Nepal Today

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Prime minister consults president, speaker amid standoff; complete communist takeover narrowly avoided

By Bhola B Rana

Kathmandu, 24 July: One day after the a second inconclusive in parliament to elect his successor caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal Saturday held separate consultations with President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and Speaker Subash Nemwang.
Nepal has held the caretaker position for nearly after one month after main opposition Maoists forced his resignation to form a government led by them.
But Maoists haven’t succeeded in getting either consensus or majority support in the 599-membr parliament.
Maoists unconvincingly claim a republican constitution can be promulgated and the delayed peace process completed only by a government led by them.
Fundamental differences between communists and liberal democrats are a stumbling block in completing the peace process and drafting the constitution.
This week Nepal was on the threshold of a complete communist takeover; UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal with Maoist support collected 391 votes—10 short of a two-third majority to form a communist government.
The message was clear: UML and Maoists, should they join hands, can form an elected communist government.
A faction in the party led by Nepal and KP Sharma Oli, prevented the takeover insisting Khanal be elected by a two-third majority eve though there’s no constitutional provision for it.
Nepal repaid Khanal who brought the UML-led government even though it enjoyed a parliamentary majority.
Speaker Nemwang told Nepal Saturday delay in forming government obstructed the constitution drafting process.
No work has been done in writing the constitution since the three parties decided amongst themselves to extend the elected two-year mandate of the constituent assembly (CA) by another one year until 28 May 2011.
Only 10 months remain for the constitution to be promulgated.
Third round election is scheduled on 2 August.
UML and a front of four terai parties boycotted the second vote Friday creating the stand off which will continue if the election is again boycotted—a distinct possibility.
Khanal told a meeting in the capital his party will again boycott the third round vote.
‘UML will stay neutral in the next election as well. The party can’t think of election in the present context. This is our position until the party decides otherwise,” Pradip Geywali, Chief of the party propaganda department said.
Defence Minister Bidya Bhandari and a firm supporter of Oli said Friday: “UML will not support the Maoists under any condition at present. It is better to give continuity to the current left-democratic alliance.”
She said this as Government Spokesman and Communications Minister Shanker Pokhrel predicted the caretaker Nepal government will hold on for another year.


$20 million ADB loan, grant; bank chief coming Monday

Kathmandu, 24 July: Asian Development Bank, Nepal’s largest multilateral donor, Friday approved a $20 grant, loan to improve urban transport system, reduce congestion and pollution in the capital, the bank announced.
The bank board approved a $ 10 million loan and a $10 million grant from its special fund for Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Programme.
The grant and loan were approved as Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda arrives on a four-day official visit Monday—the highest level visit by the Manila-based bank official to Nepal in 12 years.

Foreign minister Koirala demands secret documents

Kathmandu, 24 July: Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala has said the decision of her ministry took on MRPs isn’t transparent, Nagarik reports.
Under the Public Procurement Act 2063, the report of the evaluation committee is a secret. But she insisted she should have access to the report.
“I’m minister. Why shouldn’t I get the report even after repeated requests?” she told a meeting in the capital Friday.
A source close to the minister said last year then coordinator and Chief of Protocol Mohan Krishna Shrestha submitted a report to the minister bypassing rules.
‘The minister asked for paper taking that as a precedent.” Chief of Protocol Mukti Bhatta said.
“We’ve said rules don’t allow this,” a member of the evaluation committee said.
Sujata said the evaluation should be reconsidered.
(Note: The foreign ministry has already invited a French firm to print MRPs for its lowest bid. Sujata pushed the first deal overturned by the cabinet through direct negotiations with the Indian government. Rarely does a minister speak publicly against own ministry’s decision.)

PLA integration bone in gullet
Serious differences among political parties on the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants thwarted the UCPN (Maoist) bid to form a majority government on Friday, The Kathmandu Post.

The Maoists’ effort to form a government was further made difficult with the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), a coalition of Madhes-based parties, putting forward a number of demands, including ‘one madhes, one province’ and bulk entry of Madhesi community in security forces.

The Nepali Congress (NC) was the first one to ask the Maoists to agree on the number and modalities of integration, followed by the CPN-UML. The NC and the UML refused to support to the Maoists to form a Maoist-led unity government earlier as the latter failed to come up with a credible plan on integration. The Madhesi parties also took the same stance on the integration issue.

With the third round of the prime minister’s election scheduled for Aug. 2, political parties have 10 days to work for consensus. Unless the parties work out a magic formula, agreement seems elusive.

Both the NC and the Maoists could not address the demands of the UDMF.

The three major parties—NC, Maoists and UML—have been refusing to agree on an autonomous madhes province for long now.

And unless the UML changes its decision of not voting for a majority government, Madhes-based parties will remain key players for both the NC and the Maoists.

Chairman of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Upendra Yadav expressed optimism that they would have consensus, but said the parties must make a commitment on the ‘one Madhes one province’ issue. Maoist leader Dev Gurung said some points of a concept paper floated by the UDMF on Friday needs further discussion. According to Gurung, a meeting between the Maoists and the UDMF on Friday agreed to continue discussions on the UDMF’s concept paper and work out to forge consensus.

UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, who withdrew from the prime minister’s race in the last minute on Wednesday, said his party will stand by its central committee decision not to take part in the voting process until consensus is had for a national unity


Newars seek positions in KMC
Kathmandu, 24 July: Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) today [Friday] postponed the interview of candidates for the posts of 23 on gazetted officers in the wake of protests from Newar commintity, The Himalayan Times reports.
Newa Swatya Rajya Manka Sagharsha Samiti (NSRMSS) had forced to shut down all the 35 ward offices of KMC indefinitely since Wednesday putting forth a five-point demand that included appointment of Newar staff in the vacant posts at KMC.

According to KMC, the protest was launched after the publication of results of the tests in 2007 to fill 23 vacancies at KMC. Of the 29 candidates qualified for the interview, only a single candidate from the Newar qualified.

TU succeeds finally
Kathmandu, 23 July: After ovear18 years of relentless struggle, Tribhuvan University (TU), the country’s largest varsity, has succeeded in doing away with the Proficiency Certificate Level (PCL) meant for post-high school students, Republica reports.
As 13 student unions and the Ministry of Education (MoE) struck an eight-point pact on Friday following a series of talks the last obstacle to TU’s decision to phase out PCL has been removed.
With grades XI and XII being an extended form of school education internationally, the country’s oldest university, which is resolved to devote much of its strength to university education and research, had decided in 1992 to phase out PCL.


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