developments in that country."
Similarly, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also congratulated the Nepali people. In his message, Ban stated, “The people of Nepal have clearly spoken for peace and change through the April 10 Assembly election.” But Ban cautioned Nepali political parties to continue working in a cooperative manner and to form a new democratic government as soon as possible. Ban’s special representative to Nepal, Ian Martin, was more loquacious stating the UN was always proud in assisting Nepal particularly in “the election of the most inclusive body it has yet known.” Martin stated the democratically-elected Nepali representatives now had the solemn responsibility to prepare a new constitution as well as to act as an interim legislature during this next important transition phase of Nepal's peace process, and to fulfill the Nepali people's aspirations for sustained peace, economic and social progress, democracy and human rights.
Similarly, India which shares an open border with Nepal and is its closest neighbor, extended warm felicitations on behalf of the Indian parliament, government and the people of India. The Speaker of India's Lok Sabha, Somnath Chatterjee, also conveyed his good wishes stating that India remained steadfast in its commitment to extend all possible support to the Nepali people to achieve a stable, prosperous and democratic Nepal. Chatterjee also felt the successful formation of the CA to draft a new constitution for Nepal was the result of painstaking efforts and sacrifices made by the Nepali people and the political leadership to the cause of democracy. He wished that future CA discussions would be emboldened by that spirit of sacrifice, which lies at the heart of all democracies.
Yesterday afternoon, there were reports of minor skirmishes around the Narayanhiti Palace which CA members hope will be vacated in the coming two weeks. A Nepal Government prohibitory ban is still in effect on demonstrations around the palace and the Birendra International Convention Center where the CA proceedings were held. Finally, Nepal has become the youngest member of the global freedom club with the much awaited declaration coming around 11.26 p.m. which was close to midnight. Many overjoyed Kathmanduites, especially the young generation spent the remainder of the night street dancing, singing, and waiting excitedly to get a glimpse of the early morning sun rise over the New Nepal.
(Surya B. Prasai is an independent global strategic communications, media, and international development resource consultant who writes frequently for this and other global media)
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