Ethnic divides resurface as Nepal's assembly fails to write a new constitution
Nepal’s Constituent Assembly collapsed on 28 May failing to meet its deadline to deliver a new constitution amid the furore of federalist and ethnic divisions. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his disappointment in the failure, as well as asserting the need for political consensus to lead to a peaceful way forward.
For centuries, the resentments simmered in this Himalayan nation, a place where everyone knew who belonged to the country's small elite and who did not. Indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and low-caste Nepalis knew they had little chance to join the economic and political leadership, which was dominated by high-caste members of just two ethnic groups among the country's dozens. The resentments helped fuel a communist insurgency during a bloody, decade-long civil war, which finally ground to an end in 2006. They helped undermine the monarchy, which was abolished in 2008. Now, those resentments have erupted anew in regional, ethnic-based politics wherein indigenous and ethnic minorities are demanding identity-based federalism with rights to self-determination and autonomy – demands that dominant groups claim are ethnically divisive. In the days before the constitution deadline, AIPP released a statement condemning political gerrymandering designed to alienate indigenous groups by reclassifying the Khas-Arya as indigenous and called for solidarity amongst the political parties in ensuring an inclusive democracy.