Nepal has been in the news this week due to the tragic events on Mount Everest last weekend. However, the news that hasn’t been reported is the on-going political situation and its impact on the people of Nepal.
Sunday 27 May is the deadline for the new constitution to be written. Those of you who read our blog regularly will know this is not the first deadline. There have been several extensions since the original deadline at the end of May two years ago and it’s still quite uncertain if a constitution will arrive this weekend. This month has been full of Bandhs.
The Bandhs have been on-going in various parts of Nepal for many days. The Terai (southern flat part on the border with India) has been pretty much permanently “closed” for most of the month as various groups have enforced bandhs, some for a dozen or so days. The far-west and far-east have also been subject to strict bandhs as various different political parties and interest groups try to make themselves heard, and their interests accommodated in the constitution.
Since Sunday the entire nation has been “closed”. One particular interest group has been enforcing a very strict bandh which is impacting everyone. Shops and schools are closed. There is no traffic on the streets. Many people’s livelihoods are affected.
How does this affect normal Nepali’s? Well many can’t work. If their livelihood depends on the income from their shop, or their market stall or being able to catch a bus to their place of work they are stuck. As night falls the bandh is lifted and the streets come to life as everyone rushes out to stock up on the necessities. As dawn starts to come in the morning (4.30/5am) people again try to get to the shops or travel to where they need to be for the day. But of course little produce is able to get into the valley because of the bandh and so shops are starting to run low on supplies.
How does this affect us? Well we too are subject to the daily dash for supplies. Thankfully, we are able to be well stocked with food and money (cash machines can’t be replenished), but this isn’t an option for poor Nepali’s. School has been closed today. I have spent half my day making contingency plans for IGCSE and A level exams if this continues. Becky and the kids are stuck with nowhere to go and little to do.
This week sees the culmination of 40 days of prayer forNepal, timed to coincide with the constitution deadline. If you pray, please do pray for Nepal, the political leaders and agitating parties this week. Pray for peace in this country and political stability.
STOP PRESS: As we were about to publish this blog we heard that the Constitutional Assembly, the body charged with writing the constitution have agreed another 3 month extension.