The ten year civil war in Nepal that claimed over 13,000 lives ended in 2006 when Maoist insurgents gave up their armed revolt in order to integrate themselves socially and politically. At the end of the war, more than 19,000 former Maoist combatants remained sequestered in barracks controlled by the U.N. Part of the peace agreement called for their gradual integration into Nepal’s security forces, but army chief Rookmangud Katawal, who strongly opposed the integration of politically indoctrinated enemy soldiers, blocked this process.
Nepal is a small Himalayan country that borders China and India with a population of about 20 million and with a famous ethnic and religious diversity. Established as a monarchy in the mid-18th century, its form of government was hotly contested in 1972 with the death of King Mahendra and the accession of his son, Birenda. The king maintained power but promised a national referendum on the panchayat system of councils, which then allowed the king almost total autocratic control.
The 2006 general strike in Nepal was part of a larger democracy movement in the country. Nepal has had a historically monarchal government dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. In the 1940’s, political opposition rose, critical of the enduring, often unstable, autocratic rule and calling for democratic reforms. In 1951, Nepal instated the Nepali Congress Party, dissolving some of the monarchic hegemony.
In the 1980’s the Bhutanese government saw the Lhotshampa people, natives of Southern Bhutan, as a political threat. The government began to discriminate against them, and in the early 1990’s, 100,000 people from Southern Bhutan fled their country, fearing for their safety. The Bhutan refugees resided in United Nations-sponsored refugee camps in Nepal.