Nepal Today

Thursday, April 28, 2011



Kathmandu, 29 April Maoist Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, in what is expected to be the last day of an extended party central committee meeting, Friday morning started replying points raised by standing committee, politburo and central committee members.
Chairman Prachanda Thursday responded to points raised at the committee on his amended political report to temporarily suspend a people’s war and push constitution writing and conclude the peace process to finally impose a communist state.
Baidya charged his party boss for ‘surrender’ and abandoning party policy of people’s revolt.
“Regressive forces are now conspiring to create a constitutional void by dissolving the constituent assembly. People want a constitution should be promulgated by the assembly. The need now is to concentrate on peace and constitution,” the Maoist chief reportedly said according to a committee member.
“I stick to the decision of the Palungtar plenum, but it will not be against the mandate of the plenum to follow the line of peace and constitution until 28 May,” another central member quoted the Maoist chief as saying.
The positions of Prachanda and Vice-chairman Dr. Baburm Bhattarai have come closer with the chief’s changed approach; Bhattarai is considered a liberal and Baidya a hardliner in Maoist ranks.
Secretary CP Gajurel said there’ll be no voting on two proposals and both ideas will be withdrawn adopting the line adopted by the Palungtar plenum.
The central committee meeting will continue with discussions on selecting remaining members of a government team and other issues.
Maoists have so far only sent a four-member team to government led by Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara.


Kathmandu, 29 April: Prime Mnister Jhalanath Khanal held talks overnight with his archrival and critic KP Sharma Oli at the latter’s residence for two hours, party sources said.
Oli, along with Madhav Kumar Nepal, have been opposing Khanal in meetings of party bodies.
Oli and Nepal are critical of Khanal’s ties with Maoists as they push for closer ties with NC.


Kathmandu, 29 April: Chitra Bahadur KC has been re-elected chairman of Rashtriya Janamorcha by a national convention in Pokhara Thursday.
A 31-member working committee of the splinter communist party was also nominated.
The party opposes a federal structure.


Kathmandu, 29 April Laxman Lohani died at his residence in Kamaladi Friday morning.
The songwriter was 78.
He was ailing for sometime.


Kathmandu, 29 April: A delayed parliamentary party meeting of ruling UML began Friday ahead of a budget session that has been convened by government amid protests of 11 parties, including main opposition NC.
The parties that don’t have a majority in parliament warned they’ll obstruct the presentation of the 2011/12 one month ahead of normal schedule.
The UMP parliamentary party was called off abruptly Tuesday citing Prime Minister Jhananath Khanal’s busy schedule amid charges the embattled government is chief is avoiding meetings of party bodies where he’s under heavy fire from a faction led by former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and KP Sharma Oli.
Khanal briefed the committee on government work and current political issues.
Khanal, who is also leader of the UML parliamentary party, has been accused for hobnobbing with Maoists.
The premier, who’s also party chairman, through a party notification also cancelled Wednesday’s central committee meeting convened by the standing committee.
Top leaders asked Khanal to immediately convene the cancelled meeting amid threats by them to start a signature campaign with majority support to convene it.
Khanal has even been threatened with ouster as party and government chief if his ties with Maoists aren’t snapped.


Kathmandu, 29 April: One person died and four were injured when a bus overturned at Itahari, Sunsari, overnight.
The injured were rushed to Dharan for treatment.


Kathmandu, 29 April: Fourteen persons were arrested following a raid Thursday night by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a house at Hattiban in Lalitpur.
Fake documents, including certificates and government stamps, were seized.


Kathmandu, 29 April A supreme court division bench Thursday issued an interim order directing government, including Department of Education, to stop private and boarding schools from collecting fees higher than government prescribed rates.
The move comes with the beginning of the new academic year when students rush to schools for admission.
The bench directed the government to monitor the situation.
The court asked schools not to sell unauthorized textbooks.
The apex court was responding to a public interest litigation filed by human rights groups asking it to curb costly education.


Kathmandu, 29April; Soccer world governing body FIFA has awarded Nepal $400,000 under a pilot three-year “Goal Football Project’ to upgrade its technical centers at Chyasal, Baluwatar and Dharan to upgrade the standard of the country’s most popular sport.
Nepal is among 10 countries selected for the project.
The money was earlier funneled through FIFA’s Second Goal Project.
A FIFA team led by David Morja, Senior Manager Development Programme Asia is in Nepal to observe the project.


“I will prioritize backlog corruption cases, but I will not issue verdicts in haste under the pretext of expediting backlogging cases.”

(Chief Justice-designate Khil Raj Regmi, Republica, 29 April)


Kathmandu, 29 April: Despite Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal’s keen desire to visit India at the earliest date, no major headway was achieved toward that direction during the meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two countries here in New Delhi on Thursday, Akanshya Shahwrites in Republica from New Delhi.

Although the visit of Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai was said to prepare ground for the prime minister´s intended visit, no date for the visit was fixed during talks Thursday.
Nepali ambassador to India, Rukma Shumsher Rana, who was present during the talks said, “Among many topics, the visit of the prime minister was discussed during the talks and both sides agreed to work out a timetable suitable to both the countries.”

Bhattarai reached New Delhi four days ago on the invitation of his counterpart Nirupama Rao during the latter’s visit to Nepal in January. However, the official talk was held only on Thursday.

“All high level exchange visits were discussed during the meeting,” Bhattarai told Republica after the talks. He refrained from commenting on the prime minister’s visit plan further.

India’s Foreign Minister S M Krishna during his Kathmandu visit from April 20 to 22 had re-extended Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s invitation to Khanal.
Stating that a whole gamut of bilateral issues was discussed with the Indian side, Bhattarai said, “A review of all bilateral framework on different sectors was taken up during the meeting and we agreed to strengthen all bilateral mechanisms.”

In this connection, the two sides have decided to hold a home-secretary level meeting next month in New Delhi.

The two sides also decided to expedite the meeting of inter-governmental commerce secretary talks and the much-delayed water resources (NCWR) talks.

Similarly, Bhattarai informed that discussions were held on the twin issues of line of credit and treaty on double-tax avoidance, which are already approved by the Nepali cabinet.

On the international front, the two sides discussed the role played by Nepal in the UN peacekeeping missions around the world.

“Since India now has a non-permanent member seat in the UN Security Council, we discussed the PKOs undertaken by Nepal.”

Likewise, India and Nepal will work closely on the issue of climate change and the threat posed by the global warming in the region, Bhattarai said. Climate Change is an issue pursued with priority by SAARC as well, which is working for close cooperation among the member states on the matter.

Bhattarai was accompanied by Hari Kumar Shrestha, South Asia and India Division chief at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Kathmandu, 29 April: Given the lax monitoring system and confusing legal arrangements governing manpower trade to Afghanistan, thousands of Nepalis continue to be duped and illegally trafficked to the war-torn country annually, The Kathmandu Post reports.

Officials aware of the trafficking racket say some underground networks of traffickers in Kathmandu, Dubai, Kabul and New Delhi have been operating the racket for quite some time now making the Dubai airport their main transit point.

An unofficial estimate has it that there are around 15,000 to 20,000 unskilled Nepali labourers, most of them illegal, currently working in Afghanistan under critical conditions, many of them in jails and out of contact with their families back home.

The Nepal government, however, remains largely unaware of the situation. As Nepal has no diplomatic presence in the country, any support is virtually inaccessible to Nepalis in trouble there.

Officials at the Nepali Embassy in Pakistan, which oversees Afghanistan, say the situation of Nepali workers in the country is “disturbing” and that it is getting harder for them to oversee the country from Islamabad.

“We have received information that Nepalis get trafficked in hoards to Afghanistan by agents via Dubai on duplicate visa. Most of them get caught in Kandahar and are sent to jail,” said Durga Bhandari, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Nepali Embassy in Islamabad. “Nobody knows how many Nepalis are in Afghan jails. We issue travel documents for their release and return home only when we are informed of it.”

Statistics at the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) show that it has issued permissions to only 4,286 Nepalis for employment in Afghanistan since 2002, which is way too low than the current estimate of 15,000 to 20,000. “The gap indicates a large number of illegal Nepali migrants could be working under exploitative conditions,” said Bhandari.

Some victims of this racket, who were interviewed by the Post in Kathmandu, said they paid up to Rs 250,000 to local agents who promised them employment in Afghanistan with wages as high as US$ 1,000 per month.

Krishna (name changed), 25, who recently returned from Dubai after being duped by an agent, said he paid Rs 180,000 for the job. “I flew to Dubai fully assured that I will be sent to Afghanistan within a week. But unfortunately, I was duped. I waited for two weeks at the airport hiding from security personnel, only to return home at last,” he said. “I am making a second attempt through another agent as I have no courage to return home broke and face the money lenders.”

In most cases, agents in Kathmandu tell their clients that “the other party” in Dubai will receive them and make arrangements for their travel to Afghanistan. “But, in most cases, no such party receives the workers,” said Ramesh, another victim, who returned after waiting two weeks at Dubai airport. He said he was duped by a Kathmandu-based agent named Nau Maya Ghimire in collusion with her Dubai-based husband.

There are, however, some instances where some illegally trafficked workers get placements in well paying companies and thus legalise their work. In an average, a successful unskilled worker fetches at least US$ 1,000 monthly, according to officials. “Only one lucky person out of 10 succeeds” said Ramesh.

“The stories of these successful few are what are luring many youths to risk their money and lives.” The Nepali Embassy in Islamabad said that in the last couple of weeks, it received information of arrests of about one-and-a-half dozen illegal Nepali migrants in Afghanistan. The embassy is working with the ICRC, Kabul, in helping out the Nepalis in trouble.

Manpower agents in Kathmandu say more and more Nepalis will continue to suffer unless the government clears the confusion in the labour trade and bring traffickers to book.

While the government says it has permitted sending workers in security companies, the manpower agencies are unaware of it. “The government seems to have been issuing work permits to Afghanistan secretly, or else we would have known,” said Kumud Khanal, General Secretary of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies.


Kathmandu, 29 April: UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ Thursday said that his party should be focused on presenting an integrated draft of the new constitution to the people before May 28 and trying to reach an agreement on the modality of army integration, The Rising Nepal reports.
The Maoist chief said this while clarifying to the queries made by the party leaders in course of the discussions over his political document that he presented in the Central Committee (CC) meeting.
"The chairman stressed on presenting a united draft of the new constitution to the people by May 28 by integrating the reports of the thematic committees of the CA," Maoist standing committee member Dev Gurung informed the reporters after the meeting held at the party’s head office at Paris Danda, Koteshwor.
Gurung said that the party chairman also asserted that the party should hold discussions with the other parties for making an agreement on modality of army integration so that the peace process moved ahead.
"The chairman argued that as we are the

largest party we have some responsibility to conclude the peace and constitution writing process and that we had to make our utmost effort from our side for the same," Gurung said.
The Maoist CC meeting had started on Friday when vice-chairman Mohan Baidhya ‘Kiran’ had also presented a separate political document disagreeing with the chairman’s proposal. Kiran tabled the report arguing that the chairman’s document had failed to uphold the mandate of the party’s sixth Plenum held in November last year at Palungtar of Gorkha district. The largest party had adopted a tactical line of people’s revolt in case the peace and constitution writing process failed despite party’s effort to make the historic process a grand success.
Gurung said that vice chairman Kiran and another vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai would also present their clarifications on the documents in the 7th day of the CC meeting on Friday. According to Maoist sources, the meeting would come to an end after the clarifications.


Meanwhile, Maoist Chairman and former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has said that an agreement was very close regarding army integration that creates a mixed force of the personnel from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and the Maoist combatants, The Rising Nepal adds.
In an interview with India’s The Hindu newspaper published in its online edition on Thursday, Prachanda said," Once there is an agreement, we can move for regrouping of combatants immediately."
The integration model floated by Nepal Army, is positive and encouraging, the Maoist chief said.
Regarding number of combatants to be integrated, Prachanda said that some special norms could be created and those who fit into the criteria may be integrated as a group.
Prachanda said that an agreement should be reached before May 28 regarding the timeline of combatant integration and unified draft of the constitution.
The Maoist chairman said that the PLA integration and constitution promulgation are interlinked and simultaneous process.
However, Prachanda said, "We agree that the constitution should be promulgated after the process of integration is over."
As the largest party in the CA, we are committed to taking the peace process forward and creating a unified draft of the constitution before May 28 so that the Nepali people believe these tasks will be completed, Prachanda said in the interview taken by Prashant Jha.
The absence of an agreement between political parties has limited that possibility of promulgation of constitution by May 28, Prachanda said.
But he added, "I won’t say it is impossible, because we have often made historic decisions at the last minute."
Responding to a query regarding the Maoist preference for a directly elected president as against NC’s stand for parliamentary democracy with PM elected by the House, Prachanda said that a directly elected president will act as a unifying force in a federal setup with potential tendency of seeking separation from the centre.
"Our model is also within the multi-party democratic system, and we hope others will accept it," said Prachanda.
On a query about his inconsistent nature, Prachanda said what he feels inside emerges outside. "If I am angry, I show it. If I am happy, I show it," he said.



Kathmandu, 29 April: Nepal Oil Corporation, which has slashed fuel import by 40 per cent, is on the verge of running out of its diesel and petrol stock, informed sources revealed to The Himalayan Times today [Thursday], according to Shiromani Dhungana ..

NOC’s Thankot depot, country’s second largest storage facility, is left with mere 1,100 kl of petrol and 1,800 kl of diesel.

The stock is barely enough to meet the need for the next two days before hitting, what NOC officials, call the ‘dead stock’ — the last 600 kl of petrol and 800 kl of diesel that cannot be pumped out for distribution and use.

But NOC officials privately confided to this daily that they had internally communicated, by word of mouth, to downplay the stock that is the lowest since 1990.

According to NOC sources, the looming fuel crisis is due to the government’s apathy. The state oil monopoly says it cannot ensure smooth supply unless it either receives loan from the government or the state raises the price of petroleum products substantially. But the Finance Ministry is saying it cannot give more loan to NOC at present, rather it may strictly ask the state oil monopoly to repay its loan.

“The Finance Ministry is writing to all public enterprises to pay their loans that have crossed the committed deadline,” revenue secretary Krishna Hari Banskota told THT. NOC owes Rs 11.14 billion to the ministry, he said. “The government has released Rs 2.63 billion loan this fiscal year alone. Since the ministry is facing a hard time to meet the revenue target, we are left with no other option than to ask NOC to repay the loan,” added Banskota. On the other hand, Ministry of Commerce and Supplies is seeking additional loan ‘to ease the supply’. “We are optimistic about receiving the loan from Finance Ministry,” said MoCS Secretary Purushottam Ojha.

However, a committee formed to study the price adjustment has not taken any decision fearing public protests. “If the government fails to take decision on reviewing the prices, it will further hit the state coffer,” said Banskota.

Meanwhile, leaders of the main opposition Nepali Congress today expressed concern about the scarcity of petroleum products. A group of NC leaders, including Nabindra Raj Joshi and Pramila Rai, who visited NOC, dubbed it a ‘centre of corruption’.


Kathmandu, 29 April: A Nepali choir due to sing at a Cornish festival are believed to have absconded from UK airport, The Himalayan Times reports.
Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival said the 10 singers were missing from Heathrow airport, the BBC reported.
Festival Chairman David Peters said immigration officials had been informed and they were probing.


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