EU report and lack of maturity (English translation of Kantipur Editorial)

This is the English translation of Kantipur Editorial written on Mar 27, 2018

Kathmandu- It appears as if there is a competition going on in the country to criticise the European Union(EU). Its ripples are visible everywhere, from the government to the opposition and the media to the parliament. The EU’s Election Observation Mission’s report, which was made public last week, contains some controversial points, that have drawn flak from various stakeholders.

This incidence has not only exposed the EU’s immaturity and objectionable work ethics but it has also two more issues to the fore: First, how was it possible for a  foreign element to show its concerns in Nepal’s internal affairs in the guise of ‘suggestions’ and who were involved in all this? Secondly, we should think whether the radical reactions being expressed regarding the EU’s report in the name of criticising foreigner’s role has been creating doubts among the communities within the country.

First, let’s talk about the EU’s report. The European team, which came to Nepal during last House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly elections, was apparently not limited to the observation of electoral process and it crossed its authority when it went on to recommend the changes in laws and the constitution, without being asked for the same. Many of these recommendations are not only far from the truth but also are objectionable, and therefore, they are being criticised from all corners. Most controversial of the recommendations phrasing “These recommendations should be acted upon by giving due priority” in the first recommendation. These recommendations state “The  impact of the reservation or quota system on the ethnic composition of the House of Representatives and provincial assemblies should be reviewed.” The report made a directive recommendation calling for the removal of  Khas Arya cluster from reservation lists.

There is no “quota” word as mentioned by the EU team has been stated in the constitution. In the constitution’s Article 84 (2), only proportional electoral system has been ensured. This provision stipulates that the representation of woman, Dalit, indigenous nationalities, Madhesi, Tharu, Muslim, residents from backward areas and Khas Arya community should also be ensured in the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly.  The EU has suggested to remove the Khas Arya cluster from these clusters. This is wrong for two reasons. One – A team that had come to observe electoral process should have limited itself to the observation of the core election process only. Another- The recommendation of which Article to be removed from the constitution made by the elected constituent assembly does not fall under its authority.

As the reasons outlined above, the criticism of EU is normal. But a question arises, who has instigated the EU or a neighbouring country in other contexts on exerting pressure in the guise of suggestion? First of all, this must be introspected by the political leadership. Let’s not forget that the recent increasing role of foreign actors especially during the transitional period after 2006 movement is because of the weakness of those leaders who are in the top leadership roles.

Whoever made it possible not just for the foreign ambassadors but also for foreign agents to easily walk into the insider rooms in Baluwatar (The Prime Minister’s official residence)  and Singh Durbar (where all the ministries are based), are the ones responsible for this foreign dependency. That is why improvement in thoughts should start at the leadership level. First, the leaders themselves should get rid of foreign dependence and if they don’t then others should force them to do so.

The second issue is that we should be cautious as to whether radical reactions being expressed against the EU report would create disharmony among ourselves. No doubt, Nepal should condemn the EU report as it crossed its limitation. The  Ministry of Foreign Affairs had condemned the report by releasing a statement and probably by showing its dissatisfaction with the concerned diplomatic mission.  But immediately it was felt that the Prime Minister should also strongly condemn it.  From the ruling Left parties to the opposition Nepali Congress wrestled to register strong reactions against the EU’s report. Further loud reactions in the Parliament are still continued. The foreign observation team threw a report, now that should not become a reason among ourselves to spread fire. We need to show this kind of maturity.

This is the truth from history that there has been domination of Khas-Arya in a high level of Nepal’s state organs. Therefore, a need was felt to ensure proportional representation of other groups/communities in the state organs. For the same, the constitution has made provisions. Now just because someone says that a particular community should be deprived of that opportunity should not lead to a situation where one group tries to prove its superiority over other communities and undermine/underestimate other communities. Moreover, it is important for the ones who are in the leadership roles to show their maximum restraint and be sensitive towards the sentiments of the minorities while making such a comment. The cornerstone of our society is tolerance, and it should not be disturbed from any side.