Nepal’s New Beginnings

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Having been granted Sushil Koirala’s first interview as Nepal’s new prime minister, I reached his residence to discover skeletal security around a modest accommodation, located beside an open parking lot. Inside the house, where his cousin, G.P. Koirala, a former prime minister himself, once lived, the minimalist simplicity of the furnishing reflected the personality of its current occupant, the 74-year-old Sushil Koirala. It brought on a feeling of déjà vu as I remembered a meeting with another prime minister of Nepal, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, a bachelor like Koirala, and with a similar reputation for probity and simplicity. Bhattarai’s interview was conducted as he prepared to leave his home to be sworn in as prime minister, at the culmination of a popular movement to restore multiparty democracy to Nepal in 1990. Then too, as now, his first government (he was prime minister twice) had support from the left. In further irony, Bhattarai oversaw a new Constitution.Moses Manoharan (MM): Thank you for granting Global Dialogue Review your first interview. To be prime minister of your country at 74 must be cause for a great deal of personal satisfaction. Is it also a turning point for your nation to get Nepal’s New Beginnings
An Interview with Nepal’s Prime Minister
Sushil Koirala
Moses Manoharan
back on the path of domestic harmony and economic prosperity. If so, what are your priorities?
Sushil Koirala (SK): Our priority is to first of all complete the Constitution, a democratic Constitution. We have dis-cussed in the earlier Constituent Assembly(CA) many things, and we have sorted out about 70 to 75% of our problems. We discussed and agreed on contentious issues.
We have agreed to solve them through the CA. We have no alternative except to have dialogue, reconciliation, and creating a consensus among all the political parties. We have to move in consensus. We have to have peace, stability, democracy and development. Now that we have come to consensus, all the political things will start. MM: What are the contentious issues?
SK: When I say contentious, it is in the form of governance. Nepali Congress is wedded to democracy and we have had along struggle since the inception of Nepali Congress in 1947. In 1959, we had a Parliamentary election – the first – when one of our most visionary leaders, B.P. Koirala, became the first elected prime minister, with a vision to develop this country, and he was elected for five years. For 18 months he was put behind bars, all the ministers and political leaders and thousands of leaders. We had a new panchayat system, and we had to struggle against this panchayati system. It took 30 years, and we had to face the long incarceration of leaders like B.P. Koirala, Ganesh Man Singh, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and G.P Koirala. We have been fighting for democracy, for rule of law, for freedom.

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