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Maoist Party Victorious in Nepal Election

April 19th, 2013
Nepali Church

This Nepali church stands in the shadow of the world-famous Himalayan Mountains. Nepal’s new ruling party promises to grant full freedom of religion to all Nepalis.

In a turn of events that has shocked many, the Maoist political party has won 116 of the 215 elected seats in Nepal’s new constitutional assembly, according to news reports coming out of the country. The Maoist party was formerly a rebel group with a brutal history. In spite of their past, the Maoists are now being viewed as catalysts for great change in the country.

Narayan Sharma, Gospel for Asia’s Nepal leader, said the Nepali people are closely watching their new government.

“The country is at peace. The people are not afraid. Rather, they are terribly curious and wondering how things will change. They have much hope in the Maoists, as everyone else has failed them,” he said.

He said the newly elected officials are aware of their tenuous situation with the people who elected them.

Nepali voters went to the polls on April 10, and more than 80 percent of the votes were tabulated by April 15. Once it became clear that they had won, the Maoists began reaching out.

“One of the Maoist leaders called a meeting with all the major Christian leaders in Nepal,” Narayan said. “She spoke very openly to them, saying the Maoists had no intentions to hurt Christians in any way. She said the new constitution will favor a secular state and religious freedom. She said the Maoists would guarantee freedom of religion for all.”

Narayan said the Maoist victory guarantees an end to Nepal’s 240—year—old monarchy. In an interview with the BBC, the Maoist’s deputy leader, Baburam Bhattarai, said he believes Nepal’s monarchy will be abolished in the next three weeks. The assembly’s first item of business will be to ask the king to step down.

“They are being careful not to undermine the hope of the people. They know how much the country has suffered and are vowing to do things differently,” Narayan said.

“If the Maoists had not won the election, then it is for sure that the king would have somehow been put back into power,” Narayan said. “There would be no religious freedom and no hope for change. The corruption would only increase, and there would be no push for the development of the country. The monarchy would continue, and the people would only continue to suffer,” Narayan said.

 

Women Bible Study

Gospel for Asia has been sharing God’s love with the Nepali people since 1988. These women are spending time in worship during their Bible study.

The Maoist party leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who goes by the name Prachanda, said the newly elected representatives would continue cooperating with representatives from the other two political parties, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal. Prachanda told reporters that the party is “fully committed to the peace process and multi-party democracy and to rebuild this country.”

He also said the new leaders would pursue good relations with Nepal’s neighbors, India and China. Traditionally Nepal has been considered to be in India’s sphere of influence, sharing a common history and culture with its southern neighbor. Separated by the Himalayan Mountains from China to the north, the relationship between these two countries has been more distant. Many Nepalis are also critical of China’s policies regarding Tibet, due to the large number of ethnic Tibetans in Nepal.

Nepali political observers are putting forth many theories about the win. One of them is that the people were fearful that the Maoists would once again turn to violence if they lost the elections. Other analysts say that the people were simply fed up with the current government and the monarchy.

Still others say that the people were captivated by the charismatic Prachanda, who promised to return land ownership to the people who work the land, deliverance from caste discrimination and an end to the dowry system. Narayan said the Maoist’s violent history can be linked to fringe elements in the group.

“In the past, Maoists have never purposely tried to hurt Christians. There was never an agenda on their part to make life difficult for Christians. However, due to the immaturity of some and the perception that Christians were somehow ‘agents working for America,’ some Christians did suffer at the hands of the Maoists. Yet, this was never the intention of the party as a whole,” Narayan said.

The Constituent Assembly will be comprised of both elected and appointed officials and will be charged with recreating Nepal’s constitution and ushering the country into a democratic form of government. These newly elected officials will serve two-year terms.

Narayan said that while he will not become involved in politics, he is concerned about the country’s development and the institution of true religious freedom for the people. He asks for prayer for the country, its citizens and its new constituent assembly.

“God has a plan and a purpose for Nepal, and the Maoists coming to power is part of that,” he said. “I am hopeful to see how this will open doors for the furthering of the Gospel in this country.”

 

This article was originally published by Gospel for Asia. To learn more about Gospel for Asia, click here.

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