Nepal Today

Monday, April 21, 2008

No Maoist majority in direct votes
By Bhola B Rana
Kathmandu, 21 April: Maoists have been denied a majority a majority in direct elections in the 10 April for constituent assembly election.
They have bagged only 120 of the officially announced 239 seats and la behind in vote counting in vote counting in the last constituency.
Final result in expected later Monday.
Maoists will be the single largest party in the assembly..
Kamala Sharma, widow of CPN-UML candidate Rishi Sharma killed during electioneering, was elected from Surkhet.
Maoists lead in vote counting in indirect elections collecting 30 percent plus votes.
Altogether 21 of 54 parties that contested elections will be represented in CA calculated on one seat for 32,000 votes in indirect elections for 335 seats.
Meanwhile, Speaker Subash Newang has begun consultations on convening the constituent assembly meeting.
He held discussions Sunday with Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokhrel and former CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Inglorious departure of Indian ambassador

By Bhola B Rana
Kathmandu, 21 April: Indian Ambassador Shib Shankar Mukherjee wanted to return home and take up a new assignment as India’s high commissioner in Great Britain on a triumphant note by installing Nepali Congress of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and ‘moderate communists’ CPN-UML to power following CA elections.
But Maoists have been swept to power leaving New Delhi perplexed; they are still fuzzy on how to handle elected former rebels who have turned foe.
Mukherjee was given the task to ‘manage ‘ the election but the results didn’t cooperate with him.
Rakesh Sood, is flying in from Kabul later Monday to replace Mukherjee in what promises to take up a tricky assignment for managing India’s interests with Maoists in control, weekly newspaper Tarun reported Monday.
Mukherjee was asked to stay on and oversee elections even after his official appointment to London.
Just at that time, published reports said the ambassador’s wife was involved in a shoplifting incident at a departmental store—a report denied by the embassy but not the store.
The embassy even asked the foreign ministry to issue a denial—a demand that the government never met.

Nepal to ban food exports

Kathmandu, 22 April: Nepal will ban the export of grains as government expects a food crisis with spiraling price of rice, Nepal Samacharpatra reports.
Rice is the country’s staple crop.
A government agreement to ban exports was reached Sunday.

Difference in Maoist rank on how to handle king

By Bhola B Rana

Kathmandu, 22 April: Differences have emerge din the upper Maoist echelon on how to handle monarchy after their electoral victory in assembly elections.
CPN (Maoist) has emerged as the largest party in the 601-member assembly and has staked a claim to form government.
Maoists are confused on how to handle monarchy.
The royal palace Sunday denied national and foreign reports King Gyanendra was leaving the country.
The denial came even as Chairman Prachanda said there will be an honourable place for the king if he leaves voluntarily to make way for a republic. His deputy Dr Baburam Bhattarai even said the king even be given cultural responsibilities.
This was promptly denied by two militants in the CPN (Maoist)—Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ and Barsha Man Pun.
‘The king won’t be given any responsibility,” Badal said.
Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, the biggest parties after Maoists in the CA, may not join Maoists in any government they head.
CPN-UML has already quit government following the election verdict and Congress rank and file have urged the party not to join a Maoist-led government.
‘They need a two-thirds majority to form a government. They don’t even have a simple majority,” Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat (Conresss) of the transitional government said.
Pun told state –owned Radio Nepal Maoists are keen to draft a constitution within one year ahead of two and half years given in an interim legislation.
With a mood of non-cooperation in the Congress, amid charges of widespread poll rigging by Maoists, it may take even longer than 30 months to draft a basic law.
“Two-third majority is needed to approve every article. There’s a provision for a referendum if there’s no agreement,” top Congress leader Hom Nath Dahal said.
The charge of rigging has come too late.
The government headed by the party which also controlled the home ministry called elections despite the lack of a secure internal environment under Indian and US pressure even as the countryside was under Maoist control and the tarai was sunder the thumbs of rebels in the south.
International observers have given their stamp of approval, including Jimmy Carter and EU observers.
Besides, the Maoist strength is so overwhelming in the CA the opposition has very little room to play except filibuster.
Another CA election will be a mockery.
Maoists and Nepal face difficult times ahead.


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