LWF General Secretary Noko Urges Nepal’s International Partners to Support Struggle for Sustainable Peace
GENEVA, 24 April 2008 (LWI) – The General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, has described the recent constituent assembly election in Nepal as a key landmark in the country’s democratic process and ongoing struggle for sustainable peace.
“With the election of its new Constituent Assembly, Nepal now has an historic opportunity to put 10 years of brutal and destructive civil war behind it, to re-write its constitution, and to renew its entire system of governance,” said Noko in a statement released today.
That the 10 April elections were conducted in largely peaceful conditions “is a very welcome sign of the potential for democratic participation to take the place of armed conflict,” the LWF general secretary noted.
According to Nepal’s election commission, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) won the most seats-a total of 217 of seats in the 601-member constituent assembly. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress party took the second position with 107 seats, while the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) won 101 seats. Last December the country’s interim parliament agreed the 240-year-old monarchy would be formally abolished in the first meeting of the new assembly. The assembly will re-rewrite the national constitution.
Noko underscored the responsibility of Nepal’s partners in the international community “whether they like the election outcome or not,” to respect the democratic process and support the ongoing struggle for sustainable peace and human development in the Himalayan state. He said the election and its outcome was an opportunity “that Nepal and the international community cannot afford to miss.”
Noko highlighted the expectation that the new Constituent Assembly would not only write a good constitution, but would also establish governance systems and mechanisms that would translate constitutional pledges into meaningful actions. “The suffering of Nepal’s people in the past, and the hopes of its children for the future, demand it,” he stressed.
The LWF has been present in Nepal since 1984 through its Department for World Service (DWS) country program. DWS Nepal focuses on empowering the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups including Dalits and freed Kamaiyas (former bonded laborers) to achieve a just and sustainable livelihood, and promotes full recognition of the rights and dignity of women. It also supports the efforts of civil society groups in addressing injustice and representing disadvantaged people. (409 words)
The full text of the LWF statement on the Constituent Assembly election in Nepal follows:
Statement from LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko on Constituent Assembly election in Nepal
With the election of its new Constituent Assembly, Nepal now has an historic opportunity to put 10 years of brutal and destructive civil war behind it, to re-write its constitution, and to renew its entire system of governance in order to better serve its 27 million people. The fact that the elections on 10 April 2008 were conducted in largely peaceful conditions is a very welcome sign of the potential for democratic participation to take the place of armed conflict.
Those who have been elected to the Constituent Assembly have a collective responsibility to faithfully fulfill the mandate entrusted to them on behalf of and in full accountability to all the people of Nepal, and to ensure that the peace process does not fail. Nepal’s partners in the international community also have a responsibility, whether they like the election outcome or not, to respect the democratic process and to support the ongoing struggle for sustainable peace and human development in the country. This election and its outcome is a key landmark in that process. It is an opportunity that Nepal and the international community cannot afford to miss.
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has been present in Nepal since 1984, supporting projects and programs for the empowerment of the poor and for the most marginalized groups – Dalits, freed Kamaiyas, Haliyas and Janjatis. The LWF has also sought to promote the full recognition of the dignity and rights of women in Nepal. We call for the Constituent Assembly to ensure that the new constitution and system of government will guarantee equal rights and opportunities to all Nepalis, and that the most marginalized groups are fully integrated in the process of rebuilding the nation.
Respect for the human rights of all the people of Nepal is the best and only assurance of sustainable peace and development in the country. It is a currency that cannot be received from outside, but can only be granted by Nepalis to themselves. But even the most progressive and best-written constitution will not by itself be sufficient to realize those rights. The promises the new constitution will make to the people of Nepal must be implemented in practice, or those unfulfilled promises will simply set the stage for further conflict. The expectation of all those who care for the future of Nepal is that the Constituent Assembly will not only to write a good constitution, but will also to set in place the systems and mechanisms of governance that will translate constitutional pledges into meaningful actions. The suffering of Nepal’s people in the past, and the hopes of its children for the future, demand it.
24 April 2008