Sunday, February 20, 2005

Making Mockery of Democracy

His Majesty King Gyandendra
(copyright Radio Free Nepal; f you wish to display this photo you must put a credit/link to Radio Free Nepal)

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

- Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Lincoln's definition to democracy, in his Gettysburg Speech given at the height of American Civil War, is the most widely used and simplest to understand. But Nepal's King Gyanendra either couldn't understand it or is trying to make mockery of it.

Falgun 7, which fell on February 18 this year, is celebrated in Nepal as the Democracy Day because in 1950 AD, for the first time democracy was introduced here ending the 104-year-long autocratic Rana Regime.

King Gyanendra's grandfather King Tribhuvan, a democratic king, led the fight for democracy. Gyanendra's father Mahendra however didn't like democracy and in 1960, suspended democratically elected government to introduce partyless Panchayat System that ended through People's Movement in 1990.

History is gone. But what King Gyanendra is trying hard these days is to show him the most ardent supporter of democracy. The function of democracy day that was live on state-run television and radio, Gyanendra listened while his follower reiterated his support for democracy.

The democracy day was celebrated in manner that would have made a lot of sense in democracy. But at the time, when democracy is dead, it was not more than a mockery of democracy.

Before that too, King Gyanendra mocked democracy. On his Royal Proclamation on Feb 1 after taking all the executive power and dismissing government, he lectured on the importance of democracy and that he is doing all that for protection of democracy. Can anything be protected after killing it?

And iterating his commitment to democracy, he appointed two most undemocratic deputies – Dr Tulsi Giri – the one who thinks there shouldn't be election at all, and Kirti Nidhi Bista – who received 136 votes compared with the winner's more than 59000 when he went into election. Both will be vice-chairman of the government that 'is for the people, by the people and of the people'.

And what's more: on Feb 18, the very democracy day, the security disrupted the rallies in various cities of the country because they were protesting the King's move (see the photo) – so in his democracy, King Gyanendra believes there should be no protest. The phone lines went dead (for outgoing calls) for more than 10 hours in the Kathmandu Valley.

King Gyanendra is an absolutist, no democratic and he should immediately stop mocking democracy.

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