Election Delay Means Nepal Must Survive a Winter of Widespread Discontent

Election Delay Means Nepal Must Survive a Winter of Widespread Discontent

KATMANDU, Nepal -- The postponement of Nepal's crucial November elections has dealt a serious blow to the Himalayan nation's fragile peace process, dashing the credibility of the interim government, allowing time for the security situation to worsen and shifting the focus of peace talks away from elections and towards the much thornier issue of armies.

Earlier this month, the polls were delayed for a second time because of new Maoist demands and general political apathy. An emergency session of the interim parliament broke for a festival holiday on Oct. 16 without managing any breakthroughs amongst bickering parties.

The result in the short term will be a period of tense uncertainty for Nepal, where it is expected the usual cold and food shortages of winter will be exacerbated by increasing violence perpetrated by the two-dozen militant groups who terrorize the country. The failure of the politicians in Katmandu has also increased the possibility of a military coup if the security situation doesn't improve or if the army is asked to integrate more than a few Maoist guerrillas.

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