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General Information of Nepal

Government of Nepal

Nepalís government is a constitutional monarchy. In response to major pro-democracy protests, Nepal adopted a new constitution in 1990 that established a multiparty democracy but preserved the kingís status as chief of state. The 1990 constitution ended nearly 30 years of absolute monarchy in which the king dominated Nepalís politics and political parties were banned. Nepal has universal suffrage beginning at the age of 18.

A. Executive and Legislature

Executive powers are vested in the king and a council of ministers, composed of a prime minister and other ministers. The king appoints the leader of the majority party in parliament as prime minister. Other ministers are appointed from parliament by the king upon the recommendation of the prime minister. The

 Council of Ministers is responsible for the day-to-day administration of Nepal.

The 1990 constitution established a bicameral (two-chamber) legislature consisting of a house of representatives and a national council. The House of Representatives has 205 members directly elected by the voters. The National Council has 60 members: 10 nominated by the king, 35 elected by the House of Representatives, and 15 elected by an electoral college comprising the voters, chairs, and deputy chairs of villages, towns, and districts. Members of parliament serve five-year terms unless the parliament is dissolved earlier upon recommendation of the prime minister.

B. Judiciary

The judiciary is made up of three tiers: the Supreme Court, appellate courts, and district courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court. The chief justice is appointed by the king on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council. Other judges of the three courts are appointed on the recommendation of the Judicial Council.

C. Political Parties

Major political parties include the Nepali Congress

Party (NCP), a reform-oriented centrist party, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), or CPN-UML. Both of these parties operated illegally in Nepal from exile in India until the 1990 reforms lifted the ban on political parties. The royalist National Democratic Party (NDP) was formed prior to the first democratic elections in 1991. In 1998 a faction within the CPN-UML broke away to form a new party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist), or CPN-ML. Also that year, the NDP split into two rival factions with the creation of the NDP (Chand). In 2002 a breakaway faction of the NCP formed the Nepali Congress Democratic (NCD).

D. Social Services

Nepal has significant health care problems and receives aid through foreign agencies and religious groups. Diseases and chronic infections have been particularly prevalent in rural areas, including goiter, tuberculosis, and dysentery. Cases of leprosy continue to exist in some areas. Another chronic problem in Nepal is malnutrition, which is particularly severe in hill and mountain regions where people often experience food shortages.

E. Defense

In 2002 Nepalís defense force consisted of an army of about 63,000. There is no air force, although the army operates a small military wing. Military service is not compulsory.

F. International Organizations

Nepal has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and participates in several international agencies such as the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization; the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; the World Health Organization; and the Economic Council for Asia and the Far East. In 1961 Nepal became a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). Kathmandu is the permanent seat of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

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