Internal party rifts in the Nepali government preoccupied leaders, who squandered opportunities to prepare a coherent response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic resulted in a four-month lockdown, with widespread economic and social consequences. The government’s response to criticism was to propose legislation restricting citizens’ rights, prompting accusations of creeping authoritarianism. Continued tensions along Nepal’s borders led to escalated rhetoric. The crises of 2020 exacerbated existing problems with governance, social inequality, and poverty.

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