The 2006 Democracy Movement (Nepali: लोकतन्त्र आन्दोलन, translit. Loktantrik Āndolan /Loktantra Ka Lagi Gariyako Āndolan) is a name given to the political agitations against the direct and undemocratic rule of King Gyanendra of Nepal. The movement is also sometimes referred to as Jan Andolan-II ("People's Movement-II"), implying it being a continuation of the 1990 Jan Andolan.
Reinstitution of Parliament
In a nationally televised address, King Gyanendra reinstated the old Nepal House of Representatives on April 24, 2006. The King called upon the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) to bear the responsibility of taking the nation on the path to national unity and prosperity while ensuring permanent peace and safeguarding multiparty democracy.
The reinstitution of Parliament was accepted by the SPA. It declared that Girija Prasad Koirala would lead the new government. The SPA stated that the new parliament will hold elections for a body that would write a new constitution.
The move was rejected by the Maoists. Baburam Bhattarai stated that merely restoring the parliament was not going to resolve the problems and that the rebels planned to continue fighting against government forces. They still demanded the formation of a Constituent Assembly and abolition of the monarchy.
On April 28, however, the Maoist insurgents responded to demands by Girija Prasad Koirala and announced a unilateral three-month truce in the Nepalese Civil War. In addition to this, on May 1, Bhattarai announced that if "the elections [to a Constituent Assembly] are free and fair, one has to respect the result of the elections. Then of course we will abide by the verdict of the people." This was seen as a large step forward as it shows the first signs of Maoist acceptance of the democratic process.
On May 2, Koirala announced the new government cabinet including himself and three other ministers from the Nepali Congress: K.P. Sharma Oli from CPN (UML), Gopal Man Shrestha from Nepali Congress (Democratic) and Prabhu Narayan Chaudhari from the United Left Front. This was followed on May 12 by the arrest of four ministers from the ousted royalist government and an investigation into alleged human rights violations by the army during the General Strike.
May 18 Act
The most dramatic move of the post-Loktantra Andolan government came on May 18, 2006 when the Parliament unanimously voted to strip the King of many of his powers. The bill included:
- Putting 90,000 troops in the hands of the parliament
- Imposing a tax on the royal family and its assets
- Ending the Raj Parishad, a royal advisory council
- Eliminating royal references from army and government titles
- Declaring Nepal a secular country, not a Hindu Kingdom
- Scrapping the national anthem until a new one is composed
- Eliminating the king's position as the Supreme Commander of the Army
The act overrides the 1990 Constitution, written up following the Jana Andolan and has been described as a Nepalese Magna Carta. According to Prime Minister Koirala, "This proclamation represents the feelings of all the people."
May 18 has already been named Loktantrik Day (Democracy Day) by some.
Although the constitution was accepted, it was always intended to be temporary and on May 29, 2008, a new constitution was voted on by the Nepalese Parliament, which declared that the monarchy would be deposed and a new parliamentary republic would become the Nepalese political framework.
Protests in the 21st century
Kathmandu, April 17, 2007
An eight-member team of the Democratic Everest Expedition (DEE), a non-political expedition team, is all set to place the photos of Jana Andolan II martyrs atop the Mt Everest to honour them.
The team is going to start the scale of the highest mountain from tomorrow “to wish for eternal peace of the Jana Andolan-II martyrs. Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prithvi Subba Gurung today hand over a national flag to Ang Rita Sherpa, also known as Snow Leopard who has conquered Mt Everest 10 times without oxygen.
Addressing a press conference on the formal farewell programme organised by the DEE, Gurung said: “The Sherpas have always made us proud in the world. The government should respect the contribution of Sherpas in continuing the prestige of Nepal.” Edward Wayne, director of the Bridge of Life Foundation of the USA, said: “The road to democracy in Nepal is like the road to Mt Everest — full of obstacles and extreme happiness after conquering the summit.”
Anil Dhungel of the Everest Insurance Company said that the expedition is an honour to the martyrs who sacrificed their life for the country. DEE president Ang Ngima Sherpa said: “This expedition is organised for the eternal peace of the martyrs of the Jana Andolan-II.”
The expedition would hoist flags of the eight political parties, place photos of the Jana Andolan-II martyrs and release music albums atop Everest.
Rupee touches nine year high
The rupee today climbed to a nine-year high against the US dollar, as it appreciated further against the greenback, which has been losing its steam vis-à-vis the Indian currency, with whom the Nepali rupee maintains a fixed exchange rate.
The rupee came close to breaching the 66 per dollar level to a nine-year high of Rs 66 against the greenback. It was last quoted this high last in May-June 1998. Citing strong appreciation of the Indian currency, market analysts and economists speculate that the Nepali currency will continue to rise against the dollar this week, too.
Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has set the Nepali rupee’s buying rate at Rs 66.60 a dollar for trading on Wednesday, whereas it was Rs 67.11 today and Rs 68.40 a week ago. Since the Nepali currency is pegged against the Indian currency, the relation of the Indian rupee with the dollar determines the exchange rate of Nepali rupee vis-à-vis the greenback.
In India, it has already climbed a nine-year high yesterday and is expected to further strengthen in the coming days. Ramji Regmi, executive director at NRB-Foreign Exchange Department, attributes the appreciation of Indian currency as the sole reason for the sliding dollar value in Nepal.
A version of this article appears in print on April 18, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.
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