Nepal. United Democratic Madheshi Front (UDMF) left government cooperation in March. The decision was made in protest that the government did not make the constitutional changes they promised last year – and which would mean a stronger political representation for the Madheshi minority group. Despite the resignation, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s government had a majority in parliament.
For the first time in 20 years, local elections were held in Nepal during the spring and summer. The elections were held in several rounds, the first in May in three of Nepal’s provinces. The second round was held in the country’s southern provinces in June. Local elections were seen as an important step in completing democracy in the country.
According to Countryaah.com, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal announced in May that he would resign to be replaced by Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepalese Congress (NC). The resignation took place in accordance with an agreement in 2016 on rotation between the country’s two largest parties NC and UML until parliamentary elections are held.
Nepal in August criminalized a Hindu tradition called chhaupadi. The tradition means that women who are menstruating and women who have recently given birth are considered unclean and therefore have to sleep separated in a hut a bit from the dwelling house. Nor do the “unclean” women touch food, religious objects, livestock, or men. Chhaupadi was banned by the Supreme Court more than ten years ago, but has remained alive as the faith is deeply rooted and no rules of punishment exist. The new law meant that anyone who forces a woman to follow the custom will be punished with a fine and/or up to three months in prison.
The media reported in August that about 150 people died as a result of floods and landslides in Nepal. At the same time, a quarter of a million Nepalese had lost their homes. Around 20% of the country’s 28 million residents were estimated to have in some way been affected by the floods, which according to the UN were the worst in the country in 15 years.
In September, the last local elections were held in the country’s seventh province, which is dominated by the Madheshi minority group. The election was postponed after the Madheshi party RJPN in June called for a boycott. However, the pressure on RJPN to participate in local elections increased when some of its members jumped off the party to stand in the second round of elections in June.
During the last months of the year, parliamentary elections were held in two rounds, beginning in the northern provinces. A preliminary result indicated a landslide victory for an alliance between the party of the former Maoist rebels and the country’s largest communist party UML. Losers were the Nepalese Congress and its allies.