By Gopal Khanal (KATHMANDU, 11 February 2021) – The Prachanda-Nepal fraction of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has called upon the international community and immediate neighbours– India and China– to extend their support to its ongoing street protests against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s move of the dissolution of House of Representatives (HoR). At a press meet organised in Kathmandu Tuesday, Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal, openly sought the intervention of foreign nations, which amounts to the blatant act of inviting external meddling in the domestic affairs of the country. Prachanda’s call for foreign meddling deserves strong condemnation from all sections of populace who stand against the unsolicited role of external elements in the internal affairs of Nepal.
“We have conveyed to the international community that Oli’s move has resulted in the demise of democracy and we seek support from the international community including India, China, European Union and the US to protect hard-earned federalism and democracy,” said Prachanda during an interaction with some representatives of Kathmandu-based international media.
According to Prachanda, the HoR must be reinstated to consolidate federalism and republican set-up, and take the peace process to logical conclusion. This is first formal appeal to the external community to intervene in the very domestic affairs of Nepal. It gives an impression that leaders Prachanda and Nepal have no faith in themselves as well as in the strength of Nepali people. This is a reason why they are urging the foreign powers to fix domestic issues.
Terming the Prime Minister Oli’s announcement of mid-term polls as ‘undemocratic’, former prime ministers Prachanda and Nepal have been trying to muster the support of international community, but it has shown a sense of apathy towards the factional appeal of an NCP group. It has become clear that Prachanda and Nepal were fighting for their vested interests trying to oust Oli as the PM and party chair. As they failed to unseat Oli from the power through the instrument of parliament and party, they hit the streets carrying placards that read: ‘We are here’. They have launched an artificial campaign against Prime Minister Oli and are trying to sell illusions, but people are not convinced by their fabricated stories.
The Prachanda-Nepal faction has termed HoR dissolution and announcement of fresh polls as a ‘coup’ against the constitution and democracy. This allegation is not true. It is neither unconstitutional and undemocratic, nor is it against the parliamentary practices. Election is the key to boosting functional democracy.
India, China and the US have made public their official stance on the HoR dissolution saying that it is internal issue of Nepal and expressed their confidence that the internal crisis would be resolved internally through democratic dialogue. China has formally said it was a domestic issue of Nepal and Nepal’s parties will solve the problem domestically. It was the first formal comment of Beijing. The second comment of China came on 8 February 2021, urging Nepali political parties to maintain unity and stability for its own development and prosperity.
“As a friendly neighbour, China hopes that all parties and factions in Nepal will bear in mind the fundamental and long-term interests of the country and its people, seek common ground while shelving differences, and maintain unity and stability, so as to create favourable environment for its own development and prosperity,” reads Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement issued in the context of a recent telephone conversation between Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. On 5 February 2021, Chinese minister announced that China would provide 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal under grant assistance. Previously, the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu had conveyed that China would provide 300,000 doses of vaccines, but later FM increased the vaccine doses upon the request from the Nepali side.
Wang said that China adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and respects the development path chosen by the Nepali People. It is true that China wants to see the unified and strong communist party in Nepal and it has been upset by the split in the NCP. India has said the dissolution of HoR and declaration of mid-term polls is domestic issue of Nepal and Nepali parties should solve their problems internally. The US has similar response like India. India, China and the US can speak on the bilateral, multilateral and global issues, but cannot intervene in the very domestic affairs of Nepal.
When US President Joe Biden spoke to Indian Prime Minister Modi over telephone on 9 February, the former emphasised that his desire was to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world. ‘The President underscored his desire to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world and noted that a shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the US-India relationship’, the White House statement said.
The White House said the two leaders are committed to a rule-based international order. ”We look forward to consolidating our strategic partnership to further peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. The leaders agreed to continuing close cooperation to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, including support for freedom of navigation, territorial integrity, and a stronger regional architecture through the QUAD.”
The MEA statement also noted that they ‘reiterated the importance of working with like-minded countries to ensure a rule-based international order and a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.’ While mentioning about global issues on the agenda, the White House singled out Myanmar, where protests have broken out after the military coup. ‘They further resolved that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld in Burma’, MEA said.
Nepal’s situation is different from Myanmar. Prime Minister Oli is not a military ruler. Oli’s democratic credentials can hardly be challenged by those leaders, whose political legacy can be questioned. Nepal is practicing functional democracy and democratic institutions are exercising their autonomy without hindrance. Therefore, Prachanda’s appeal to foreign intervention simply undermines Nepal’s sovereignty, constitution and democracy, which needs to be dismissed in the strongest terms.