This section sets out a chronology of major political events in contemporary Nepal, from 1846 to November 2016.
Read full article
Nepal is ruled by hereditary prime ministers from the Rana clan with Shah kings as figureheads. Prime Minister Padma Shamsher promulgates the country’s first constitution, the Government of Nepal Act, in 1948 but it is never implemented.
An armed movement led by the Nepali Congress (NC) party, founded in India, ends Rana rule and restores the primacy of the Shah monarchy. King Tribhuvan announces the election to a constituent assembly and introduces the Interim Government of Nepal Act 1951.
Governments form and fall as political parties tussle among themselves and with an increasingly assertive palace. Tribhuvan’s son, Mahendra, ascends to the throne in 1955 and begins consolidating power.
The first parliamentary election is held under the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, drafted by the palace. The NC wins by a landslide and forms a government under BP Koirala. The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) comes a distant fourth.
Mahendra takes over, declares a state of emergency, suspends political parties and arrests BP Koirala and members of his cabinet.
The NC launches raids from bases in India. Armed action ends with the outbreak of the India-China War.
Mahendra introduces the Partyless Panchayat System under a new constitution which places the monarch at the apex of power. The CPN separates into pro-Moscow and pro-Beijing factions, beginning the pattern of splits and mergers that has continued to the present.
The 1854 Muluki Ain (Law of the Land) is replaced by the new Muluki Ain. The old Muluki Ain had stratified the society into a rigid caste hierarchy and regulated all social interactions. The most notable feature was in punishment – the lower one’s position in the hierarchy the higher the punishment for the same crime.
Following Mahendra’s death, Birendra becomes king.
A faction of the CPN announces the formation of CPN–Fourth Congress.
The CPN–Marxist-Leninist is established by another faction of communists.
Student-led protests break out against the Panchayat system. Birendra announces a national referendum, giving the people a choice between a ‘reformed’ Panchayat system and a multiparty system. The Panchayat system wins in a vote widely believed to have been rigged. BP Koirala accepts the results.
The first election with universal franchise is held under the Panchayat system.
The CPN–Fourth Congress splits into CPN–Fourth Congress and CPN–Mashal.
The CPN–Mashal splits into CPN–Mashal and CPN–Masal.
The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (the ‘First People’s Movement’) is launched jointly by the NC and the United Left Front, a grouping of communist parties. More radical communists join the movement as the United National People’s Movement. Following the king’s capitulation, a new democratic Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal is promulgated. Nepal is defined as multi-ethnic and multilingual but also Hindu kingdom. The CPN–Marxist-Leninist and the CPN–Marxist merge to become CPN–Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML). CPN–Fourth Congress and CPN–Mashal come together to form CPN–Unity Centre with Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ as General Secretary. Baburam Bhattarai leads a breakaway faction from CPN–Masal and joins the CPN–Unity Centre, which remains underground.
The first parliamentary election gives the NC a majority. The UML comes second, followed at a distance by the United Left Front, the political wing of the underground CPN–Unity Centre. BP Koirala’s brother, Girija Prasad Koirala, becomes prime minister.
The CPN–Unity Centre splits. In July, Girija Prasad Koirala dissolves parliament following internal dissension in the NC. The November mid-term election gives the UML a slight plurality, which forms a minority government under Manmohan Adhikari. The Prachanda faction of the CPN–Unity Centre boycotts the poll.
The Adhikari government loses a no-confidence motion and Sher Bahadur Deuba of the NC forms a coalition government in September with partners, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP – the political outfit of those who were part of the Panchayat system) and the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (NSP – a party fighting for the rights of Madhesis). The Prachanda faction of CPN–Unity Centre is renamed CPN–Maoist.
In February, Baburam Bhattarai of the CPN–Maoist (CPN-M) presents a 40-Point Demand to Sher Bahadur Deuba, warning of armed uprising if ignored. Nine days later the ‘People’s War’ begins.
Lokendra Bahadur Chand of the RPP becomes prime minister in March with the support of the UML. In October the RPP splits and Surya Bahadur Thapa becomes prime minister with the support of the NC and NSP.
The UML splits into the UML and the CPN-ML. Girija Prasad Koirala becomes prime minister in March, leading a minority government. The CPN-ML joins his government in August; in December it is replaced by the UML, and the NSP joins the coalition.
Nepal’s third general elections give the NC a majority and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai becomes prime minister.
Girija Prasad Koirala ousts Krishna Prasad Bhattarai to become prime minister.
June: The royal massacre: King Birendra and many members of the royal family are murdered in the palace by his son Dipendra. Birendra’s brother, Gyanendra, becomes king.
July: Girija Prasad Koirala resigns after the army fails to act against the abduction of police officers by the Maoists. Sher Bahadur Deuba becomes prime minister and announces a ceasefire with the Maoists.
August: The first peace talks between government and Maoists are held.
November: The ceasefire ends with the resumption of Maoist attacks on army installations. A State of Emergency is proclaimed and the CPN-M is declared a ‘terrorist organisation’.
May: Deuba dissolves parliament and calls for fresh elections to be held in November. Expelled from the NC, he forms a breakaway faction with the same name in June.
August: The terms of elected local government bodies come to an end and the central government decides against extending them.
September: Following the Election Commission’s decision not to recognise Deuba’s faction as the NC, he registers his party as the Nepali Congress–Democratic.
October: After Deuba recommends postponing parliamentary elections, King Gyanendra sacks him, postpones elections indefinitely and assumes executive authority. Lokendra Bahadur Chand is appointed prime minister.
January: A second ceasefire is announced.
April: A round of talks is held between the government and the Maoists.
May: Political parties begin to agitate for the restoration of parliament and the formation of an all-party government. Lokendra Bahadur Chand resigns.
June: Surya Bahadur Thapa is appointed prime minister.
August: The ceasefire ends and conflict resumes.
June: Sher Bahadur Deuba is appointed prime minister with the UML as coalition partner.
February: Deuba is dismissed for a second time by King Gyanendra, who takes direct control of the government.
May: The Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) of major political parties is formed.
November: The SPA and Maoists sign the 12-Point Understanding in New Delhi.
February: Municipal elections are boycotted by the SPA.
April: The ‘Second People’s Movement’ is launched against the king and achieves success in 19 days. Gyanendra reinstates parliament and Girija Prasad Koirala becomes prime minister. The CPN-M announces a ceasefire.
May: Parliament issues an 18-point proclamation stripping the king of all powers and declares Nepal a secular state.
August: The government and the Maoists send separate but identical letters to the Secretary-General of the United Nations requesting support for the peace process.
November: The Comprehensive Peace Accord is signed. The Maoists begin setting up cantonments.
January: An Interim Constitution is adopted and the parliament transforms into the ‘Legislature-Parliament of Nepal’. The first Madhes Movement, led by the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum–Nepal (MJF-N), begins in the Tarai against the Interim Constitution, demanding federalism. The UN Security Council authorises UNMIN to monitor the ceasefire and the management of arms and armed personnel, and to assist in the election of a constituent assembly.
April: The CPN-M joins government.
September: Maoist ministers quit government demanding the abolishment of monarchy. The NC and the NC-Democratic reunite as the NC.
December: The Interim Constitution is amended to include the statement – ‘Nepal shall be a federal democratic republican state’. Maoist ministers re-join government.
February: The second Madhes Movement is led by the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of Madhesi parties demanding a higher degree of proportional representation.
April: Elections to the Constituent Assembly are held. The CPN-M emerges as the largest party, followed by the NC, UML and the bloc of Madhesi parties. The arch-royalist RPP–Nepal gains only four seats out of 601.
May: The first sitting of the Constituent Assembly abolishes the monarchy.
July: Ram Baran Yadav, a Madhesi politician from the NC, is elected first president of Nepal and retired Supreme Court justice, Paramananda Jha, candidate of the Madhesi parties and also a Madhesi, is elected vice-president. Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda becomes prime minister in a coalition with the UML, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Nepal (MJF-N) and other smaller parties.
January: The CPN-M merges with the CPN–Unity Centre-Masal (formed through a merger of the CPN–Unity Centre and the CPN– Masal in 2002) to become the Unified CPN–Maoist (UCPN-M).
May: Prachanda resigns following the President’s refusal to back his dismissal of the army chief. Madhav Kumar Nepal of the UML becomes prime minister with the support of the Nepali Congress and the MJF-N. The National Interest Preservation Committee becomes the first of the 11 Constituent Assembly thematic committees to present a report on the new constitution.
June: The MJF-N splits; the faction that eventually becomes the MJF-Democratic supports Nepal’s government. The Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) also joins the government.
January: With the submission from the Committee on State Restructuring and Distribution of State Power, all reports of the thematic committees of the Constituent Assembly are in.
May: The tenure of the Constituent Assembly is extended by one year.
June: Madhav Kumar Nepal resigns. The election of a new prime minister fails amid disagreement among the three main parties – the UCPN-M, NC and UML. Sixteen inconclusive rounds of voting for Prime Minister are held through November.
January: UNMIN’s tenure comes to an end under growing resistance from the Nepali Army, the NC and UML. The UCPN-M hands over cantonments to the Special Committee for Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of the Maoist Army Combatants.
February: Jhala Nath Khanal of the UML is elected prime minister with the support of the UCPN-M.
May: The tenure of the Constituent Assembly is extended by three months.
August: Khanal resigns. Baburam Bhattarai of the CPN-M is elected prime minister. The tenure of the Constituent Assembly is extended by another three months.
November: The State Restructuring Commission is formed. The Supreme Court rules that the term of the Constituent Assembly can be extended one final time for six months.
February: The State Restructuring Commission submits its report. A minority group within the commission submits a separate report.
May: The Constituent Assembly is dissolved with no new constitution agreed.
June: In a major split in the UCPN-M, a hardline faction calling itself CPN–Maoist, led by Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’, walks out.
November: The distribution of voluntary retirement packages to Maoist combatants is completed.
March: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Khil Raj Regmi, becomes prime minister, heading an interim government of former bureaucrats amid protests against the same individual heading the executive and the judiciary.
November: Election to the second Constituent Assembly. The NC is the largest party followed closely by the UML, with the UCPN-M a distant third. The RPP-Nepal comes fourth, ahead of Madhesi and Janajati parties.
February: Sushil Koirala (cousin of BP and Girija Prasad Koirala) of the NC becomes prime minister with the UML as coalition partner.
February: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons are formed amid continuing controversy over amnesty for certain gross human rights violations.
April: A strong earthquake hits Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people.
June: Spurred by the earthquake emergency, the NC, UML, UCPN-M and MJF-D sign a 16-point agreement on contentious issues, including federalism, and agree to fast-track the constitution-drafting process. The MJF-D is thrown out of UDMF. The first draft of constitution is presented to the Constituent Assembly.
July: Protests by Madhesis against the draft constitution begin.
August: A revised draft of the constitution is presented. The MJF-D and other small Madhesi parties boycott the drafting process.
September: The Constitution of Nepal 2015 is promulgated. The Constituent Assembly transforms into Parliament. The UDMF intensifies protests and blocks off transit points along the India border. India stops essential supplies, citing the security situation.
October: Sushil Koirala resigns and is replaced by KP Sharma Oli of the UML, who leads a coalition government that includes the UCPN-M, RPP-Nepal and MJF-D. Bidhya Devi Bhandari of the UML is elected Nepal’s first woman President and Nanda Bahadur Pun aka Nanda Kishor Pun ‘Pasang’, Commander of the disbanded People’s Liberation Army, is elected Vice-President.
January: The Constitution of Nepal 2015 is amended to meet some of the demands made by the UDMF.
February: The UDMF ends the border blockade.
May: The UCPN-M merges with nine other Maoist parties and becomes the CPN-Maoist Centre.
July: KP Sharma Oli resigns. Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachandra becomes prime minister in a coalition government with the NC.
November: The Constitution Amendment Bill is presented in Parliament.