Academic journal article Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Reengineering of Local Governance in the Post-Conflict Situation in Nepal

Academic journal article Contributions to Nepalese Studies

Reengineering of Local Governance in the Post-Conflict Situation in Nepal

Article excerpt

Background

This article is based on my empirical research carried out in the Nepalese political setting while the country was undergoing a serious political power struggle and armed conflict (2002-2005). It is a qualitative research carried out in the context of local governance system and practices. The field work was carried out in Kavre-Palanchowk district, Nepal as a case study. A case study analysis of the district of Kavre-Palanchowk in Nepal focuses on the relationships between local and central government and between local communities and local governments. On this basis, recommendations with relevance to Nepalese policy-making and governance more generally are developed.

The research explores and analyses a number of critical issues within the broader theoretical framework of the research (i.e. power and participation). It explores the existing local governance practices from the perspective of democratic participation of citizens while power and participation provide the theoretical framework. Here power is understood and defined as political power that is generated through political representation and the stake in the governance processes. The research also explores the contradictory aspects of representative democracy at the local level and participatory planning (which entails the principle of participatory democracy) as well as the implications of these contradictions in the overall local governance practices.

After the completion of the research Nepalese politics has undergone a lot of upheavals. The King gave up control over the reins of political power by re-instating the Parliament (April, 2006) and the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-Maoist) declared an end to the 'People's War' (Jana Yuddha) and CPN-Maoist is in the process of joining competitive politics. Standing on the key theoretical findings of the research (2005) outlined above, this article examines the application of representative democracy in the current political context of Nepal (April, 2006-February, 2007) (1) in the light of sharing power through broader stakeholders' participation and inclusiveness, and opportunities for bringing the government closer to the citizens, thereby increasing popular participation in day-to-day governance activities.

This article discusses the key findings of the research relating with the changing political contexts and emerging key governance issues. At the end, the article recommends key strategies for mitigating political conflicts and promoting grassroots democracy through local governance practices in the changed political context of Nepal, where CPN (Maoist) is also in the process of becoming a part of mainstream competitive politics. The major questions discussed in the paper are:

1. What are the reasons behind the demand for participatory democracy in Nepal?

2. What are the critical factors to be considered while designing the local governance system in order to achieve the objectives of sustaining peace and strengthening participatory democracy at the local level?

Thus the paper builds in and around searching answers to these questions. The subsequent sections deal with each question accordingly.

The Context and Relevance

This section deals with the first question: 'What are the reasons behind the demand for participatory democracy in Nepal? The discussion starts with the current political context of Nepal and also the growing issue of identity politics, which is challenging the ideology-based party politics.

Peoples' Pro-Democracy Movement-II, 2006

Continuously defying the curfew, millions of aggressive Nepalese in the streets of Kathmandu and district headquarters protested to end the King's autocratic rule and demand long lasting peace and more democratic rights to the people through an overarching political agenda--the constituent assembly'. About two dozen people lost their lives during the political movement, which is popularly known as Jana Andolan II (pro-democracy movement II). …

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