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Nepal peace process

Nepal is seeing a return to repression.

Last September, after nearly nine years, the Nepali peace process finally yielded a new constitution and a new federal system of government – sparking over four months of protests by the lowland Madhesi people.

The Madhesis felt large parts of ‘their people’ had been assigned to states dominated by other ethnic groups.

The Indian government imposed a harsh trade blockade to support the Madhesis, but then opened the key border post of Birganj on 5 February after the Nepali government announced it would proportionally include Madhesis in government – not what the protesters had been demanding.

It took Madhesi leaders until 8 February to follow suit and officially lift the blockade that India had already ended.

Since then, the Nepali government has cracked down on Madhesi protest leaders (arresting over a dozen without due process) rather than engage in negotiations.

On 6 March, the Nepali army threatened to take unilateral action to suppress the Madhesi movement.

On 15 March, the government formed an expert commission to finalise the structures of the sevel provinces. Madhesi leaders were threatening to resume protests as PN went to press.