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Politics of Nepal

Nepal is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic, parliamentary form of government that is multiethnic, multilingual, Hindu, and retains the king in the role of head of state. The former "partyless" panchayat system of government was abolished in April 1990.

The 1994 election defeat of the Nepali Congress Party[?] by the UML made Nepal the world's first communist monarchy[?], with Man Mohan Adhikary[?] prime minister. In mid-1994, the Parliament was dissolved due to dissension within the Nepali Congress Party. The subsequent general election, held November 15, 1994, gave no party a majority and led to several years of unstable coalition governments. As of the May 1999 general elections, the Nepali Congress Party once again heads a majority government. There have been three Nepali Congress Party Prime Ministers since the 1999 elections: K.P. Bhattarai[?] (5/31/99-3/17/00); G.P. Koirala[?] (3/20/00-7/19/01); and Sher Bahadur Deuba[?] (7/23/01-present). The final distribution of seats in Parliament gave the Nepali Congress 113; the United Marxist-Leninist Party 69; the National Democratic Party 11; the National People's Front 5; the Nepal Goodwill Party 5; the Workers and Peasants Party 1; and the United People's Front 1.

In February 1996, the leaders of the Maoist United People's Front[?] began a violent insurgency, waged through killings, torture, bombings, kidnappings, extortion, and intimidation against civilians, police, and public officials in more than 50 of the country's 75 districts. About 1,800 police, civilians, and insurgents have been killed in the conflict since 1996. In July 2001 Prime Minister Deuba announced a cease-fire, which the Maoists pledged to observe, as part of a government effort to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict. Although Maoist-instigated intimidation and extortion continue, the killings have largely subsided since the cease-fire was announced. The government and Maoists held talks in August and September 2001.

Political parties agreed in 1991 that the monarchy would remain to enhance political stability and provide an important symbol of national identity for the culturally diverse Nepali people. The King exercises limited powers, including the right to declare a state of emergency in the event of war or armed revolt, with the advice and consent of the Council of Ministers and the Prime Minister. The King's declaration of a state of emergency must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the lower house of the Parliament. In general, however, the King is largely disassociated from direct involvement in day-to-day government activities.

On June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra shot and killed his father, King Birendra; his mother, Queen Aishwarya; his brother; his sister, his father's younger brother, Prince Dhirendra; and several aunts, before turning the gun on himself. After his death two days later, the late King's surviving brother Gyanendra was proclaimed king.

Nepal's judiciary is legally separate from the executive and legislative branches and has increasingly shown the will to be independent of political influence. The judiciary has the right of judicial review under the constitution. The king appoints the chief justice and all other judges to the supreme, appellate, and district courts upon the recommendation of the Judicial Council. All lower court decisions, including acquittals, are subject to appeal. The Supreme Court is the court of last appeal. The king may grant pardons and may suspend, commute, or remit any sentence by any court.

There are hundreds of small privately owned newspapers in addition to one English and one Nepali-language state-owned newspapers. Views expressed since the 1990 move to democracy are varied and vigorous. As of September 2001, there were 19 private radio stations, a government radio station, and a government-owned television station. The law allows the issuance of private television broadcasting licenses. Although one such license was issued in 1994, the recipient failed to begin broadcasting within the 6-year window. There are nearly 200 cable television operators nationwide, and satellite dishes to receive television broadcasts proliferate. The law strictly forbids the media to criticize or satirize the king or any member of the royal family.

Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Nepal
conventional short form: Nepal

Data code: NP

Government type: parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy (the king has sovereignty over the armed forces, and has many other powers)

Capital: Kathmandu

Administrative divisions: 14 zones (anchal, singular and plural):

Bagmati[?], Bheri[?], Dhawalagiri[?], Gandaki[?], Janakpur[?], Karnali[?], Kosi[?], Lumbini, Mahakali[?], Mechi[?], Narayani[?], Rapti[?], Sagarmatha[?], Seti

Independence: 1768 (unified by Prithvi Narayan Shah)

National holiday: Birthday of His Majesty the King, 28 December (1945)

Constitution: 9 November 1990

Legal system: based on Hindu legal concepts and English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: King GYANENDRA Bir Bikram Shah (succeeded to the throne 4 June 2001 following the death of his nephew, King DIPENDRA Bir Bikram Shah)

 
head of government: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur DEUBA (since 22 July 2001)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister

elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch

note: King BIRENDRA Bir Bikram Shah Dev died in a bloody shooting at the royal palace on 1 June 2001 that also claimed the lives of most of the royal family; King BIRENDRA's son, Crown Price DIPENDRA, is believed to have been responsible for the shootings before fatally wounding himself; immediately following the shootings and while still clinging to life, DIPENDRA was crowned king; he died three days later and was succeeded by his uncle

Legislative branch:

note: Nepal's Parliament was dissolved on 22 May 2002 and elections are scheduled for 13 November 2002

bicameral Parliament consists of the National Council (60 seats; 35 appointed by the House of Representatives, 10 by the king, and 15 elected by an electoral college; one-third of the members elected every two years to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (205 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NC 37.3%, CPN/UML 31.6%, NDP 10.4%, NSP 3.2%, Rastriya Jana Morcha 1.4%, Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal 0.8%, NWPP 0.5%, others 14.8%; seats by party - NC 113, CPN/UML 69, NDP 11, NSP 5, Rastriya Jana Morcha 5, Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal 1, NWPP 1

elections: House of Representatives - last held 3 and 17 May 1999 (next to be held 13 November 2002)

Political parties and leaders: Communist Party of Nepal/United Marxist-Leninist or CPN/UML [Madhav Kumar NEPAL, general secretary]; Marxist-Leninist [Sahana PRADHAM, chairman, Bam Dev GAUTAM, general secretary]; National Democratic Party or NDP (also called Rastriya Prajantra Party or RPP) [Surya Bahadur THAPA]; Nepal Sadbhavana (Goodwill) Party or NSP [Gajendra Narayan SINGH, president]; Nepal Workers and Peasants Party or NWPP [Narayan Man BIJUKCHHE, party chair]; Nepali Congress or NC [Girija Prasad KOIRALA, party president, Sushil KOIRALA, general secretary]; Rastriya Jana Morcha [Chitra Bahadur K. C., chairman]; Samyukta Janmorcha Nepal [Lila Mani POKHAREL, general secretary]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Maoist guerrilla-based insurgency; numerous small, left-leaning student groups in the capital; several small, radical Nepalese antimonarchist groups

International organization participation: AsDB, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, MONUC, NAM, OPCW, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNMOT, UNTAET, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Damodar Prasad GAUTAM
chancery: 2131 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 667-4550
FAX: [1] (202) 667-5534
consulate(s) general: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ralph FRANK
embassy: Pani Pokhari, Kathmandu
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [977] (1) 411179
FAX: [977] (1) 419963

Flag description: red with a blue border around the unique shape of two overlapping right triangles; the smaller, upper triangle bears a white stylized moon and the larger, lower triangle bears a white 12-pointed sun

See also : Nepal



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