Prime Minister of Nepal
It has been almost ten months since I took over as Prime Minister of the country. In my view it was a very crucial time in the political history of Nepal. I began my office with four priorities. First was to conclude the peace process; second was to provide all cooperation to the Constituent Assembly and create conducive environment for constitution writing, third was to set agenda and create environment for the economic prosperity and last but not the least was to promote good governance as a cross cutting issue for the realization of all above mentioned three priorities. The economic development was emphasized as a foundation for peace and stability in the country.
I wish to reaffirm that foreign policy of Nepal is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter, the ideals of non-alignment, peaceful coexistence, international law and practices and the importance of global peace. We have been a long standing partner of the United Nations in its peacekeeping missions worldwide. Our commitment toward world peace is unabated. We believe in the sovereign equality of all states. We wish to cultivate friendship and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.
We are fully aware of the rapid economic growth observed in the neighbouring countries in the recent decades. We believe that it has opened up new avenues of cooperation among us. We aspire to be a dynamic economic link between the two largest and fastest growing economies of Asia in our neighborhood. As a landlocked and least developed country, we have certain inherent structural challenges. We would like to turn those challenges into new opportunities for long awaited prosperity of the people of Nepal.
Immediately after the formation of the government, our attention was drawn to the conclusion of peace process, which had been taken by other political parties as a hurdle for constitution writing. It was our firm belief that integration into Nepal Army and rehabilitation of the Maoist Army combatants was nothing to do with the contentious issues of constitution writing but the senior leaders of the major political parties persistently argued that the management of Maoist Army is a precondition for even to initiate the dialogue on the outstanding issues of making the new constitution.
You have amply witnessed how our drive in the peace process, characterized by several bold and accommodating steps on the part of the government led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), had achieved breakthrough in the rehabilitation and integration of Maoist Army combatants. As the chief executive, my sole attempt has always been to forge political consensus on major issues and I am happy that our genuine effort bore fruit in this crucial matter. The process of the management of the Maoist Army combatants, in terms of both integrating some of them into the Nepal Army and voluntary retirement of the rest into the social life progressed in a faster pace than speculated by the opposition parties. I thank all partners who have been forthcoming to contribute in this process.
It is a matter of great dismay for us that when the Maoist Army and weapons were handed over to the Nepal Army for integration same political forces started creating hurdles in making the constitution. Despite the utmost and honest effort put on and maximum flexibility shown from our side, some political forces remained adamant not to accommodate the issues and aspirations of Janajaties, Madhesis, Dalits, oppressed class people and people from backward regions. The Constitution without addressing the issues and concerns of the Dalits, Janajaties, Madhesis and people of oppressed class was simply not possible. Major contentious issues remained unresolved till the last day of the extended tenure of the Constituent Assembly. The talks finally collapsed on the vexed issue of identity-based federalism which the traditional parliamentary parties were not prepared to accept. The ruling coalition partners were even ready to go for formal democratic process in the CA but the political parties outside the government did not allow such formal process to resolve the outstanding issues. Further, we were unable to extend the CA due to the stricture issued by the Supreme Court of Nepal.
It is in this context that the Government decided to go for election of new Constituent Assembly on November 22 this year as the tenure of CA automatically expired on May 27. Those believing in democracy cannot oppose the process of seeking people’s mandate through elections. However, we believe that political consensus among major parties is essential for holding election by the given date. The government is ready to shoulder the responsibility of creating conducive environment for the national consensus on all major issues.
Peace and democracy are not sustainable without economic development and prosperity. While talking of the economic agenda, the recently established Board of Investment is one of the initiatives taken by the present government to augment investment and to provide one window service to the domestic and foreign investors. Declaration of the Investment year 2012-2013, designation of the Visit Lumbini Year 2012, identification of projects of National Pride, and recent decision to bring in certain high priority projects under the ambit of BOI are among the few initiatives that the government has undertaken for the rapid economic growth. Unless we have fast rate of economic growth we would just distribute poverty, not prosperity. Present government is also planning to convene an Economic Summit in the near future. Implementation of the 'Hello Government' mechanism for grievance redressal and live radio interaction of the Prime Minister with the common people every month are few more examples of responsive government. Nonetheless, these instruments alone hardly mean anything if life is not blown into them by the very human beings who have to work for and through these instruments. Needless to say, instruments, environment and human resources should go in tandem.
Moreover, the government believes that bilateral investment promotion measures and instruments adopted to ensure the smooth flow of investment into the country in priority sectors like hydropower, tourism, physical and social infrastructure etc, are very crucial for rapid economic transformation. My government is determined to do what it takes to bring about economic prosperity in Nepal that could be enjoyed by all Nepalese with human dignity and national pride. Protection and promotion of human rights has, of course, always been at the core of this determination. The international community is fully aware of the tremendous difficulties we have had to surmount in the present juncture of our history. I believe most countries in the west and east have had to pass through such challenging phases in their history. It is like the labor pain one has to go through before a child birth.
Apparently, what helps in the process is neither oversimplifying nor overdramatizing the complex situation we are passing through. When we look at the overall peace process now, we understand that we have performed a miraculous feat. This is not the time to remain complacent, however. There remain numerous unfinished tasks, like the writing of the new constitution through the new Constituent Assembly, which we must achieve at any cost.
I take this opportunity to share with you that the coalition government led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), will leave no stone unturned in seeking to reach a consensus so that the election could be held within the stipulated time. We are trying to reach a consensus on forming a national unity government before the elections, to sort out certain legal hurdles and to create an environment of trust among major stakes holders. I assure you that this is only a temporary phenomenon since the political parties have no option but to rise to the occasion and come to a collective wisdom to move the country forward, sooner than later. I am confident, Excellencies, that you and the great countries you represent will be with us to continue to help us at this challenging time.
I can assure you, the hard gained peace process will remain irreversible. Democracy and constitutional path will remain safe. In this vein, I request you to convey this message to all your respective esteemed governments for continued understanding, and support for building a prosperous new Nepal. We are more than optimistic about the prospects that there will be a positive turn of events soon and confident about our success ahead, and sincerely look forward to continue to working with you.
(Rt. Hon'ble Prime Minister's Breakfast briefing for the heads of the diplomatic missions in Kathmandu, June 11, 2012)