Nepal Today

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ruling parties back firm stand against Madesh demands; other details

By Bhola B Rana

Kathmandu, 23 Feb: Seven ruling parties Saturday backed a government dialogue team decision to reject a demand for one Madesh, one province creating a crisis for the government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala whose dream to hold a 10 April constituent assembly election will be shattered.
Seven parties rejected the demands for self-determination as well of Madesh and other groups.
“Government can’t meet the demands,” the parties said.
Government said it was ready to meet demands for federalism, declaration of people killed in the terai as martyrs saying it will be ‘flexible’ to other demands.
A statement issued after the seven-party meet again issued an invitation to groups for talks.
The credibility of Koirala and his government will be questioned after failure to conduct the vote.
A two-day donor meeting that concluded Friday linked assistance to the election.
A crippling and bloody strike pushed by a three-party terai front demanding self-determination and provincial autonomy enters its 11th day Saturday with a Madesh leader ruling out a negotiated agreement settlement with government for a 10 April assembly election.
“The situation in the country has reached a serious turn,” a meeting of CPN (Maoist) concluded Saturday.
Curfew in some terai towns, including Nepalgunj completed one week Saturday; it continued in Biratnagar, the hometown of prime Girija Prasad Koirala.
Talks first brokered by India at the Indian embassy to the protest of Maoists who first negotiated a 12-point agreement with seven parliamentary parties in New Delhi in before April 2006 for a regime change.
Protests from other quarters have also been criticized.
“The government couldn’t under stand our feelings,” Madesh Janatantrik Forum chairman Upendra Yadav said.
Yadav rejected participation in the 10 April elections and said the three parties will not submit a closed a list candidates under indirect election for proportional representation system Sunday.
“We won’t participate in election,” Yadav said. the only alternative if for the government to hold elections with the deployment of army.
Protests and violence continued in the terai Saturday and amid shortage so fuel, government started the movement of tanker convoys under armed security escort.
Desperate people facing fuel shortages have started hi-jacking oil tankers as supplies run out.
Seven ruling parties are meeting Saturday to discuss a government crisis and a common approach.
Meanwhile, Tharu Welfare Council, have opposed a one Madesh, one province and resumed aa strike mainly in the mid-west region; Tharus have rejected provincial demands although they live in the south mainly in five districts in the mid and far-West.
Even with the setback to government ruling parties continue to give final touches to a list of candidates that has to be submitted by Monday for election under first-past-the-post system.
Youth in the Nepali Congress have protested their denial of tickets for the election; dissatisfaction in the distribution of tickets have surfaced in other parties as well.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janasakti Party of Surya Bahadur Thapa clarified it hasn’t boycotted elections.
“We will be the first to participate in elections provided an atmosphere is created for the vote. The election can’t be held with held of people not participating,” party vice-chairman Dr Prakash Chandra Lohini said.
Mediation by Indians within the Indian embassy has come under stong criticism.
‘How appropriate is it to discuss issues of national importance inside an embassy?” asked Rajecsh Acharya of the Nepali Congress and former ambassador to China; he is brother of Mahesh Acharya, who was one of the Nepali negotiators of behalf of premier Koirala.
“What sent these people to the embassy?” asked left intellectual Gobinda Bhatta.
‘This is a naked demonstration of force,” civil society leader Dr Debendra Raj Pandey said on Indian mediation efforts.


Maoist, Marxist merge

Kathmandu, 23 Feb: CPN (Marxist) merged with CPN (Maoist) Friday for revolutionary unity.
Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’ and general secretary of Marxist Tika Hamal signed a merger document.

Chakra Bastola not contesting election

Kathmandu, 23 Feb: A dissatisfied former foreign minister and top Congress leader Chakra Bastola isn’t fighting constituent assembly elections.
Bastola is a nephew of prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala towhom the decision has been conveyed.
“I stand by my decision although the prime minister told me to change by decision,” Bastola said.
Bastola has been contesting elections from Jhapa from 1990.
There are reports Bastola may quit the party as well.
He is dissatisfied with the conduct of Sushil Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba and other top party leaders.

Rs 500 levy for every worker

Kathmandu, 22 Feb: The government has started levying Rs 500 for each migrant worker as a contribution to the Foreign Employment Welfare Fund that is being used for the benefit of themselves and their families, The Himalayan Times reports.
The number of Nepalis going abroad to work increased by 27 percent in the first seven months of the current fiscal year 2007/08 compared to the same period of the last fiscal year, The Kathmandu Post reports.
According to the data compiled by the Department of Labour, a total off 132,812 workers left for overseas employment during the period ending mid-February.
There were 104,606 departures last year.


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