Welcome remarks by Hon. Sujata Koirala, at a Special Workshop on Democratic Transition in Nepal, on February 15, 2016 in Kathmandu.

Welcome remarks by Hon. Sujata Koirala, ICAPP SC Member  and Member of Parliament, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and Member of the  Central Working Committee/ Head of the International Relations Department of the Nepali Congress Party at  a Special Workshop  on Democratic Transition in Nepal, on February 15, 2016 in Kathmandu.

 

 

Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr, Chairman of the ICAPP Standing Committee and former Speaker of the House of the Representative, Philippines

 

Rt. Hon'ble  KP Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal

Rt. Hon former Prime Ministers

Distinguished Members of ICAPP Standing Committee

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

 

It is my great privilege and honour to extend the most cordial greetings and a very warm welcome to  the Chairman and  distinguished delegates of ICAPP standing committee to Nepal at a Special Workshop  on Democratic Transition in Nepal.

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I would like to recognize the presence of:

 

Hon. Puspa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', President of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and Former Prime Minister,

 

Hon. Jhalanath Khanal, Senior Leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), and Former Prime Minister

 

Hon. Ram Chandra Poudel, Acting President of the Nepali Congress

 

Hon. Chung Eui-yong, Co-Chairman of the Standing Committee and Secretary General of the ICAPP, and Former Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee of the United Democratic Party, Republic of Korea,

 

Hon. Sok An, Vice Chairman of the ICAPP Standing Committee, Member of the Standing Committee of the Cambodian People's Party, and Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia

 

Hon.Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Special Rapporteur of ICAPP Standing Committee, Secretary General of Pakistan Muslim League-Q, and Chairman of the Senate Defense Committee, Pakistan

Mr. Zhang Xiyu, Director General of the 1st Bureau, International Department, Communist Party of China (IDCPC), on behalf of Hon. Chen Fengxiang, Vice Minister of IDCPC, and Member of the ICAPP Standing Committee, People’s Republic of China

 

Hon. Nalinee Taveesin, Vice Chairperson of the ICAPP Women’s Wing, and Former Minister Attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, and Member of the ICAPP Standing Committee, Pheu Thai Party of Thailand,

 

There are leaders from Nepali Congress, CPN (UML), UCPN (Maoist), CPN (Maoist), Terai Madhesh Loktantrik Party, Madheshi Janadhikar Forums Nepal and Ganatantrik, Sadbhavana and other parties from Nepal and outside.

 

I welcome their presence here; thank them for their leaderships and contributions from their respective positions.

 

I am sad to say that NC President and former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala who was a regular participant in ICAPP events  and  addressed the two day ICAPP Workshop on Human Trafficking on  January 16, 2014 held in Kathmandu, is no more with us. He was a great champion of democracy and freedom all through his life and lived a simple and honest life in an exemplary manner. He led the constitution making process as the Prime Minister and  President of the Nepali Congress, and  had an inclusive democratic constitution delivered to the people last September.

 

I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all the ICAPP Member States for their solidarity and support and for sharing the grief with  the people of Nepal.

 

I would also like to thank our friends in the ICAPP member states for their sympathy and solidarity with the people of Nepal who lost their loved ones in devastating earthquake of April 25 and subsequent aftershocks that took the toll of over ten thousands lives, and injured several hundred thousand.

 

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Transition is a moment of great transformations. It is also a difficult and sensitive situation. Transition moments are often caught between the forces of order and disorder. Transition has agendas of transformations focusing on fundamentals of democracy, development, inclusivity, science and technology, interdependence and market economy among others. 

 

Let me briefly touch the context of Nepal's democratic transition.  Nepal has been in democratic transitions for last several years. I would like to recall the peaceful people’s movement for multiparty democracy and the promulgation of 1990 Constitution that turned the absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy and established the Parliamentary system of multiparty democracy. The popularly  elected government led by Nepali Congress leader Girija Prasad Koirala focused on unleashing entrepreneurship and community led initiatives for income generation, rural development, poverty alleviation and social advancement.

 

This was this period, which witnessed a massive infrastructure development and investment in social development in the country. The Government held elections to local bodies creating a nationwide democratic network of people's institutions at the grass roots levels. That brought people closer to the governance, initiated the strengthening of democratic institutions, building foundation for local self-governance, and the empowering people in general, marginalized, and disadvantaged communities in particular.

 

The decade long Maoist armed conflict that began in 1996 was a setback to democratic transition in Nepal. Democracy came to be caught between two guns: guns of the Rebels and that of King who in the name of controlling it imposed the state of emergency in the country suspending fundamental human rights of the people. The situation was lethal to the country, people and democracy.  Realizing the gravity of the situation, Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala thought it vital to separate the country, people and democracy from the politics of guns.  He said then and I quote: “Parties could have different principles, but they can stand together for national sovereignty, democracy, human rights, and to stop the ongoing bloodshed." End of quote. He thus, brought all parties together for reestablishing democracy in the country.

 

Having fought severe forms of authoritarianism in the country several times,  my party Nepali Congress  guided by the   principles of democratic pluralism as a precondition to ensure lasting peace, security, national unity and reconciliation and inclusive development  in the country, initiated  dialogue, engagement and negotiations with rebels. G P Koirala provided leadership as the commander of the peaceful People's Movement and later as the Prime Minister to induct armed Rebels into mainstream constitutional democratic political process, and to the signing of a historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with the Maoists in 2006, which formally ended  the decade-long armed conflict in  Nepal. CPA was hailed as an instrument of conflict management and social transformation within a democratic framework.  I am happy to report that we have duly completed the critical tasks related to the peace process. While we are thankful to our neighbours, ICAPP member states and friends in the international community for their goodwill, and support, we look forward to their continued support.  

 

Constitution making was one of critical tasks of  the democratic transition in Nepal.  We have successfully completed the task of having an inclusive federal democratic republic constitution written by elected people's representatives and proclaimed through a sovereign Constituent Assembly. The constitution was endorsed by an overwhelming 90 percent  of the membership of a popularly elected and inclusive  Assembly.  It was only through national reconciliation and deepening national political engagements, we could draft an inclusive federal democratic republic constitution and lay the foundation for national unity, peace, stability, and development within a democratic framework in the  country. Democrats have huge responsibilities ahead as was underlined by GP Koirala. He said and I quote:  'I am a democrat and a democrat's duty is to bring all non-democrats within a democratic constitutional framework. If democrats cannot do this, democracy has no meaning or significance.' End of quote.  The challenge is on us all to make democracy work in transition and initiate economic development to sustain democratic process and deliver results to the people.

Esteemed friends and delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We live in an interdependent and interconnected world.  If we look at  unfolding events across the world, we find increasing focus on Asia and the Pacific region. It is a region of vast diversities amidst unique unity. Economic dynamism  has attracted added attention towards  the region, which  constitutes about one-third of the world's land area with more than 50% of the global population. The world looks to this  region with  immense possibilities for global partnership, development, and leadership.

 

The challenge is on us to work together and address the unfolding challenges that emanate from ongoing impacts of the economic and financial crises,  the rise of  ethnic nationalism, pervasive poverty, rampant corruption, increasing food and fuel crises, terrorism of all kinds, and climate change challenges. This demands that we in ICAPP member states  come together and use our political wisdom to promote cooperation at bilateral,  regional and multilateral levels and  ensure security,  peace and stability in countries of the region.

 

In conclusion, I would like to thank distinguished delegates present here for their warm friendship and commitment for stronger Asia to consolidate ties among  our nations in the days to come.

 

While extending the heartiest welcome to all our respected foreign and national delegates once again, we look forward to meaningful deliberations over the  next two days.

 

I wish you all a pleasant and productive stay in Nepal. 

 

Long Live ICAPP, Long live our friendship and solidarity

 

Thank you.