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Historical Introduction

The second-in-command of Nepal s former rebel Maoists, Baburam Bhattarai, gestures as he adresses Maoist suppoters during a mass meeting at an open in theatre in Kathamndu, 18 September 2007. Nepal s Maoists stormed out of government 18 September after failing to push through their demands for an immediate abolition of the Himalayan nation s monarchy. AFP

Despite its long independent history between China and India, Nepal as a state emerged in its present form in the late 18th century, when much of the culturally and ethnically diverse Himalayan country was brought to the control of the Gorkha kingdom. In 1951, the century-old authoritarian rule by hereditary Rana premiers in the isolated state was replaced with parliamentary democracy. Government by an absolute monarch behind a democratic facade lasted from 1960 until the mass protest of 1990, when political unrest became widespread and a multiparty democracy within the framework of a constitutional monarchy was established. However the partial movement towards a democratic parliamentary system didn't satisfy neither the supporters of a multiparty constitutional monarchy or the radical communist factions and resulted in the continuation of civil strife in the country of deep-seated economic and social problems.

In 1996 the Maoist wing of the Nepal Communist Party abandoned the parliament and launched a ´people´s war´ against the ´feudal forces´, monarchy and mainstream political parties of Nepal. Starting with large-scale demonstrations and strikes, the Maoist guerrillas used violent tactics and terror against the government and rural elites and eventually secured the support of the rural poor for the decade-long insurgency. The Maoists have been accused of abuses such as abductions, torture, rape, killings and civilian disappearances during the war. The government troops have also been accused of crimes and human rights abuses. All together more than 13,000 people (4,500 by Maoists and 8,200 by the government forces) were killed, hundreds went missing and at least 200,000 were displaced during the Nepalese Civil War in 1996-2006.

A Comprehensive Peace Agreement at the end of 2006 was signed between the belligerents with the help of United Nations. The Maoists joined the political mainstream in 2006, abolished monarchy, won elections in 2008 and lead the current coalition government. The Maoists are now promising radical change in Nepal and claim, that Communism has revived itself from all the old experiences. Still, other political parties, including their allies in the government accuse the Maoists of continuing violence and unrest.