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Nepal's Ambassador to the United States to Discuss Country's Unstable Political Situation

January 25, 2011 — Nepal's ambassador to the United States, Shankar Prasad Sharma, will come to the University of Virginia on Jan. 31 to discuss his country's labored transition from a monarchy to a federal republic.

The 4:30 p.m. presentation in the auditorium of the South Lawn Commons Building is free and open to the public.

In 2006, Maoist fighters ended a 10-year insurgency that had killed more than 16,000 people, and the political situation in the South Asian country has been unstable ever since. The Constituent Assembly was formed after the fighting ended, and voted in 2008 to abolish Nepal's 240-year monarchy. However, it failed to write a new constitution by its May 2010 deadline and has set May 2011 as its new goal.

One major struggle has been the status of the 19,000-member Maoist fighting force. In a move hailed by the United Nations last week, Maoist political leaders gave up control of the fighters to a special government committee. Negotiators are discussing how the fighters will be returned to society or blended into Nepal's security forces.

Parliament is also deadlocked over the naming of a new prime minister. As a result, the country has been overseen by a caretaker government since June, when the previous prime minister stepped down under political fire from the United Communist Party of Nepal, the largest bloc in parliament.

Sharma's talk begins the University's spring 2011 Ambassadors' Speakers Forum, which is hosted by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs.

The series continues Feb. 9 in the Dome Room of the Rotunda with a talk by  Japan's ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki.

— By Jane Kelly

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