Nepal Today

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

EB ambassador, PM Prachanda hold discussions; other details

By Bhola B Rana

Kathmandu, 23 April: EU ambassadors based in Kathmandu Thursday morning collectively held discussions with Prime Minister Prachanda following pressure on the Maoist-led government to sack with restraint in implementing a threat to sack Army Chief Gen Rukmangud Katawal.
EU ambassadors met Prachanda after party foreign advisor CP Gajurel revealed Wednesday the beleaguered government was also pressurized by India and USA.
They discussed the political impasse and its impact on the peace process following a standoff between the government, political parties and the army.
Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood met the prime minister almost daily after which the government announced Wednesday it will act on its threat to dismiss Katawal only after ‘studying’ his written response for an explanation within 24 hours on his ‘defiance’ of civilian orders.
Sood held discussions with the prime minister again Thursday.
The army chief told the government politely only the president and not the government could dismiss him.
In another embarrassing retreat, Prachanda also assured all political parties represented in parliament he will now act against the army chief only through ‘consensus’.
“Any decision taken will be based on consensus,” Prachanda said after first threatening unilateral action.
The standoff between The Maoist-led government and army has split CPN-UML, the main coalition partner of the Maoists in government.
A party faction led by Chairman Jhalanath Khanal and Home Minister Bamdeb Gautam were firmly behind the government; but a strong and influential section led KP Sharma Oli, close to min opposition Nepali Congress, opposed the Maoist move.
Dr Baburam Bhattarai who has taken a leading role to sack Katawal, met Oli Thursday to seek support to sack the army chief.
Following the split in CPN-UML, Khanal is returning from China Thursday, cutting short his 10-day visit, to discuss a common approach to the party and government crisis.
Prachanda will encounter strong pressure from within the party to implement his threat to dismiss Katawal after mobilizing Maoists on the streets against the army.
Maoists are now in am embarrassing situation; they have to satisfy the state army and 19,000 plus PLA combatants under watch by UN in 28 camps for integration and assimilation in society and the state army.
Main opposition Nepali Congress parliamentary party is meeting ahead of a regular session of parliament Thursday to discuss future strategy to against the Maoist-led government.
The party took a leading role in supporting the army against Maoists who have staged a temporary retreat after creating a political crisis.
Direct confrontation has for the first time come out publicly between the president and the prime minister with Maoists accusing the former Nepali activist of attempting to usurp limited powers of a constitutional head of state.
Even as Gen Katawal said only the president can dismiss him, 16 parties have asked President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to intervene constitutionally on behalf of the army.
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UNMIN chief, PM hold discussions


Kathmandu, 23 April: UNMIN Chief Karin Landgren held general discussions with Prime Minister Prachanda Thursday morning before leaving for New York Friday.
Discussions were held on the peace process, role of UN and delayed integration of Maoist combatants in the state army and society.
UN security council is discussing Nepal next week.
Mandate of UNMIN also ends in July.
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Terai strike continues for second day

Kathmandu, 23 April: A renewed strike by Tharus demanding delisting from Madeshi ethnic group paralyzed life in the south for the second consecutive day Thursday.
Demonstrators Wednesday vandalized a UN vehicle which also defied the strike call.
Demonstrators continued to vandalize vehicles that defied the strike Thursday.
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Nepal plays Malaysia in Elite Cup cricket tournament

Kathmandu, 23 April: Nepal meets Malaysia Thursday in the U-19 ACC Elite Cup cricket tournament hosted by Kuwait.
Nepal beat Saudi Arabia in its first outing Wednesday.
Nepal has lifted the cup four times.
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