Nepal’s legislature voted overwhelmingly to abolish the country’s 239-year-old Hindu monarchy and establish a republic. The newly elected Constituent Assembly is led by former Maoist rebels who dominated elections last month. The assembly gave King Gyanendra 15 days to vacate his main Katmandu palace, which will be turned into a national museum. Nepal was the last remaining Hindu kingdom. (AP in International Herald Tribune)
What the commentators said
“The collapse of a royal dynasty is a rare event,” said Britain’s The Daily Telegraph in an editorial. And while this newspaper is pro-monarchy, it’s “hard to feel much sympathy for the House of Shah,” which was so inept that it lost “power through the ballot box” to Maoist guerrillas known for “terror and extortion.” Maybe the rebels will do a better job.
The Maoists' war caused “untold physical and psychological damage,” said the journal Nepal Monitor in an editorial. But though the Maoists’ means were “undemocratic,” they deserve the credit for pushing Nepal into becoming a republic. Now the real work begins, starting with economic development. “Abstract ideas of ‘federalism’ and ‘republicanism’ will mean nothing” to Nepalis if they can’t eat.
Nepal can “thrive,” said Gina Cobb in her eponymous blog, if it “emulates the democracy, economic freedom, and protection of individual liberty” found in the U.S., Japan, and other successful democracies. “But if Nepal simply trades rule by monarchy for rule by Maoist autocrats, the poverty of its people will continue and will probably worsen.”
Any progress will require “consensus,” said Govind Talwalkar in India’s The Asian Age. But don’t hold your breath. The Maoists and Nepal’s historically “bankrupt and quarrelsome” political parties don’t seem "mentally and emotionally attuned” for the tough and necessary negotiations about how to structure the government and whether to integrate the rebels into the army.