Nepal. After a seven-month ceasefire was interrupted by the Maoist guerrillas in August 2003, it was yet another troubled year in Nepal. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Nepal is 29,136,819 people in 2020. The guerrillas carried out a series of bloody attacks, usually directed at police. The UN accused both the guerrillas and the government side of abuses on civilians. The government was mainly criticized for illegal house investigations, arbitrary arrests and harassment by professional groups such as journalists, teachers and lawyers as well as trade union activists. Several foreign aid organizations protested against being subjected to harassment and extortion from the guerrillas. The civil political opposition was also active and demonstrated for a long time daily in the capital Kathmandu against the kingdom.
In May, the reigning Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa resigned after less than a year. After a month, King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Deb commissioned former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to form a new government. It was the dismissal of Deuba in 2002 that triggered the deep political crisis in Nepal. Deuba formed after a month a four-party government, including the United Marxist-Leninists. The largest party, the Nepalese Congress Party, declined participation. Deuba’s intention was to establish new peace talks. However, the guerrilla rejected the offer and instead intensified the fight. For almost a month, nearly 50 large companies were forced to close down the business under threat of reprisals. In August, the guerrilla also carried out a week-long blockade of Kathmandu, but without significant success.
In the 2004/05 budget, appropriations for the security service were increased by 13%. Although the war, reduced tourism and a large number of strikes, ordered by the Maoist trade union movement, caused major economic disruptions, Nepal was projected to have an economic growth of 3.6% during the financial year 2003/04, most thanks to favorable weather. Agriculture accounts for more than 40% of the gross domestic product.
In January, Nepal’s largest hydroelectric power plant, Kali Gandaki, was inaugurated 20 km west of Kathmandu, with a capacity of 144 megawatts.
In 2010, Parliament was given a two-year deadline to write a new constitution. The Supreme Court had set a deadline for May 2012, but the Constitution was not adopted until September 2015. The Constitution effectively makes Nepal a federal democratic republic, with seven federal provinces. The Constitution declares Nepal as a secular state and became the first in Asia to protect gay rights.
In October 2015, Parliament elected Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli as Prime Minister. He was the first prime minister elected under the new constitution. The following year, he had to step down following a motion of no confidence. The leader of the Maoist party, Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), took over as prime minister. Bidhya Devi Bhandari was elected as Nepal’s first female president in 2015. She is a champion of women’s rights in Nepali politics.
In 2017, elections were held for the Nepal National Assembly and for the provincial assemblies. The Constitution of 2015 declared Nepal a federal state with three levels of government: federal, provincial and local. The intention is to decentralize power from Kathmandu to the newly created seven provinces and municipal units, and the election in 2017 should ensure democratic representation at both the local and national levels. One third of the seats are reserved for women, at all three levels of government. A system has also been created to ensure representation of casteless, indigenous peoples and minority groups in the governing structures.
The two communist parties, CPN-UML and CPN, voted for the elections under a common banner and won a clear victory both in the congressional elections and in most provinces. The election campaign was largely peaceful.
In February 2018, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, leader of Nepal’s Communist Party, became new prime minister. He was former prime minister in 2015–2016. Oli heads the first government, elected under a new national constitution, to ensure Nepal’s transformation from Hindu monarchy to a federal republic. In the election campaign, Oli promised to promote peace, stability and development in one of the world’s poorest countries. His government is believed to be closer to China than India, and wants Chinese investment in a Himalayan rail link and investment in Nepal’s hydropower plant.
Earthquake in 2015
Nepal was hit by a powerful earthquake on April 25, 2015, at 11.55 am local time. The quake was measured at 7.9 on Richter’s scale. The epicenter was in Lamjung in Gorkha district, 80 kilometers from Kathmandu. Several thousand people were killed and even more were injured as a result of the earthquake. Thirty districts were hit, and the scale of damage to buildings and infrastructure was enormous. Nepal declared national disaster after the earthquake.
It took a long time to get an overview of the magnitude of the natural disaster, and several deaths and devastation came after a new 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit the area on May 12, 2015. Nepal is very vulnerable to earthquakes. The country has many bad and simple buildings, and this amplifies the damage of an earthquake.