A 10-year civil war between the Government of Nepal and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist formally ended in 2006 with an April ceasefire followed by a November peace agreement. In the post-conflict transitional period, Nepal turned to power sharing as a way to bring all sides of the conflict together, reduce the likelihood of a return to violence, and stabilize the country to create a favorable atmosphere for representative elections.
The institutionalization of power-sharing as a means to address the problem of who will decide on the country’s present and future had at least one successful outcome, as Nepal held direct elections for the first time in its history on April 10th, 2008. Power sharing had two distinct phases: formal arrangements during the 18 months between the peace agreement and elections, and a more informal set of agreed-upon principles to complete unfinished reforms after elections. Unresolved issues include integration of the Maoist Army into the Nepal Army, composition of a National Security Council and human rights.
Although the first phase of power sharing accomplished some key objectives, it also encouraged political stagnation and gave ‘old guard’ politicians an excuse to stay in power even after election results proved that citizens wanted otherwise. Continued delay of much-needed reforms will erode political progress made since the end of conflict, encouraging partisan spats and undermining faith in the new Constituent Assembly legislature. Further, new ‘power sharing’ ideas being floated by politicians and the press, including power dividing and decentralization to address the rise of ethnic politics, may irreversibly fracture the country in the name of keeping the peace.