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Published on 07 June, 2012

Nepal’s constitutional crisis deepens

Nepal
(MNN) — It's "Back to the Ol' Drawing Board" for Nepal after its Constituent
Assembly failed to produce a constitution by the deadline, May 28, leading to a
call for new elections.

Gospel For Asia Vice President Danny Punnose explains, "The
final deadline ended just recently, and so the present government is not ruling
the government anymore. There will be a caretaker government managing things
until November when elections will take place where they're going to re-elect
everyone back into the government."

The process has been confusing and fraught with conflict between the
main political parties. "Nepal is
kind of experiencing its first breath of democracy and freedom. At the same
time, they were supposed to have drafted the blueprint for the country and
get that done as soon as possible."

The prime minister will lead a caretaker government until the Nov.
22 elections. The failure of the process led the United Nations to express concerns
over potential violence, especially since the country is flanked by India and
China.   

"The leaders of these countries want to see
stability because it affects their own futures," Punnose says. However, "Even if there is rioting and there is some
political strife, I think it will be minor compared to how it used to be when
there was a lock down of the entire country."

It's a lackluster ending to what began as a triumphant
journey. Four years ago, Nepal became a
republic.  Before moving forward, the
government needed a constitution to guide them, and that's when the process
began to fell apart. GFA partners
weren't directly hampered by the crisis. "We're paying attention and looking at
what's going to be happening and still continuing to do ministry, still continuing to help the kids, the poor, and meet the needs of the people."

Interest piqued over the rewrite of the penal code that included language
resembling an anti-conversion law. That,
too, raised some red flags. But GFA
teams couldn't stop working on the advance of how a law might  be enforced. Punnose notes, "We are seeing people
having spiritual hunger whether there's political instability or not."

As the constitution deadline came and went, the Constituent
Assembly parties deadlocked, which led to the dissolution of Parliament. Punnose acknowledges that uncertainty can pose
certain disruptions to outreach work. "It can be where people are
distracted by what will be happening in the next couple of months. We'll be watching,
and waiting, too. At the same time, I think people are touched no matter what
happens around them because they know that Christ's love does impact their
lives."

Already, the parties are making accusations that the elections
will not be free and fair. The road to the polls could be seeded with political
landmines. Punnose says their team has
been praying for resolution. 

When you join them in prayer, he says, this is what they consider.
"If there happens to be rioting, if there happens to be some instability which
is taken to the streets, then we need wisdom in what's the best way to go about
continuing to do the ministry in spite of those things.'"

Christians make up 2.85% of the population of Nepal, a nation that
is 16% Buddhist and 4.4% Muslim; Hindus are the majority at 75%, according to
Operation World.

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