We are building a republican culture: FM Gyawali
Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, who had played key role during the April Uprising of 2006 and the peace process thereafter, is now Foreign Affairs Minister of Nepal. A popular leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was elected to the House of Representatives from Gulmi. On the eve of Republic Day, Minister Gyawali talked to Amarendra Yadav of The Rising Nepal. Excerpts:
In 2006, we all came together and fought for republic. We accomplished the goal by establishing republic and promulgating Constitution through people-elected Constituent Assembly. Are we today on the right track in terms of safeguarding the achievement?
We abolished the monarchy because it had challenged the natural laws of the development of the society. We have established the republic just 12 years back. It will not be righteous if we compare it with the political system that had ruled the country for centuries. We have established the best form of democracy in Nepal. Now the republic is being institutionalised and consolidated. Even at this situation, what we can say that we are in the right direction. Under the republican structure, Nepal will be happy and prosperous.
What are the differences between the monarchical system of the past and the present republican system?
It is natural that the monarchy was an obstacle to development. Only development, economic growth and some physical infrastructures are not important. Another aspect of the development is that the people feel themselves independent, sovereign and a kind of master of the country. The country cannot be developed without the consolidated willpower and participation of the people. Yes, there are exceptions. A few monarchical countries are developed in the world. But in Nepal,
the monarchy was an obstacle to the social and economic development. The main reason is that the common people could not establish their ownership, access and participation in the republican type of political system.
We announced the establishment of republic on May 28, 2008. We were in transition till 2015 when we promulgated the new Constitution from the Constituent Assembly. Subsequently, we spent two years in implementing the Constitution. We are moving ahead under the complete republican framework for one or one and half years. This year, we are going to achieve 7 per cent growth, Nearly Rs. 4 trillion has been added to the GDP in a year. The world has now started assessing Nepal as a country fast moving towards the economic development. I think Nepal will intensify its growth and development rate in the days to come.
Most of the countries in the world are republics. Even our two giant neighbouring countries are also republics with their own features. Is our republican system is helping Nepal in its internal development and prosperity draw attention of other republican countries across the world towards us?
The change in the political system of a country does not massively affect its relations with other countries. However, the republican system that we have recently established in the country has definitely increased our prestige, acceptability and role of Nepal in the international arena. When we present an account of our recent political achievements in the international forums, what we state that our Constitution is progressive and inclusive. Our elected bodies have 41 per cent women representation. We have abolished death penalty. Our Constitution has guaranteed education, health, employment, shelter and food as fundamental rights. Even a common citizen could be president of the country. All these achievements have increased the profile of the country. Whenever we tell all these things, the world pays attention to us. However, only a particular political system does not determine the relations of a country with others.
In the recent one or two years, we have heard voices being raised against the republic. Is frustration against the republican system growing slowly?
It is true that there is some gap between what we had promised in the past and our delivery. We must admit this. I myself am at the prominent place of running the government. There are many things to be improved. Our pace is satisfactory. I think we should bring about many changes in our working style. The common citizens have more expectations from us. Some of their questions related to our performance and deliveries are genuine and valid. Such interests, questions and criticism of the people are, to an extent, energy for us.
However, a handful of people are still thinking of reinstating the monarchy in the country. I think it is their meaningless effort and foolishness. The monarchy of Shah Dynasty was tested and failed in 240 years. Even before that, the monarchical system had rule the country for around 2,000 years. We might have some shortcomings. But if the republic is attacked citing such shortcomings, we cannot accept it. We are on the way to the development of the republican system. We are in course of building our culture, system and behaviour according to the republican norms and values. However, blaming the republic on the basis of our fringe mistakes is an evil thinking of going reverse.
Some elements are active against the republic in the cover of religion. On the other hand, one political party that had fought for the republic in the past is busy attacking an institution representing the republican system. How do you assess all these things?
Unfortunately, a handful of individuals are openly demonstrating their foolish and regressive thinking by advocating for the monarchy. Second, the republican system is being attacked by linking religion with the politics. Religion is totally a personal matter. It should not be used as a political weapon. Third, others are active in destabilising the society by reviving the already settled issue of federalism on the basis of ethnicity. Besides, a small group is trying to resume a politics of arms to fish in the troubled water. These are some minor voices and activities. I think it is natural. The changed political system will definitely confront any effort of reverse.
Even though the present federal republican political system was established through the process of the Constituent Assembly that was also represented by pro-monarchy forces as well, the same pro-monarchy forces are saying that the current political system should have been tested through a referendum. What do you say?
Revolution and the April Uprising of 2006 are greater than a referendum. The current political system has been established going through the processes and procedures of the two elected Constituent Assemblies following the historic People’s Movement. Specifically, the republic has been endorsed by a huge majority in the inclusive CA. I think the former monarchists are raising the issues to maintain their political agenda and find their space in the current political landscape. However, the attachment of those who fought for the republic and others calling themselves new forces towards the expired monarchy is unfortunate and surprising.
Following the formation of the current government, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, and you as a Foreign Affairs Minister are approaching international forums to ask cooperation and investment for the development and prosperity of the country. You are also conveying a message that Nepal has achieved full peace, stability and democracy. What kinds of responses you are receiving from the international community in this context?
The international communities are showing much interest in our latest political achievements. They have positive goodwill towards these. We have concluded our peace process in our own way. It has become a matter of study and research for many.
Many countries are surprised seeing our 40 per cent women representation in the elected government bodies. For example, our President, accompanied by me and others, was recently on the China visit to participate in the Belt and Road Forum. During the stay, one of the senior Japanese politicians met our President to know and learn about Nepal’s unique gender inclusiveness. These things have made our image bright.
We are on the journey of prosperity by attaining political stability. We are expecting goodwill, cooperation, investment and concessional loan from the international community. They are very positive to our appeal. The political change does not automatically bring about economic transformation in the country. We have a lot of things to do for the economic transformation.