Nepal Today

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

GOVT. NOT TO FUND FOREIGN TRIPS

Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: Following a financial crunch without the presentation of full budget even by the end of September, cabinet Tuesday decided not to finance foreign trips of ministers and officials until presentation of a new budget.
Communication Minister Shanker Pokhrel made the announcement after a cabinet meet.
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RS. 16B IN NA WELFARE FUND

Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: There’s Rs 16 billion balance in Nepali and foreign currency in the Nepal Army’s (NA) welfare fund, according to Brig. Gen. Purna Chandra Thapa, Chief of the Directorate of Welfare Schemes.
“Four billion has yet to be reimbursed from UN peacekeeping missions,” Thapa said.
The money has been deposited in 60 financial institutions, mainly commercial banks yielding a Rs 930 million interest.
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NC CHIEF SECRETARY RESIGNS

Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: NC Chief Secretary, Jivan Prem Shrestha, a close associate of Sher Bahadur Deuba, resigned Tuesday.
He was defeated in last week’s election for the central working committee.
Panel of President Sushil Koirala swept elections.
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$2M UN GRANT FOR NEPAL

Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valarie Amos announced a $2 million grant to UN agencies in Nepal to fund seven life-saving humanitarian projects.
The money will be funded through Central Emergency Relief Fund.
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NC ready to pull out of PM's race

Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: Nepali Congress is keeping all options open, including withdrawal from the ongoing prime ministerial race, to end the current political deadlock. The party will hold talks with the Unified CPN-Maoist tomorrow to find a way out of the deadlock, Prakash Acharya writes in The HimalayanTimes..

However, the party said at least the three major parties would have to reach an agreement on prominent issues of the peace process and new constitution before it took a decision.

A meeting of the party’s top leaders held today at its Parliamentary Party office in Singha Durbar, took the decision to this effect. The parliament has failed to elect new prime minister even after eight rounds of polling. NC’s Ram Chandra Paudel is the sole contender in the race after Unified CPN-Maoist’s Pushpa Kamal Dahal withdrew his candidacy on Sunday. The PM’s post has been lying vacant since Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned on June 30.

The ninth round of polling is slated for Thursday.

NC will prepare a draft of the party’s bottom-line by tomorrow morning to end the political stalemate. The party’s top leaders will again meet tomorrow morning to finalise possible alternatives, according to sources. “We will hold a meeting with Unified CPN-Maoist tomorrow. Talks with CPN-UML and other parties will continue,” said NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC.

NC PP leader Ram Chandra Paudel said, “We will hold talks with big as well as fringe political parties to resolve the crisis.” He, however, said the consensus would not be achieved until the parties agreed to address its concerns on peace and constitution.

KC said, “We are ready to withdraw from the prime ministerial race. But we can neither form a new consensus government nor address the national problems without reaching an agreement on the issues of peace and new constitution. Our talks will focus on that.”

“Both — withdrawing from the race for PM without a concrete agreement and sole candidate continuing the race — are meaningless. The only way out is to reach consensus on main agendas,” KC said.

Paudel, new general secretary Prakash Man Singh and other leaders — Arjun Narsingh KC, Bimalendra Nidhi, Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Mahesh Acharya and Laxman Prasad Ghimire — were present during the meeting. NC leaders’ meeting followed a meeting of the top-brass of major political parties called by Constituent Assembly Chairman Subas Nembang at his office. The meeting was attended by the leaders of UCPN-M, NC, CPN-UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front. It had ended inconclusively.
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PM asks acting CEC to elaborate stance

Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Tuesday asked the Acting Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nilkanta Upreti to explain his remarks that the electoral roll used during the 2008 Constituent Assembly election had listed 25 to 30 percent more voters than the actual number of eligible voters, Kamal Raj Regmi writes in The Kathmandu Post..

The prime minister’s move follows a strong objection from the Madhes-based parties over Upreti’s remarks on Monday.

Upreti, however, defended himself saying that his claims were based on EC reports and that in the absence of any other document, citizenship certificate is the only credible basis for a new electoral roll. As the head of a constitutional body, the CEC is outside the purview of the government.

“We strongly believe that citizenship certificate can be the only credible basis for preparing new electoral roll. But if the government can give us any other credible basis, we are ready to accept it,” Upreti told the Post.

The Madhes parties, which have demanded that citizenship should not be the basis for preparing a new electoral roll, have been obstructing the EC project to update the electoral roll.

Upreti, however, said the electoral roll project was started with the consent of the political parties, including the Madhes-based ones.

On Tuesday, leaders of Madhes-based parties had asked the prime minister to inquire of the EC about the media reports that quoted Upreti as saying that the old roll was found to have listed around 5 million voters than the actual number.

Upreti said the old list showed a higher number of voters because of multiple voter registration of a single

person and failure to delete names of the dead and those who had migrated to another country, and those who were listed on fake citizenship certificates.

According to EC records, of the total 17.9 million voters listed in the old roll, only 10.5 million voted, which Upreti said, is an indication that the roll had listed more names than the actual. The Madhes-based parties have warned that they would not accept the new list unless it is prepared after distributing citizenship certificates in the Tarai through yet another campaign. Home Ministry officials say a new citizenship campaign in such a short span of time will have serious implications on national security. The government had distributed 2.6 million citizenships through a nationwide door-to-door campaign before the electoral roll was prepared for the CA polls.

The Madhes-based parties have demanded that the old list prepared before the CA polls be the main basis for the new electoral roll instead of citizenship. Upreti, however, questioned the rationale: “Why should we prepare a new electoral roll if we are to copy and paste the same old list?” The Madhes-based parties, however, argue that there should be no problem in making the old roll a basis if the EC is to prepare a new one with photograph of each individual. “Besides, if the citizenship has to be the basis, the government should first issue a public notice asking people to take citizenships before preparing a new roll,” said Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato.

He also argued that since the information collected for the new roll is going to be used in issuing national ID cards, it must be prepared after distributing citizenship certificates to those who have not acquired it them yet.

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IMPASSE WORSENS AMID NC STAND

Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: The protracted deadlock has become further complicated as leaders from major political parties stuck to their respective stances and failed to make any headway at a meeting called by Speaker Subash Nemwang on Tuesday, Thira L. Bhusal writes in Republica.
The meeting was convened with the objective of pushing the leaders to end the protracted deadlock in government formation, constitution writing and the peace process.
UCPN (Maoist) and UML leaders urged Nepali Congress (NC) prime ministerial candidate Ram Chandra Paudel to withdraw his candidacy and pave the way for forging consensus among the parties on electing a new prime minister.
But Paudel turned down the proposal outright. He said he would pullout of the race only after settling contentious issues surrounding the peace process.
“Implementation of past agreements on the peace process is a precondition for creating the environment for power sharing. We must do that before we enter into the agenda on government formation.” Paudel told reporters outside the speaker’s chamber at Singha Durbar, where the meeting convened.
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SENATORS APPEAL HILLARY CLINTON


Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: While the US ban on inter-country adoption from Nepal continues, a group of U.S. Senators and members of the House last week sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling on her department to expedite the approval of cases that are close to being decided, The Kathmandu Post reports.

“These families are enduring extreme emotional and financial burden while their adopted children’s cases are being investigated further,” the American newspaper Chicago Tribune quoted the lawmakers’ letter as saying.

In August, the United States banned inter-country adoptions from Nepal citing malpractices in the process. The U.S. has the highest number of adoptive parents vying to adopt Nepali kids.

At least 82 American adoptive parents have already been affected following the ban. Despite approval from the ministry, some 12 adoptive parents are stranded in Kathmandu after the U.S. Embassy here refused to move the adoption petition files.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) Tilak Ram Sharma said the ministry is doing homework

to make the inter-country adoption process more reliable along with

the formation of a high-level committee under the Secretary to the ministry. “The government will act in accordance with the recommendations of the committee to make the adoption process more transparent,” Sharma said.

Officials admitted that overhauling the whole adoption process was a Herculean task. “However, the ministry will do its best to comply with the Hague Convention on adoption,” Sharma added. Asked what the Nepali government can do to lessen the pain of adoptive parents, Sharma said the government has done its part and that the final decision is not in Nepal’s hands. “The decision on whether to allow their citizens to adopt Nepali children must be taken by the respective countries,” Sharma said.

According to ministry officials, at least 106 new applications

from American parents have already been rejected following the ban. Not only Americans, many prospective parents from other countries

also have been affected as the U.S. ban follows similar restrictions declared by Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain.

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57 JUDICIAL KILLINGS IN TERAI

Kathmandu, 29 Sept.: The heads of the missions of the EU, Norway, Switzerland have expressed their deep concerns over alleged extra-judicial killings by security agencies in the Tarai where myriads armed groups have threatened law and order, Republica reports.
The diplomats from the European countries became alarmed over the rights situation in the southern plains after the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal accused the security agencies of committing extra-judicial killings in the region.
OHCHR-N, UN rights body, in its report released last week said it documented 57 extra-judicial killings allegedly committed by security forces in the terai between January 2008 and June 2010. It also recommended to investigate the abuses and address the problem of impunity in the region.
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