Saturday, December 10, 2005

Courting Catastrophe

Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala has given King Gyanendra a one-month ultimatum to respond to the 12-point understanding reached between the seven-party alliance and Maoists. Missing that deadline “will invite a big catastrophe that will wash away the monarchy.”
Koirala said the NC was standing on the borderline of republicanism. "If people want to cross the borderline we will have no option but to comply."
Maila Baje thought Girijababu’s party had crossed that borderline when it dropped reference to constitutional monarchy from the party statute. So there’s some hope that the “people” – Nepali Congress activists and their student, trade union, women, ex-servicemen allies who are essentially the same bunch of folks – may relent.
The octogenarian’s threat is similar to the tsunami warning UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal has been issuing.
Seeking to show that, unlike Girijababu, he is a man of the times, MaKuNe has been making repeated references to dragging the royal regime to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Since Nepal is not a state party to the Rome Treaty that established the body, the ICC can begin an investigation if a case is referred either by the United Nations Security Council or by another ratifying state. While the prosecutor may also take independent action, it involves a process, shall we say, too complicated to constitute a credible threat.
With Nepal able to the count on Chinese and Russian vetoes, at the least, the U.N. Security Council would have a hard time referring the royal regime to the ICC. The only other country Comrade MaKuNe could count on is India – provided a left-driven government like the current one is in power. But India has shown little inclination to sign the treaty, much less ratify it. (Obviously, it’s not like, say, promising Nepal could export electricity via satellite to dodge its geographical disadvantages.)
King Gyanendra, for his part, seems to be a man of infinite patience. Four years on the throne, he hasn’t even begun consulting propitious dates for his coronation.
Moreover, he knows that a catastrophe by definition has far-reaching dimensions. As for MaKuNe’s tsunami, the comrade should take a deep breath and go back 11-and-a-half months. Does he still believe he can escape the devastation he has vowed to unleash?