POLITICAL SITUATION, SECURITY AND SAFETY

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Over the past 15 years there had been much instability. Many political parties have sprung up. The Maoist people’s party achieved power in many regions of Nepal and has now become part of the main stream of political parties. Many other groups with affiliations to particular ethnic and language groups have also been active.

A few years ago there were many violent confrontations, mainly with police, army and active political nationals. Occasional similar events continue but the country has been far more stable in recent years. There are certain districts that were more active and for this reason we avoided until recently. There have to our knowledge been no threats or politically motivated violent attacks upon foreigners. There have been a few isolated ‘muggings’ and some demands for money (‘tax’) from trekkers and mountaineers.

Tour companies continue business as usual. Tourist trade has now returned.

In early 2007 the various political factions agreed to sit and write a new constitution, the Maoists were a party to this, so there was much less agitation and a cease fire agreement was made.
In 2008 elections were finally held, the Maoists achieved the majority and set up the government and, alongside the other principal political parties formed a commission to write the new national constitution, over the next 2 years. This led to a peaceful period other than a few incidents with some of the tribal/language minorities.
In 2009 there was disagreement between the Maoist party and the other parties regarding the army and also minorities who want to form a federalised state to recognise the different tribal, and language groups; the Maoists left government and the other parties formed a coalition. Despite these major political difficulties and recent strikes the tourists have been returning in vast numbers and the country has been generally more stable. There are signs of on-going development, particularly building work everywhere.

Since then the electoral commission has extended the deadline for the writing of a new constitution several times. There still seems to be an impasse (2012).

Nepal is now a republic. The royal family was ousted from power and from the royal palaces. The royals had lost much credibility following the much-publicised massacre of most family members including his father the king (Birendra) by the Crown prince (Dipendra), who also shot himself and died shortly afterwards. There were many rumours of plots behind this, but it seems to have been simply rogue violence and disaffection with his family. The initial result was that the only remaining members of the family briefly came into power. Gyanendra became king and responded to the ineffectual and perhaps corrupt fledgling democratic government by dissolving parliament and taking back power himself. This retrograde step was deeply felt by the Nepali people and other influential nations and eventually his position became untenable and he left the palace. There was also concern about succession because his son Paras was said to be unpopular. Prior to this the Nepalese had venerated their kings as incarnations of a Hindu deity.

You can obtain up to date information from amongst others:
- British Embassy in Kathmandu phone Nepal: 01 410583/411281
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BBC world website, Nepal profile
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British Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office
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The World FactBook
- Nepali newspapers and magazines also publish on the web, many in English.
- Also, check our
Nepal Data page


TRAVEL SAFETY

International flights with reputable airlines are safe. Although
Kathmandu Airport is in a deep valley with the Himalayas to the North, it now has instrument landing systems and there are numerous international flights.

Internal flights vary from the regular routes such as to and from Pokhara to the much more adventurous into remote and often mountainous areas.

Some of the planes and helicopters are elderly and there are occasional serious incidents. Pilots are generally very cautious and will not fly if weather conditions are in doubt.

Road travel is variable, the limited road system is expanding rapidly and main routes are getting busier. Most roads are single carriageway. The roads in remoter areas are often gravel and can be prone to flooding and landslides, delays are not uncommon. Sometimes there are political strikes and roads are closed, usually for less than one day.

Travel in our camps vehicles is as safe as we can make it; we have good regular drivers and well-maintained vehicles such as Land Rovers, mostly four-wheel drive.

Travel in local and tourist buses is generally safe but it is best to avoid night buses.

Nepalis are famed for their honesty so crime is very infrequent but it is being reported more often, especially in tourist areas and on some treks. Caution with belongings is wise.


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