BIPPI B's Independent Pro-Peace Initiative  
 

Nepalese Civil War – 1996/2006 (to present day)
updated at January 2008
 

Location of Nepal

Map of Nepal

Topography of Nepal

Administrative division

Source © Wikipedia

Nepal, officially known according to its Interim Constitution as the State of Nepal, is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia that overlaps with East Asia, bordered by Tibet to the north and by India to the south, east and west. For a small territory, the Nepali landscape is uncommonly diverse, ranging from the humid Terai in the south to the lofty Himalayas in the north. Nepal boasts eight of the world's fourteen highest mountains, including Mount Everest on the border with China. Kathmandu is the capital and largest city (3 districts) (pop. 2.2 million est.). The other main cities include Bhaktapur, Patan, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Birgunj, Janakpur, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, and Mahendranagar. The origin of the name Nepal is uncertain, but the most popular understanding is that it is derived from the Newari language, which is called the Nepal language by the Newari people.
Nepali culture is very similar to the cultures of Tibet and India. There are similarities in clothing, language and food.

Politics
An interim Parliament was formed on January 15, 2007 after a comprehensive peace agreement between the ruling Seven-Party Alliance and the Maoist rebels. Prime Minister and Council of Ministers chosen through political consensus among the eight ruling parties on April 1, 2007; role of monarchy suspended, with future status to be decided by upcoming Constituent Assembly.
Interim constitution promulgated on January 15, 2007.

(Source: US Department of State)

Nepal is divided into 14 zones and 75 districts, grouped into 5 development regions. Each district is headed by a fixed chief district officer responsible for maintaining law and order and coordinating the work of field agencies of the various government ministries.
The 14 zones are:

Bagmati
Bheri
Dhawalagiri
Gandaki
 
Janakpur
Karnali
Koshi

Lumbini
 
Mahakali
Mechi

Narayani
Rapti
 
Sagarmatha
Seti


TYPE OF CONFLICT
Transition after Maoist insurgency for state control, the so-called
Nepalese Civil War.

Read on Mao Zedong and
Maoism

FIGHTING FACTIONS FROM 1996 TO 2006
1) Nepali government, led in the last years by
King Gyanendra and mainly supported by India and USA.  On April 21, 2006 King Gyanendra gave up his absolute power in favour of a democratic system.
2) Guerrillas of the Maoist Communist Party of Nepal (CPN or NCP, Nepalese Communist Party) which is led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as
Prachanda (The Fierce), backed by Maoist militia groups from north-western India.

FIGHTING FACTIONS AFTER 2006
1) Interim Nepali government.

2) Guerrillas of the
Democratic Terai Liberation Front, estimated only 150-200 fighters but active from Saptari to Rautahat districts through its ally the Tarai Tigers.

CASUALTIES
According to IRIN and Reuters, an estimated 12,000 to 13,000 people have died from 1996 to 2006 (over 4,000 killed by Maoists and 8,200 by the government) and an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people were internally displaced (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre).

Read on internally displaced people

WEAPONS' SUPPLIERS (before 2007)
The government is armed by India, USA and UK. Its troops number today up to 95,000.
Since 9/11 the Anglo-American coalition has committed millions of euros in military aid in the name of the "world war against terrorism". China, Belgium, South Africa, Poland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and France also supply military support to the government. In 2005, following King Gyanendra’s coup both India and the UK suspended military aid to Nepal for a brief period of time but later both countries resumed arms shipments. The US also postponed the shipment of “lethal arms” to Nepal.

Guerrillas, who emerged in the mid-1990s out of a mix of state repression and poverty, numbered between about 5000 and 15,000. They produced their own arms and steal weapons from army barracks. Some of them were supposed to be trained by other self-declared Maoist armed groups such as the Naxalists in India and members of Shinning Path in Peru. It seems they received military assistance also from Kashmiri separatists and China.

Read on guerrilla warfare and arms industry

HISTORICAL
BACKGROUND
One of the world's poorest countries, landlocked Nepal has been under the sway of an hereditary monarchy or ruling family for most of its known history, largely isolated from the rest of the world. With its ancient culture and the Himalayas as a backdrop, Nepal has long been the destination of choice for travellers in search of adventure.

Neolithic tools found in the Kathmandu Valley indicate that people have been living in the Himalayan region for at least 9,000 years. It appears that people who were probably of Tibeto-Burman ethnicity lived in Nepal 2,500 years ago.

Indo-Aryan tribes entered the valley around 1500 BC. Around 1000 BC, small kingdoms and confederations of clans arose. One of the princes of the Shakya confederation was Siddhartha Gautama (563–483 BC), who renounced his royalty to lead an ascetic life and came to be known as the Buddha ("the one who has awakened"). By 250 BC, the region came under the influence of the Mauryan empire of northern India, and later became a puppet state under the Gupta Dynasty in the 4th century. From the late 5th century, rulers called the Licchavis governed the area. The Licchavi dynasty went into decline in the late 8th century and was followed by a Newar era, from 879, although the extent of their control over the entire country is uncertain. By late 11th century, southern Nepal came under the influence of the Chalukya Empire of southern India. Under the Chalukyas, Nepal's religious establishment changed as the kings patronised Hinduism instead of the Buddhism prevailing at that time.

By the early 13th century, leaders were emerging in Nepal whose names ended with the Sanskrit suffix malla ("wrestler"). Initially their reign was marked by upheaval, but the kings consolidated their power over the next 200 years. By late 14th century much of the country began to come under a unified rule. This unity was short-lived: in 1482 the kingdom was carved into three – Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhadgaon – which had petty rivalry for centuries.

In 1765, the Gorkha ruler Prithvi Narayan Shah set out to unify the kingdoms, after first seeking arms and aid from Indian kings and buying the neutrality of bordering Indian kingdoms. After several bloody battles and sieges, he managed to unify Nepal three years later. However, the actual war never took place while conquering the Kathmandu Valley. In fact, it was during the Indra Jaatra, when all the valley citizens were celebrating the festival, Prithvi Narayan Shah with his troops captured the valley, virtually without any effort. This marked the birth of the modern nation of Nepal. A dispute and subsequent war with Tibet over control of mountain passes forced Nepal to retreat and pay heavy repatriations to China, who came to Tibet's rescue. Rivalry with the British East India Company over the annexation of minor states bordering Nepal eventually led to the brief but bloody Anglo-Nepalese War (1815–16), in which Nepal defended its present day borders but lost its territories west of the Kali River, including present day Uttarakhand state and several Punjab Hill States of present day Himachal Pradesh. The Treaty of Sugauli, signed on December 2, 1815, also ceded parts of the Terai and Sikkim to the Company in exchange for Nepalese autonomy.

Factionalism among the royal family led to instability after the war. In 1846, a discovered plot to overthrow Jang Bahadur, a fast-rising military leader by the reigning queen, led to the Kot Massacre. Armed clashes between military personnel and administrators loyal to the queen led to the execution of several hundred princes and chieftains around the country. Bahadur won and founded the Rana dynasty, leading to the Rana autocracy. The king was made a titular figure, and the post of Prime Minister was made powerful and hereditary. The Ranas were staunchly pro-British, and assisted the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and later in both World Wars. In 1923 the United Kingdom, ruled by King George V of Windsor, formally signed with Nepal, ruled by King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah, an agreement of friendship, in which Nepal's independence was recognised by the UK.

BACKGROUND TO THE CIVIL WAR (Read on civil war, communism and democracy)
In the late 1940s, emerging pro-democracy movements and political parties in Nepal were critical of the Rana autocracy and the hereditary rule by a small elite at the top of Nepal’s complex ethnic and caste-based social hierarchy. Meanwhile, Maoist China occupied Tibet in 1950, making India keen on stability in Nepal, to avoid an expansive military campaign.

On April 29, 1949, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) was founded in Calcutta, India. CPN was formed to struggle against the autocratic Rana regime, feudalism and imperialism. The founding general secretary was Pushpa Lal Shrestha.
CPN played an important role in 1951 uprising that overthrew the Rana regime and India sp
onsored Tribhuvan as Nepal's new king. A new government was appointed, mostly comprising the Nepali Congress Party. After years of power wrangling between the king and the government, the democratic experiment was dissolved in 1959, and a "partyless"
Panchayat system was made to govern Nepal.

In ancient times, a Panchayat was a Nepalese public assembly, ideally comprised of the five (pancha) most important caste or occupational groups in the village. A pancha is a member of a panchayat. From 1962 until the 1990 constitution took effect, assemblies modeled on this ancient system formed the backbone of political structure in Nepal, at the village and district levels, and at the top in the National Panchayat, or Rashtriya Panchayat.

In 1989, the "Jan Andolan" (People's) pro-democracy Movement was marked by a unity between the various political parties. Not only did various Communist parties group together in the United Left Front, but they also cooperated with parties such as Nepali Congress. One result of this unity was the formation of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist). Jan Andolan eliminated the Panchayat system and forced King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, ruling the absolute monarchy of Nepal since 1972, to accept large-scale political reforms by creating a parliamentary monarchy, with the king as the head of state and a prime minister as the head of the government. A multiparty system was established in Nepali parliament in May 1991.
Expectations of increased human rights protections, stability and development came with the new political system. The King, formerly an absolute monarch, legalized political parties, after which an interim government promulgated a new Constitution by which the King was retaining important residual powers, but dissociated himself from direct day to day government activities. The democratically elected Parliament consisted of the House of Representatives (lower house) and the National Council (upper house).
Despite some improvements, however, there was little progress in bringing existing legal and administrative provisions fully in line with international standards and principles enshrined in the constitution which set up a parliamentary constitutional monarchy.

In 1994, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was founded and led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, otherwise known as Prachanda. The CPN-M was formed following a split in the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre) and it used the name "CPN (Unity Centre)" until 1995.

On February 13, 1996, the CPN-M alienated from mainstream political parties and started a guerrilla war in the Midwestern region of the country, the “People’s war”, against both monarchy and mainstream political parties, with the main goal of overthrowing feudal institutions, including the monarchy, and establishing a Maoist state.
The rebels were made up of former members of the 1949 Communist Party of Nepal. They were referred to as Maoists because they claimed an ideological legacy from the Chinese Revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.
The Maoists' main demand was an end to the monarchy. They also wanted the expulsion of all Indian influence and an end to discrimination based on the Hindu caste system, ethnicity and gender.

Underdevelopment in areas outside the capital, particularly the mountainous western regions, has fuelled support for the rebels among the poor, who blame the government for failing to address the country's gross inequalities.
The districts in which the Maoists hold sway were among the most inaccessible and impoverished in Nepal. Maoists recruited fighters in the rural poor and illiterate base and train them in working camps. But in general, a wide range of people who face bleak economic prospects, high unemployment rates and inadequate education and healthcare facilities turned in hope to the Maoists' cause.
The upsurge in violence hurt Nepal's economy and deepened political instability.

In 2000, insurgency spread to at least 35 of Nepal’s 75 districts  and grave human rights violations continued, committed both by the Nepalese police force and the CPN-M.

Nepal's stability was threatened even more when King Birendra and most of his family were massacred at a royal dinner on 1 June 2001. His eldest son and heir, Dipendra, was apparently the gunman, in response to his parents' rejection of his choice of wife. He himself died a few days later of gunshot wounds suffered during the massacre. Birendra's brother, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, then became king.
Following the massacre of the royal family, violence escalated and the government brought in the army in addition to national police forces to fight the rebels. On the pretext of quashing the insurgents, the King Gyanendra closed down the parliament and sacked the elected prime minister in 2002 and started ruling through prime ministers appointed by him.
He enhanced military action against guerrillas. CPN-M took under control about two thirds of the Country. Either government repression against rebels and those suspected of supporting them, and Maoist attacks against politicians went on. The new round of violence prompted the use of the army against the rebels for the first time. In late July, the newly-elected Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba ordered an army ceasefire and called for dialogue with the rebels. The rebels agreed to peace talks in August but, by November, had broken the ceasefire and walked out on the talks.  

In 2002 fighting escalated dramatically as government and rebel forces launched frequent attacks which killed over 4,600 people, many of them civilians. About 50,000 Royal Nepal Army soldiers - some equipped with American-made M16s, others with Belgian FNFAL. 762 mm rifles – were opposing the Maoists, numbering between 5,000 and 15,000, widely dispersed in small groups.
Prime Minister Deuba was in turn removed by King Gyanendra, in October 2002, He dissolved Parliament and called for elections.

In 2003
a ceasefire between the government and Maoist rebels held for the first eight months of the year, leading to a decline in conflict-related deaths.
However, due in part to the continued suspension of the democratically-elected government, the rebels withdrew from the ceasefire in August and both sides resumed fighting, resulting in the death of approximately 1,000 soldiers, rebels and civilians in less than five months.
The Maoist rebellion had traditionally been concentrated in the four western districts of Rukum, Rolpa, Salyan and Jajarkot; however, in 2003 the rebels were active in 72 of Nepal’s 75 administrative districts.
Heavily criticized for human rights abuses, the Maoists were said to have imposed an increasingly authoritarian regime on many parts of rural Nepal, regularly abducting civilians and often forcing at least one person from each family to join them.


In 2004
mass strikes, riots, kidnappings, blockades, terrorist bombings and major clashes between Maoist rebels and government security forces contributed to the conflict, resulting in thousands of deaths. Thousands more were injured and hundreds of thousands remained displaced.
A government ambush of Maoists in March involved thousands of soldiers and resulted in hundreds of deaths. Rebels blockaded the capital of Kathmandu several times including a major blockade that almost entirely halted the flow of goods and people in and out of the city for several days. The King of Nepal controlled the government while opposition parties and donor agencies pushed for the restoration of democracy.
Maoist attacks on development and infrastructure projects resulted in millions of dollars in damages. Several big businesses in Nepal shut after facing threats from the rebels. Nepali royal family and American and Indian investors had stakes in some of the businesses targeted by the rebels, so India was also worried at increasing rebel attacks on Indian businesses in Nepal.
Nepal Prime Minister Deuba seeked Indian understanding, cooperation and assistance in tackling the deadly Maoist insurgency, called by him “terrorism”.
In the past, India had supplied Nepal with helicopters, trucks as well as arms and ammunition. Deuba also asked India to stop the Maoists from using Indian territory for shelter, training and supplies.

RECENT STATUS OF FIGHTING
In 2005, intense fighting between Maoist rebels and government troops throughout the year resulted in over 1,500 deaths on both sides. Human rights violations and the use of child soldiers by the rebels and the government continued. Thousands of people were arrested in a year-long crackdown by the government. On February 1, 2005, the King
unilaterally declared a state of emergency, took over all executive powers of the government to establish an absolute monarchy, being in firm control of the military. He enforced martial law and argued that civil politicians were unfit to handle the Maoist insurgency. Telephone lines were cut and several high-profile political leaders were detained. Other opposition leaders fled to India and regrouped there. A broad alliance against the royal takeover called the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) was organized, encompassing about 90% of the seats in the old, dissolved parliament.

At the time, the government security forces consisted of the Armed Police Force and the Royal Nepalese Army, both having been heavily criticized for their alleged disregard for human rights. In three years the Royal Nepalese Army had nearly doubled its strength from roughly 45,000 troops to 80,000.

Violent local militias armed by the government were increasingly involved in violent attacks on suspected rebels and suspected sympathizers, while rebels controlled much of the countryside. Senior military officers said there were between 2,000 and 4,000 well-trained Maoist fighters, known as the movement's ‘hard core’. Another 12,000-14,000 so called ‘militia’ fight alongside them. In July 2006, a Maoist commander was quoted in local media as saying there were 36,000 fighters.
Though the rebels were active in 72 of Nepal’s 75 administrative districts, according to diplomats, they did not threaten the survival of the government, which was always controlling the major towns and cities.

In September 2005, fighting decreased following a four-month unilateral ceasefire declaration by the CPN-M which was not reciprocated by the royal government.
On November 22, 2005, a joint CPN-M / SPA conference in Delhi, India, issued a 12-point understanding in opposition to the monarchy. Within the framework of that understanding, Maoists committed themselves to multiparty democracy and freedom of speech. SPA, for their part, accepted the Maoist demand for elections to a Constituent Assembly. Maoist and SPA together arranged a mass uprising against the reign of King Gyanendra. Frustrated by lack of security, jobs and good governance, thousands of people took to the streets to demand that the king renounce power outright, but the royal government turned even more ferocious and continued its suppression including daytime curfews amid a Maoist blockade. Thousands were injured and 21 people died in the uprising. Food shortages took effect. The security forces turned brutal while foreign pressure continued to increase on King Gyanendra to surrender power.
These
political agitations against the rule of King Gyanendra were called Loktantra Andolan (Democracy Movement), also sometimes referred to as Jana Andolan-II (People's Movement-II), implying it being a continuation of the 1990 Jana Andolan.

At the beginning of 2006, the situation became yet more tense as SPA launched agitation programmes around the country. On January 16, a night curfew was imposed in the capital, Kathmandu, to avoid demonstrations and strikes against the king. The police fired at protestors, and arrested many of them, including leaders of the opposition. The agitations reached a peak around the February 8 municipal elections, which were boycotted by the SPA and the Maoists. In total, official figures claimed a participation of about 21% but opposition sources questioned those claims.
SPA called for a four-day nationwide general strike between April 5-9, 2006. The Maoists called for a cease-fire in the Kathmandu valley. The general strike saw numerous protests. A curfew was announced by the government on April 8, with reported orders to shoot protestors on sight. Despite this, small, disorganized protests continued.
On April 9, SPA announced that it intended to continue its protests indefinitely and called for a tax boycott. The government announced plans to step up its enforcement of the curfew and claimed that the Maoists had infiltrated the protests. Prachanda, the leader of the CPN, had said that "this is no longer a protest by opposition parties ... it has become a people's movement," and warned that he himself could lead a revolt in the capital.

For four weeks,
large pro-democracy demonstrations, general strikes and rebel blockades shut down the capital Kathmandu on multiple occasions. Clashes between security forces and thousands of anti-royalists occurred on a daily basis, with crowds increasing to sizes estimated at 100,000 to 200,000 in Kathmandu in various estimates, more than 10% of the city population. At least 16 people were shot dead, dozens were injured, and hundreds were arrested. Any offers for talks by King Gyanendra were rejected.

On April 21, 2006, a crowd extimated from 300,000 to about half a million took part in the protests in Kathmandu.
Later the same evening, King Gyanendra announced that he was giving up absolute power and that "Power was being returned to the People". He appointed former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala of the Nepali Congress Party prime minister once more. Both the U.S. and India immediately called on the SPA to accept this new situation. Koirala formed a coalition called the People’s Government and annulled all appointments made by King Gyanendra since October 2002, with the intention to hold elections as soon as possible.
Many Nepalese protesters, however, still carried out rallies in numerous cities. Maoists stated that merely restoring the parliament was not going to resolve the problems and that the rebels planned to continue fighting against government forces until they would achieve the formation of a Constituent Assembly and the complete abolition of the monarchy. The SPA felt the pressure of these protests as some took place directly outside the deliberations of Gyanendra's offer.
Finally after 19 days of tumultuous protests, on April 24 midnight, the King
reinstated the old Nepal House of Representatives and called it to reassemble on April 28. Then Maoists agreed to new Prime Minister Koirala’s appeal to lift city blockades and few days later a truce offered by the government came into force. On June 13, the government began releasing rebels detained under the antiterrorist law introduced in 1998.

The most dramatic move of the new government came on May 18, 2006 when the newly resumed House of Representatives unanimously used its newly acquired sovereign authority to curtail the power of the king and declared Nepal a secular state. Parliament stripped the king of his power over the military, abolished his title as the descendent of a Hindu God, and required royalty to pay taxes. Furthermore, several royal officials have been indicted, and the Nepalese government is no longer referred to as "His Majesty's Government", but rather as the "Government of Nepal". An election of the constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution was declared unanimously to be held in the near future, with the possible abolition of the monarchy as part of constitutional change.
The bill included:

Putting 90,000 troops in the hands of the parliament
Placing a tax on the royal family and its assets
Ending the Raj Parishad, a royal advisory council
Eliminating royal references from army and government titles
Declaring Nepal a secular country, not a Hindu Kingdom
Scrapping the king's position as the supreme commander of the Army

The act overrides the 1990 Constitution, written up following the Jana Andolan and has been described as a Nepalese Magna Carta. 
According to Prime Minister Koirala, "This proclamation represents the feelings of all the people."

May 18 has already been named Loktantrik Day (Democracy Day) by some.

Following Gyanendra's relinquishing of absolute power, the Nepalese government and CPN-M rebels agreed on a ceasefire.

In August 2006, both parties came to an agreement on the issue of arms accountability: the rebels and their arms were to be confined to camps while government troops would be stationed in their barracks. The U.N. was requested to monitor both.
The UN Secretary-General decided to appoint Ian Martin ( United Kingdom) as his Personal Representative in Nepal for support to the peace process.
A lasting peace finally seemed within reach in early November when the two sides resolved the thorny issue of what the rebels would do with their weapons.
Under the pact, the Maoists agreed to put their arms under U.N. supervision, clearing a key hurdle for the guerrillas to join the interim government.
On November 21, 2006, peace talks ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) between Prime Minister Koirala and Maoist leader Prachanda.
This formally ended the Nepalese Civil War, which claimed more than 13,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people to avoid violence and abuse. At least 900 people disappeared after they were detained by the security forces while the CPN-M is responsible for several hundreds of killings, abductions and torture of people seen as opposed to their cause.

On January 14, 2007, SPA and CPN-M served together in an interim legislature under the new Interim Constitution of Nepal awaiting elections in June 2007 to a Constituent Assembly, while all the powers of the Nepali King were in abeyance.
The new 330-seat parliament was sworn-in. The Maoists made up the second-biggest party in the new body with 83 seats.
The deal was widely viewed as a victory for peace and democracy in one of the world's poorest countries.  Analysts said their entry into their parliamentary system signalled their commitment to abandon their insurgency and participate in democratic politics.
Following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the United Nations received a request for assistance, and established the political mission United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) on 23 January 2007, to monitor the disarmament of Maoist rebels and sent an advance group of up to 35 military monitors and a team of up to 25 election experts to help with the 2007 poll for Constituent Assembly elections in 2007. Later the UNMIN included a team of 186 military monitors.

STATUS OF FIGHTING AT PRESENT DAY
An outbreak of violence in January 2007 cast a shadow over the peace process, as the
Madhesi (or Madhesay) movement in the southern plains region called Terai demanded to end discrimination against the ethnic Madhesi people. Violent protests erupted at which Madhesi protestors called for greater representation in government and the peace process.  Clashes between police and demonstrators and attacks on government facilities in at least 10 districts resulted in the death of over 30 people and some towns were put under curfew.
A Nepali minister from the ethnic Madhesi community resigned, accusing the ruling alliance of neglecting Madhesi grievances. Madhesi leaders were angry after parliament passed the Interim Constitution that did not meet their demands for federalism and proportional representation.
They warned that, if the unrest continued, the military might intervene and wider communal conflict could break out, threatening the peace process. Aid agencies said the clashes and curfews were stopping people accessing health services, and called on those involved to allow humanitarian workers to operate freely.

Jwala Singh
(real name Nagendra Paswan), leader of the breakaway Democratic Terai Liberation Front (
in Nepali language Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha or JTMM), said he was ready for talks with the government. He also demanded the Madhesi to be allowed to run themselves the army, police and the local administration of Nepal's fertile southern plains bordering India. Prime Minister Koirala, in an address to the nation on February 7, 2007, promised to amend the constitution to meet the demands of the Terai people.

The Madhesi, roughly a third of Nepal's population, are ethnically and culturally closer to people from neighbouring Indian states than Nepalis from the hills and say they are discriminated against in parliament and the security forces, having always been largely excluded from political power and representation. They live in a fertile border strip, and are the ethnic majority in the area, which is home to almost half the country's population of 26 million.

Read a History of Terai in on Madhesi Wordpress, from a Madhesi point of view.

Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha was a revolutionary organisation in Nepal. It was formed in 2004 by former Maoist Leader Jay Krishna Goit as a split from the CPN-M. The group accused the CPN-M of not guaranteeing the autonomy of the Terai region. In August 2005, several of its leading members were killed in fight with the CPN-M. In July 2006, it was accused of killing two CPN-M members in a gunfight . The CPN-M followed this incident by declaring an armed war with the group, claiming that they had ignored calls for peace talks and that there were royalist elements in the JTMM.

Clashes among pro-royalists, Maoist former rebels, Madhesi People's Rights Forum for regional autonomy and other parties broke out in the first part of 2007, showing how long was the way for democracy to take root in Nepal. Scores of people died in the region in violence by ethnic Madhesi groups indicating that an agreement between the government and the main Madhesi group would not end the unrest in the region unless other rebel groups were also brought into the mainstream.

Mr Ian Martin, U.N. Secretary-General's representative to the Nepal's peace process, warned that the violence could also delay elections due to be held in June 2007 for a special assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution and deciding on the monarchy's future.
U.N. human rights monitors also hoped to promote a criminal justice system that would be accessible to all, including lower castes, women, survivors of sexual violence and the rural poor. But little progress has been made on how to deal with crimes perpetrated during the conflict.
Another key unanswered question is the role - if any - of the monarchy in the future political landscape. The Maoists have softened their demand for its abolition, saying they will accept the decision of the Nepalese people. Washington and other Western governments backed away from their previous support for the king after he became increasingly autocratic, indicating that he should play little more than a ceremonial role.
The return to multi-party democracy may not produce a stable government.

On April 1, 2007, a new eight-party government was sworn in, with five ministers from CPN-M. The Maoists were placed in charge of the ministries of information, local development, planning and works, forestry, and women and children. But on September 18, 2007, the CPN-M ministers resigned from the government due to the rejection of its demands, which included the declaration of a republic prior to the Constituent Assembly election planned for November and an electoral system of proportional representation.

On September 30, 200
7, three near-simultaneous bomb blasts killed two women and wounded 26 people in Kathmandu. It was the first attack in the Nepali capital since the end of the Maoist revolt. The Terai Army, one of several ethnic Madhesi rebel groups, as well as the previously unheard of Terai Utthan Sangat, claimed responsibility for the attacks in calls to local media. The claims could not be verified independently.
On November 20, 2007, figures compiled by the NGO HimRights show that a total of 82 persons were killed by rebel groups, Maoists and state forces in the 10 districts of the eastern and central Terai over a five-month period.  Amnesty International expressed concern over the indefinite postponement of the elections to a Constituent Assembly (CA) which will write a new constitution and confirm the country as a republic after centuries of royal rule. As a result of the international pressure, Nepal's government set 10 April 2008 as the date for the elections.

In the meanwhile, human Rights violations, killing, abduction, kidnap for ransom and vandalizing activities were observed throughout the country, but especially in the eastern part of Terai, making the whole region unstable. Some of the armed groups to function in the region were JTTM (G), JTTM (JS), Madhesi Tiger, Terai Army and various other unidentified groups.  Even though the functioning armed groups were claiming their activity for liberation and rights of the Madhesis, the nature of their work was considered criminal.
Even cadres of Maoists (YCL) continued their acts of abduction, torture and vandalisation.

In February 2008 at least two people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes with police during a strike that closed roads, factories, schools and shops in the Terai and hindered supplies of fuel travelling from India to the hills.  As the strike didn't stop, Nepal's government agreed to give autonomy to its southern plains and other regions after the forthcoming national election.

HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights violations by both the government security forces and CPN-M members have been reported during the conflict on a daily basis in 27 of 75 districts. The Maoist insurrection has been waged through torture, killings, and bombings involving civilians and public officials.
The rebels used guerrilla tactics such as ambushes and bombing. According to the Ban Landmine Campaign Nepal, both the army and the Maoists have been using landmines, which have victimised civilians more than the combatants.  

Both the rebels and security forces targeted civilians; the rebels attacking those deemed “enemies of the people”, including politicians and teachers, and government forces targeting those perceived to be supportive of the Maoist cause.
A government initiative to create civil defence groups to fight the Maoists threatened to further draw the civilian population into the conflict.

Aside from civilian casualties, the conflict also produced a significant number of both internally and externally displaced persons. During the second half of 2003, media reported some 200,000 displaced in urban areas across the country with 100,000 IDPs (Internally Displaced People) in Kathmandu alone. If one includes those who have fled to India, the total number of people displaced, directly or indirectly, by the conflict could grow to as many as two million people.
IDPs include former land-owners, political party members and families who have left their villages in search of work after the war destroyed their livelihoods.
According to the United Nations, some highland villages have lost up to 80 percent of their population with only vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, left behind.
Nepal is also home to refugees from other countries. The U.N. refugee body, UNHCR, says about 105,000 Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugees live in camps in Nepal, having been stripped of their nationality and expelled from Bhutan in the early 1990s.
There are also about 20,000 Tibetan refugees.

Both the CPN-M and the Royal Nepalese Army have involved children as young as 14, including girls.
CWIN (Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre) estimated that 405 children under 18, including 115 girls, have been killed in the conflict so far.
UNICEF has also received reports of Maoists using children as cooks and porters near the frontline.
On a trip to the Maoist heartland in 2005, a Reuters team saw children scarcely older than 10 lugging rifles, members of a Maoist militia.
According to UNICEF, thousands of children remain missing.

The conflict has severely disrupted the education system, UNICEF said. Maoists have killed and threatened teachers, and kidnapped thousands of school-children.
The fighting has also hampered the government's ability to deliver even basic healthcare. Half of all children under the age of five are underweight, according to the U.N. Development Programme.


NEPAL'S CONSTITUTIONAL PROCESS
Nepal’s constitution-making process must conclusively end the conflict and also shape more representative and responsive state structures.
But political leaders must make the constitutional process more inclusive or risk a return to violent conflict.
The major challenge is to maintain leadership-level consensus while building a broad-based and inclusive process that limits room for spoilers and ensures long-term popular legitimacy. So far, the concentration has been on building elite consensus at the expense of intense political debate and extensive public consultation.
Recent violent protests show that providing constructive means to channel popular demands into political debate is not an abstract consideration but an urgent practical imperative.
The new constitution’s drafting process must address the twin objectives of peace-building and long-term political reform. The interim constitution of 15 January 2007 established a framework for constitutional change – through an elected constituent assembly – and enshrined the guiding principles agreed in earlier negotiations.
Mainstream political parties will remain key actors, especially if they seize this opportunity to increase their inclusiveness, promote internal democracy and tackle the worst excesses of corruption and patronage. The Maoists were a driving force for a constituent assembly, but they now have to translate the achievement of this goal into votes and prove that their movement can adapt itself to democratic rules. Other political parties, civil society and the international community should maintain pressure on them to keep their promise to abandon violence.
Even a successful constitutional assembly, which should be elected at the end of 2007, cannot in itself resolve the social and political conflicts that fuelled the Maoist CPN insurgency. In facts, although the 10-year civil conflict has ended, there are widespread law and order problems, many of them political.

However, the constitution-making process is an opportunity both to reshape the state and encourage reform of the political parties that will have to consolidate democracy and prevent a return to violent conflict.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE COUNTRY
In May 2006, Dutch development agency SNV and French NGO Action Contre la Faim warned of a growing food crisis in remote districts of impoverished Karnali province in the northwest, caused by a severe drought.
Development experts told a December 2005 workshop hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Nepal Press Institute that, while Nepal was on track to half the number of people living below the poverty line from 42 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2015, its progress was fragile.
According to the United Nations, the conflict cut the growth rate to 2 percent in 2004-05, but the return to peace - if it lasts - could help boost tourism and wider economic growth.
Tackling growing inequalities between social groups is seen as a key challenge for the development community in Nepal. Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada, Executive Director of the Nepal Rasta Bank, told the UNDP seminar: "Unless we look at inequality, social conflict may remain forever, even though the armed conflict may end."
With regard to the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations has said Nepal is likely to meet targets for cutting infant death rates and increasing access to safe drinking water, but could miss targets on education and stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In May 2007, a senior finance ministry official said the country would need around $1.2 billion for post-conflict reconstruction, and appealed to the international community for help. According to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Nepal received $427 million in overseas aid in 2004 - 60 percent of which was earmarked for education, health and other social sectors.
Population pressure on natural resources is increasing. Overpopulation is already straining the "carrying capacity" of the middle hill areas, particularly the Kathmandu Valley, resulting in the depletion of forest cover for crops, fuel and fodder, and contributing to erosion and flooding. Additionally, water supplies within the Kathmandu Valley are not considered safe for consumption, and disease outbreaks are not uncommon. Progress has been achieved in education, health, and infrastructure. A countrywide primary education system is under development, and Tribhuvan University has several campuses. Although eradication efforts continue, malaria has been controlled in the fertile but previously uninhabitable Terai region in the south. Kathmandu is linked to India and nearby hill regions by an expanding highway network.

On January 2008, the state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), which has a monopoly over oil imports, had increased kerosene, cooking gas and diesel prices by up to 20 percent. It was the second price rise since October. Nepal buys about 800,000 tonnes of oil annually, accounting for about 10 percent of its energy needs, but it faced shortages because of lack of money to pay for imports. NOC needed to raise the prices to cut its losses and attempt to minimise fuel shortages, but even to help pay bills worth millions of dollars to India's state-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the sole supplier of oil to Nepal.
The move was greeted with nationwide protests from student activists which caused two days of disruption across the country. In Kathmandu, protesters had blocked many roads and blackened the sky by burning logs and tyres, till NOC withdraw the increase.

LOCAL e-news
Kantipur


SOURCES
Alertnet
Amnesty International
BBCnews
CIA The World Factbook
HIIK - Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research

HimRights - Himalayan Human Rights Monitors
ICG - International Crisis Group

IRIN - Integrated Regional Information Networks
PeaceReporter

Project Ploughshares

Reuters
UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
US Department of State

Warnews
Wikipedia
 

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Nepal has a total population of 28,901,790 as of July 2007, with a growth rate of 2.13%.

Ethnic groups
2001 census: Chhettri 15.5%
Brahman-Hill 12.5%
Magar 7%
Tharu 6.6%
Tamang 5.5%
Newar 5.4%
Kami 3.9%
Yadav 3.9%
other 32.7%
unspecified 2.8%

Nepali is the official language with 47.8% of the population speaking it as their first language.

Religions
2001 census: Hindus 80.6%
Buddhists 10.7%
Muslims 4.2
Kirant 3.6
other religions 0.9%
.

Life expectancy is 60.56 years.  62% of the population is up to 14 years old, being the median age less than 21.
Nepal is the only country in the world where males outlive females.

Total literacy rate (2001 census) is 48.6% (62.7% for males and 34.9% for females).

Demographic data from 2007 CIA World Factbook

Economy: Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with almost one-third of its population living below the poverty line. (CIA) 

GDP (PPP)(2006 est.)(CIA)
- Total $41.18 billion
-
Per capita $1,500
- Grow rate 1.9%

Gini coefficient 37.7-47.2 (high)(CIA 2004/05-UN 2003/04)

HDI 0.527 (138th) (UNDP 2006)

Poverty
68.5% of the population live on less than $2 per day
(UNDP 2006)

30.9% of the population live below national poverty line (UNDP 2006)

Unemploy-ment rate 42% (2004 est.)(CIA)

Child labour 31% (5-14 year olds) (1999-2004) (UNICEF)

Under-five mortality rate 76‰ (UNDP 2006)

Military ex-penditures 1.6% of GDP (2006)(CIA)
Nepal's military consists of the nearly 95,000-strong Nepalese Army (NA), which is organized into six divisions (Far-Western, Mid-Western, Western, Central, Eastern, and Valley Divisions) with separate Aviation, Parachute, and Security Brigades as well as brigade-sized directorates encompa-ssing air defense, artillery, engineers, logistics, and signals which provide general support to the NA. The Prime Minister is the Supreme Commander of the NA.
(US Dep of State)

Sources
CIA Factbook
UNICEF
UNDP
US Dep State

Siddhartha Gautama

King Prithvi Narayan Shah

King Jang Bahadur

King George V of Windsor

King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah

King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev

King Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah

King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev

Prachanda

Sher Bahadur Deuba

Girija Prasad Koirala

Ian Martin

Jay Krishna Goit

Jwala Singh