Nepal Today

Sunday, March 31, 2013

NEPAL HOSTS AFC U-14 FROM TUESDAY Kathmandu, 1 April: : Nepal will host the Group C qualifying matches of the AFC U-14 Championship at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu Tuesday. Nepal will play Bhutan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan in Group C qualifiers. Uzbekistan and the Maldives, who were in the same group, have pulled out of the tournament. Teams have been dividedinto eight groups. Winners of all the groups will qualify for the final rounds. Nepal has selected a 20-memebr squad. ear Shrestha and Mrigendra Mishra as the coaches of the Nepali U-14 team. ANFA had announced a 20-member youth team on Saturday. Nepal will take on Afghanistan in the opening match of the qualifying round. The grouping is new and was announced by Asian Football Confederation to popularize the sport. Nnnn TIBET TEAM IN TOWN Kathmandu, 1 April: A delegation from Tibet headed by Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) arrived in Kathmandu Sunday to explore prospects for further cooperation wuth neighbouring. Niepal I trade and tourism.and trade. Liu Kin, deputy director general of the office, leads the team. Discussions are scheduled with officials of the foreign and local development ministries. nnnn MONDAY MORNING CAPITAL TEMPERATURE 11 DEGREES CELSIUS Kathmandu, 1 April: Monday morning temperature in the capital is Expected to be 11 degrees Celsius. Mercury in the afternoon is expected to rise to 28 degrees Celsius. nnnn PROPOSED CHANGES IN ELECTION RULES MAKE ELECTION DIFICULT FOR FRINGE PARTIES Kathmandu, 1 April:: The proposed Elections to Constituent Assembly Ordinance prepared by the Election Commission that has made it tougher for the fringe parties to get a seat under the proportional representation system has raised the hackles of the fringe parties, Ram Kumar Kamat writes in The Himalayan Times. . Section 68 of the proposed ordinance requires a party to secure at least 1.5 per cent of the valid votes polled in the first past the post system to get one seat in the PR system. In the all-party meeting called by the Election Commission here today, small outfits demanded that the threshold should be reduced. Chairman of the Dalit Janajati Party, Bishwendra Paswan, told mediapersons that the fringe parties might boycott the elections if parties were required to poll so many votes for a seat in the PR system. “This is a gross injustice against fringe parties. This is a ploy to abolish fringe parties,” he said. He concluded that under the new proposal a fringe party that polls 1,49,999 votes in FPTP and loses may not get a PR seat, whereas in the last polls, a PR seat was guaranteed if a party polled 23,000 votes. Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety said they received some vital suggestions which would be reviewed tomorrow. “We will send the draft ordinance to the government by tomorrow,” he added. Asked whether the EC would reduce the threshold for the fringe parties, he said in democracies such thresholds are fixed up to 10 per cent and Nepal’s democracy was not fundamentally different from other democracies. “Our proposal could be altered by the government, the four-party mechanism and finally the President,” Uprety told mediapersons after the meeting. He said EC proposed the 1.5 per cent threshold with the view to consolidate like minded fringe parties. “This threshold will prevent fragmentation of small outfits and encourage alliance between those who share ideological affinities,” Uprety clarified. CPN-UML leader Agni Kharel said while the threshold could still be debated, it must be there. Even NC and CPN-UML did not support the fringe parties. Their other concerns • EC’s proposal to reveal the source of income for every expenditure of more than Rs 25,000 and details of party’s economic status at the time of registration of the candidacy. “The EC does not have a mechanism to measure the candidates’ expenses. If a candidate spends Rs 25,000 on party’s cadres’ meal, the EC does not have any mechanism to measure it,” Thapaliya said. • The raising of candidates’ deposit fee from Rs 3,000 to 5,000 under FPTP and from 10,000 to 25,000 under the PR system • Reduction of CA seats from 601 to 491 and the ratio of proportional representation. • The proposal to list Brahmin, Chhetri and Dashnami as ‘others’ Nnnn TASK FORCE TO NAME UCPN MAOIST CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS Kathmandu, 1 April: The Central Committee meeting of the Unified CPN-Maoist today Sunday] formed a six-member task force under the leadership of Krishna Bahadur Mahara to recommend the names of the Central Committee members in addition to the existing 98 members and three new entrants from the CPN-Maoist., TIka Pradhan writes in The Himalayan Times. The task force includes Girirajmani Pokhrel, Janardan Sharma, Devendra Poudel, Hisila Yami and Rekha Sharma. The party has adopted a unique way to select the Central Committee members. It will send the leaders to different parts of the country, where they will have to prove their qualification to excel in leading the organisation while training the cadres. Of the 240-member seventh national congress organising committee, 236 members were present during today’s meeting. The congress held at Hetauda has already endorsed the names of 98 Central Committee members and they will become full central members, including the new entrants from the CPN-M. According to Spokesman Agni Sapkota, the upcoming meeting of the Central Committee scheduled for May 15 after a month-long programme will finalise the CC members. Chief Secretary Hitraj Pande will present the party’s records of the state committees by April 7. Party will organise mass meetings and political trainings in different parts of the country regarding the election campaign and programmes and strengthening the party organisation. As per the schedule, party will hold mass meet of Newa and Tamsaling State Committees at Dharke in Dhading on April 6 and training on April 7, Magarat and Tamuwan State Committees will hold a mass meet on April 9 and training on April 10 at Baglung, Far Western Bureau will hold a mass meet on April 22 and training on April 23 at Bardiya, Eastern Bureau will hold a mass meet on May 1 and training on May 2 at Itahari and the Madhes Bureau will hold a mass meet on May 4 and training on May 5 at Sarlahi. Party had decided to form a collective production and distribution bureau for which a task force has been formed under the leadership of Girirajmani Pokhrel. The task force includes Shakti Basnet, Dharma Dutta Devkota and Dilli Khanal. Nnnn NEPAL ADVANCES TO WORKD T20 QUALIFIERS Kathmandu, 1 April:: Pursuing its World Cup dream, Nepali cricket team has inched closer to the World T20 Cup 2014 to be held in Bangladesh after advancing to the World T20 Qualifiers to be held in the UAE in November, thanks to its semifinal qualification in the ACC T20 Cup on Sunday, Mabin Kjatiwada writes in Republica.. Nepal registered the biggest ever T20 victory in terms of run margin against Singapore at the TU Cricket Ground on Sunday to secure berth in the World Cup Qualifiers for the second time in a row. The top 16 associate members of International Cricket Council (ICC) will compete in the qualifiers. Of them, the top six teams will qualify for the World T20 Cup. Nepal had finished seventh in the last edition of the qualifiers. Nepal elected to bat and put up a mammoth 210/5 in 20 overs as the middle-order batted brilliantly adding 133 runs in the last 10 overs. The 210-run total is the biggest T20 score by Nepal so far. Nepal´s previous biggest total in T20 was the 183 runs scored against Saudi Arabia in the last edition of the tournament in 2011 in Kathmandu. In reply, Singapore was all out for 89 runs in 15.1 overs as four Nepali spinners shared seven wickets to seal the 121-run victory. Nepal´s previous biggest win in terms of runs was the 95-run victory over Saudi Arabia in 2011, while the team´s biggest win in terms of wickets is the nine-wicket victory over Singapore in 2009. "It was a team effort and I´m happy, but we still have a long way to go," said Nepali captain Paras Khadka, who was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his 44 runs off 25 balls. Following the win, Nepal reached the semifinals of the ACC T20 Cup as the runner-up of Group A, where Hong Kong is at the top of the table with four victories in the group stage. Hong Kong had defeated Nepal by six wickets in the group stage. Nepal will take on the UAE in the semifinal on Tuesday while Hong Kong will lock horns with Afghanistan. UAE has topped Group B with four wins while Afghanistan is the runner-up with three victories. Nepal and Hong Kong secured tickets to the World T20 Qualifiers as semifinalists. Afghanistan by virtue of its ODI status and the UAE as the host have already booked their berths in the qualifiers. Nnnn NO FINANCIAL CRUNCH FOR NAIONAL PRIDE PROJECTS Kathmandu, 1 April: Though the upcoming full-fledged budget won´t make any change in major economic policies, Finance Minister Shankar Prasad Koirala has said current expenditure and national pride projects won´t face shortage of funds, Republica reports.. “Holding a free and fair election is our main target. But we will arrange sufficient budget for the implementation of national pride projects and regular expenses of urgent nature,” Koirala told an interaction organized by Society of Economic Journalists-Nepal (SEJON) on Sunday. Koirala also said the government will allocate around Rs 10 billion, including Rs 2 billion for security purposes, for the proposed general election. “Holding general election, promoting good governance and accelerating economic activities in the country are among the top priority programs of the government,” he added. At a time when trade deficit is increasing alarmingly due to slow export growth, Koirala stressed the need to transform import-based economy into industry-based. “It´s high time we took the initiative to bring down widening trade deficit by adopting industry-based economy and thus enhancing our supply capacity,” Koirala, who also looks after Commerce and Supplies, and Industry portfolios, said. He also indicated that the government would increase cash incentive for exporters through the budget for the next fiscal year. The government has been offering cash incentive of as much as 2-4 percent of the total export volume to exporters depending on the degree of value addition in the exported products. Koirala also said the government had already initiated the process of formulating budget to boost capital expenditure for the upcoming fiscal year. At a time when labor unrest is deterring investors from putting their money in Nepal, Koirala said the government was seriously about creating environment conducive for investment. “We have to lure foreign and domestic investments to boost economic activities,” he added. He also said minimizing corruption under his ministries is also among his top priorities. “I have zero tolerance policy when it comes to corruption,” he added. Nnnn

SINGLE BENCH OF SUPREME COURT RETURNS PETITION ON GOVT. FOR FURTHER HEARING Kathmandu, 31 March: The Supreme Court (SC) on Sunday has ordered to deal the separate petitions together lodged demanding to scrap the formation of the election government formed by removing difficulties under Article 158 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, RSS reports.. A single bench of Justice Girish Chandra Lal ordered to send back the petition for hearings by juxtaposing with the petition of same type filed earlier. Legal practitioners Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, Kedar Guragain and Kapil Chandra Pokhrel had filed the case at the SC demanding to scrap the High-Level Political Committee formed by four political forces having no constitutional and legal ground, and give an interim order for the formation of a new government comprising all 32 political parties represented in the dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA). Earlier, advocates Dr Chandra Kanta Gyawali and Om Prakash Aryal had also lodged a petition demanding to oust Khil Raj Regmi from the post of Chairman of the Interim Election Council of Ministers, as his appointment in the chief executive post was unconstitutional. Office of the President, Chairman of Interim Election Council of Ministers, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Chief Justice and Ministry of Law and Justice have been named as defendants in both the petitions. nnnn. DETAILS OF CARTER TALKS WITH ELECTION OFFICIALS Kathmandu, 31 March: Chairman of the Carter Centre, Jimmy Carter has showed interest to observe the coming election to the Constituent Assembly, in Nepal, RSS reports/. At a meeting with the officials of the Election Commission here today, Carter showed interest to observe the CA election through the Carter Centre, said Chief Election Commissioner, Neel Kanth Upreti. The Carter Centre, which has been observing election in different countries, had also observed the previous CA election in Nepal. In the meeting, the Mr Carter said the Carter Centre would extend necessary help to the Commission for holding the election in a free and fair atmosphere. According to Chief Election Commissioner, Neel Kanth Uprety, the former American President also appreciated the Election Commission for its initiation of necessary legal amendments for election in view of the voting, citizens, and the human rights. Mr Carter following his arrival in Nepal has continued meeting political leaders and other stakeholders and holding discussions on the CA election. Nnnn MYSTERIOUS DEATH IN MOHOTTARI Kathmandu, 31 March: : A person died in a mysterious condition at Sahodawa VDC in Mahottari district, RSS reports from Mohottaaru. The deceased has been identified as Rambabu Mandal, 30, of Dhanauji Kataiya VDC in Dhanusha district, according to the District Police Office, Mahottari. Police Inspector Suraj Khadka said that Mandal, who had been staying in his farther-in-law's house at Sadohawa VDC, was found hanging in the house. The in-law side of the deceased said that there was no dispute in the house and he committed suicide by hanging at a time when all members had slept. Police said that special investigation into the incident will be carried out saying it was mysterious as his body was found hanging at the in-law's house. The body has been brought to the District Hospital, Jaleshwor, for postmortem, added police. nnnn

33 PARTIES REJECT TALKS WITH BIG FOUR, WILL TALKS ONLY WITH PRESIDENT Kathmandu, 31 March Thirty- three-parties opposing government and elections rejected talks with the Big Four behind the government and said they will talk only with President Dr.. Ram Baran Yadav . The opposition following a meeting at the office of CPN Maoist Sunday said the Khil Raj Regmi government was illegal. Nnnn SIXTEEN PERSONS DISRUPING VOTER REGISTATION ARRESTED IN JHAPA Kathmandu, 31 March: Sixten persons disrupting voter registration in Jhapa were arrested Sunday for a constituent poll were arrested, Maoists and Limbuwan workers are disrupting the process in the the eastern districts. Three elections officials abducted by Maoists in neighouring Nuwakot Sunday were released in the presence of journalists after a five- hoiur abduction,. Nnnn MMC RUNNER-UP IN FOOTBALL LEAGUE UPDATE Kathmandu, 31 March: MMC beat NRT 2-0 in the martyrs memorial A division super league tournament and collected a prize money of Rs,3.5 million for being the runner-up. Sunday’s match was the last for the two teams. Three Star lifted the championship collecting a prixe money of Rs.7.5 million. Eight clubs were participating. nnnn

NEPAL PLAYS UAE IN FIRST ACC TWENTY20 CUP SEMI-FINAL UPDATE Kathmandu, 31 March: Nepal will play UAE Tuesday in the first semi-final of the ACC Twenty20 Cup in the Nepalese capital. Nepal qualified for the next round after defeating Singapore. nnnn. BUS TORCHED IN CAPITAL Kathmandu, 31 March: Angry students Sunday torched a bus on Acme Engineering College of Sitapaila. The incident followed expulsion of two students from the college. nnnn

STOCK PRICES TUMBLE Kathmandu, 231 March: Political developments directly impacted stock trading on the first day of weekly five-day weekly trading Sunday. Amid speculation constituent assembly elections wont be held in June, prices timbles and Nepse closed at 511.45 points after stock prices lost 7.32 points. Altogether 300,504 shares were traded for Rs.91.18 million in 1418 transactions. nnnn

CARTER MEETS PARTY LEADERS SUPPORTING GOVT. Kathmandu, 31 MarchL Visiting former US President Jimmy Carter held chiefs pf The Big Three and Madeshbadi parties Sunday. Constituent assembly elections, currents political issues, rights and other issues were discussed. The former US president Saturday sought permission from government Chief Khil Raj Regmi to monitor the coming assembly vote amid reports the Carter Center is working illegally without registering with government bodies as required by law. Carter sought permission Sunday from Chief Election Commissioner Neelkantha Uprety to monitor the coming vote.. UML Chairman Jhalan Khanal said Carter called for a free and fair vote involving opposition parties. nnnn .

CPN MAOISTS ABDUCT OFFICIALS UPDATING VOTERS’ LIST Kathmandu, 31 March:: Cadres of the CPN-Maoist captured the government officials deployed for the collection of voters´ lists from Duipipal VDC of Nuwakot district, on Sunday, RSS reports from Nuwakot.. The captured government officials are VDC Secretary Dil Bahadur Bogati, technician Purushottam Lamichhane, and computer operator Binod Adhikari. They were deployed for the collection of the voters´ list in the Duipipal VDC since Yesterday. The CPN-Maoist cadres had attempted to disrupt the collection of voters´ list and captured the documents and equipments used by the team. The CPN-Maoist cadres called the officials, who took shelter in Jhiltung based Police Office, through telephone call on the pretext of discussion, and they are out of contact since then, said Election Officer at the District Election Office, Sabinraj Dhakal. However, member of the CPN-Maoist Tamsaling State Committee, Narayan Nepal, said the party had called them for discussion but they did not come into party contact. However, the documents are in the Police Office, Jhiltung. RSS adds from Dhangadi: CPN-Maoist cadres have disturbed the updating of the biometric voter lists at Masuriya VDC in the district on Saturday. The cadres of CPN-Maoist have warned against collecting and updating the voter list, said District Returning Office, Kailali. The Maoist cadres had also disrupted the voters’ registration and updating work at Chuha VDC of the district few days ago. The voter lists updating process has now remains obstructed due to the opposition of the Maoist cadres in different parts of the district. In some areas, however, the act is being carried out under police protection. The CPN-Maoist has been obstructing the process leading up to the proposed CA Elections in protest against the formation of the election government under leadership of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi. So far, it remains committed to its announcement of boycotting the upcoming elections to the Constituent Assembly.:: Nnnn DECAPITATED BODY FOUND IN MOHOTTARI Kathmandu, 31 March : A body with neck slit was found last night at the border of Mahottari and Dhanusha districts, RSS reports from Gaushala.. The body of Baliram Saha, 50, a resident of Mahadaiya Tapanpur VDC- 6 of Mahottari was found at the Bisara pond at Kurtha-7 of Dhanusha district, the District Police Office, Mahottari, said. It was found hidden in grass in the Bisara pond at the border between the two districts in a condition of wearing white kurta and pajama, said Police Inspector Suraj Khadka. The family of the deceased has suspected that he might have been killed from personal enmity. The site is 25 kms from Mahottari district headquarters, Jaleswor. nnnn

CARTER CAME BECAUSE CARTER CENTER WORKING ILLEGALLY IN NEPAL Kathmandu, 31 March: Former US President Jimmy Carter Saturday asked Chairman of interim election council Khil Raj Regmi to permit the body to minitor coming constituent elections, Chandra Shekhar Adhikari writes in Annaourna Post. The Center entered Nepal in 2064 [five years] ago to monitor the fist constituent assembly elections adnd worked without registering with government agencies. Carter is now in Nepal to give the center formal official status. nnnn. MAOIST CHIEF FOR MID-OCT POLL Kathmandu, 31 March: UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said on Saturday that chances of a June election had lessened due to the reluctance of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, The Kathmandu Post reports. The Maoist boss, who is said to be in favour of June polls, said that the date for the new Constituent Assembly election should be fixed soon after consultations with other political parties and the Election Commission. Addressing a Central Committee meeting, Dahal said that the party should propose a mid-October date for the polls—instead of November, an alternative prescribed by the 11-point agreement signed on March 13 in case an election on June 21 is impossible. Dahal said that on one hand the NC and the UML wanted to defer the polls while on the other there had not been sufficient preparations for a June election. “We should not protest against this government even if June polls are elusive, as the first party to propose the formation of such a government,” a leader quoted Dahal as telling the meeting. The CC meet decided to organise a month-long cadre orientation programme, focused on building the organisational base, across the country. Meanwhile, CPN-Maoist leaders Rekha Sharma, Krishna Dhoj Khadka and Kumar Dahal returned to the UCPN (Maoist) after 10 months of defection. The three leaders attended the UCPN (M) Central Committee meeting on Saturday. They alleged that the CPN-Maoist, led by Mohan Baidya, lacked a clear ideological line. The 98-member CC, elected by the seventh general convention last month, however, failed to extend its size owing to the disputes among the rival factions led by Dahal, Vice-chairmen Baburam Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha. The meeting, according to leaders, set criteria for aspiring CC members—performance and seniority, with priority for suppressed and marginalised community members. The convention decided to appoint 151 full CC members and alternative members as required. But the committee has failed to appoint new members due to factional disputes and an unexpectedly high number of aspirants. To settle the case, an office bearers’ meeting has been called on Sunday morning. Nnnn RESERVE BANK OF INDIA TO SET ASIDE ADDITIONAL RS..1 BILLION FOR NEPAL IN 2013 At a time when the country is facing acute crunch of Indian currency (IC) notes, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has agreed to provide additional IRs 1billion to Nepal for 2013. Until now, the Indian central bank had been making available IRs 4 billion per year. For this fiscal year, the RBI has already made available IRs 3 billion. The Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has been demanding that the RBI make available IRs 6 billion per year, a senior NRB official said. Besides RBI, other major sources of IC notes for Nepal are Nepali migrant workers and Indian tourists, among others. Of late, the domestic market is facing an acute shortage IC notes due to factors such as rising trade deficit with India and informal cross-border trade. Increased cross-border smuggling, capital flight under various modes, including payment for insurance schemes, and increased demand for IC for travel, medical treatment and pilgrimage, have resulted in IC crunch in the domestic market. Under-invoicing of imported goods is another contributor to IC shortage. Traders say importers pay the actual price of undervalued imports in cash. According to them, they send the remaining payment through hundi after customs clearance in Nepal. Shortage of IC has also resulted in flourishing black market. The exchange rate has reached up to Rs 170 per IRs 100 in the black market. The NRB-fixed exchange rate is Rs 160 for IRs 100. Black marketers withdraw IC from ATMs in bordering Indian towns and sell them in the black market at high exchange rates. TO address this situation, NRB had lowered the limit of withdrawal from Indian ATMs to IRs 10,000 a day. Now, the limit has further been lowered to IRSs 5,000 per day following incidents of unauthorised ATM withdrawals by using fake debit cards. nnnn

UPDATE NEPAL IN SEMI-FINAL OF ACC TWENTY20 CUP Kathmandu, 31 March: Nepal Sunday reached semi-final of the ACC Twenty20 Cup in the Nepalese capital. Nepal defeated Singapore by 121-runs The visitors scored only 89 runs in 15.1 over while chasing a target of 211 runs. Saad Janjua was the highest scorer for Singapore with 20 runs. Basanta Regmi took three wickets for Nepal. nnnn ABANDONED DEFUSED IN NUWAKOT Kathmandu, 31 March: An abandoned bomb planted at Nuwakot district police, Bidur, was defused Saturday by a bomb disposal team of Nepal Army (NA) Police suspect the bomb was planted during the 10-year Maoist insurgency and had it exploded it would have caused massive loss to life and property. nnnn

Saturday, March 30, 2013

NEPAL PLAYS SINGAPORE IN ACC TWENTY20 CUP SUNDAY Kathmandu, 31 March: Nepal plays Singapore in the ACC Twenty20 Cup Sunday in the capital winning two and losing one match. Nepal won against Malaysia Saturday after defeating Maldives but lost against Hong Kong which has qualified for a semi-final berth. Nepal plays Singapore in its last group match and has kept alive for a semi-final berth after Saturday’s win against Malaysia. nnnn. EXTENSIVE DAMAFE AS SUGAR FACTORY CATCHES FIRE IN SARLAHI Kathmandu, 31 March: Extensive damage was caused by a fire overnight ata sugar factory at Haruiwon in Sarlahi has not been computed as yet. The fire caused extensive damage. Firefighters from neighbouring districts rush and helped douse the fire. nnnn NEPAL STARTS EXPORTING SPRING WATER TO WAST ASIA Kathmandu, 31 March: Nepal has started to export fresh water of the Himalaya to East Asia from Friday. The natural spring water from the high Himalayan glaciers of Rasuwa, inside the Langtang National Park area, is bottled at Dhunche, the district headquarters of Rasuwa, The Rising Nepal reports from Rasuwa.. Himalayas Spring Water, a joint venture company of HSW Korea and Muktishree Pvt. Limited, Nepal, produces Himalayas Ontop PET bottled spring water. The company has started the official export of Nepal's water to Korea and Hong Kong amidst a special function organised here Friday. Chief District Officer of Rasuwa Basudev Ghimire, Company's chairmen duo Yong Lyel Ryu and Arun Raj Sumargi officially announced the export of Nepal's water to Korea and Hong Kong. Speaking on the occasion, chairman and chief executive officer Ryu said that the company would export the bottled spring water to Korea and Hong Hong. "We have already singed agreements with the companies in Korea and Hong Kong for the export of the bottled spring water," he said adding, " The company has also talked to various other companies all over the world for exporting water." "We have received positive responses from the companies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates too. We might export our water to these countries very soon," he said. Talking to The Rising Nepal, chairman Sumargi said that the export of water to Korea and Hong Kong was the matter of pride for the country and its people. “As the export of water has added one more product in the list of Nepal’s exportable products, which is colossal and has no competition with any country,” he said adding, “It has huge potential to compensate the trade deficit caused by the import of oil.” Nnnn

FIVE POLICEMEN SUSPENDED IN TANAHU Kathmandu, 31 March: Five policemen have been suspended in Tanahu after death of Sujan Tamang, 22, in custody Thursday. Police said Tamang, who was in possession of marijuana, fled from custody and died after a fall off a cliff. Nnnn BRITISH TREKKER DIES OF ALTITUDE SICKNESS IN ANNAPURNA REGION Kathmandu, 31 March: British trekker Michael John, 60, died of altitude sickness, at Deurali in Ghandruk-9 in Kaski Friday, RSS reports. The trekker returning after completing a trip to Annapurna held a passport with number 509160233. nnnn AFC U-14 FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT BEGINS TUESDAY Kathmandu, 31 March: Group C qualifiers of the AFC U-14 Football Championship 2014 begins in the capital from Tuesday. National teams of Bhutan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Nepal will compete in the five-day tournament. Nepali team:Aashish KC, Abhishek Rijal, Suraj Thapa, Susaan Shrestha, Anosh Magar, Ashim Rai, Dorje Tamang, Jitesh Gurung, Sojit Gurung, Sujan Karki, Kailash Basnet, Kshitiz Khadka, Kshitiz Raj G T, Laxman Pariyar, Manish Bahadur Karki, Mingma Tenzing Sherpa, Pawan Karki, Prezen Tamang, Roman Limbu, Rumesh Bartaula and Sangam Thapa Magar. Nnnn MMC PLAYS RCT IN SUPER LEAGUE Kathmandu, 31 March: MMC lays NRT in martyrs memorial A Division Super league championship at Dashrath Rangashala Sunday. Three Star has already lifted the championship. nnnn. CAPITAL’S SUNDAY MORNING TEMPERATURE 13 DEGREES CELSIUS Kathmandu, 31 March; Capital’s Sunday morning temperature at seven was 13 degrees Celsius. Mercury is expected to rise to 31 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. nnnn 13 31. GOVT.ATTORNEYS LOBBY FOR APPOINTMENT AS JUDGES Kathmandu, 31 March : At a time when the Judicial Council (JC), the constitutional body responsible for recommending appointment of judges, has expedited the process of filling vacant posts of judges at the Supreme Court (SC), appellate and district courts, government attorneys have demanded that the JC appoint sufficient number of judges from among them, Republica reports/ They have accused the JC of being biased toward them while appointing judges in the courts. According to a memorandum made by government attorneys to the JC, only five government lawyers out of 137 have been appointed as judges in the appellate courts between 1994 and 2010. Similarly, 33 lawyers out of 149 have been as judges in the district courts during the same period. "Discretion and a sense of justice have not been employed while appointing judges, who are responsible for delivering justice," reads the memorandum submitted by the government attorneys. Government attorneys have demanded with the JC that they should be treated equally because they are also a part of the judiciary. They have argued that they should be also given priority in appointment of judges as they have already under gone through test of competency before joining the government service. Government attorneys have also warned the JC that the blame will go to the constitutional body if competent and qualified persons are not appointed to the posts of judges at the courts. Recently, government attorneys had also drawn the attention of the chief justice toward their demands. Nnnnn VOTERS’ LIST UPDATE FROM POLICE STATION Kathmandu, 31 March: CPN-Maoist cadres have continued to disrupt voter list updating work in the district. After the cadres created hindrances at the voter roll collection center set up at the VDC office at Sangachok and padlocked the VDC office, the team continued its voter resignation work from the local police station on Saturday, Dhruba Dangal writes in Republica from Sindhupalchowk. CPN-Maoist activists padlocked the VDC office at around 11 A.M. and put up a warning notice to stop the voter registration immediately. According to District Election Officer Umesh Kumar Rai, the team continued its registration work from the police beat office once the VDC office was padlocked.“The laptops and other accessories needed to continue with the job were all outside the office at the time. So we could continue the registration from the police beat office,” said Rai. The administration has beefed up security in the district as obstruction of the voter roll collection went unabated in various places. Security at the district election office has been increased and police have been providing security to the voter list teams. Nine voter roll collection teams have been deployed in the district. Each collection team has been provided a security detail of five policemen, informed Inspector Sujan Kumar Rajbhandari at the district police office. People have been too frightened to attend the voter list collection center following disruption and threats from CPN-Maoist cadres. Meanwhile, our correspondent Devendra Basnet in Dang reports, quoting police, that the CPN-Maoist cadres pelted stones at the voter list colleting team at Baghmare VDC in western Dang. The Maoists took to their heels after police intervened against them. “We have stepped up security following the incident. No one can hinder the registration process now,” said district police chief Lokendra Malla. Similarly, Maoist cadres also obstructed voter registration in Urahari VDC. The registration process was briefly halted following hindrances created by the Maoist cadres. The cadres fled after police reinforcements arrived. According to Gangaparaspur VDC Secretary Dev Raj Adhikari , the voter list collection team in his VDC was likewise threatened by Maoist cadres. Nnnn JUNE ELECTIONS A MIRAGE Kathmandu, 31 March: Unless a miracle happens, holding Constituent Assembly elections in June will be akin to chasing a mirage, Ram Kumar Kamat writes in The Himalayan Times.. This was the message from Nepali Congress Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel’s reactions that mediapersons received after a meeting between the four forces — Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the United Democratic Madhesi Front — and the Election Commission today. Senior leaders of the four forces Ramchandra Paudel, Jhala Nath Khanal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Mahatha Thakur took stock of the EC’s poll preparations today. “Given the EC estimates, it does not seem possible to hold elections by third week of June,” Paudel said. The leaders, however, suggested that the EC try its best to hold polls by the third week of June as agreed by the four forces in the 11-point agreement. “When we sealed the 11-point deal, we were confident we could hold polls by that time,” he clarified. A source said though Dahal was enthusiastic about holding polls by the third week but Khanal was non-committal. Hinting at obstructions against the EC campaign to update voters’ roll, Paudel said unforeseen circumstances were posing challenges. He said the major forces were in favour of holding polls as soon as possible. “If we can hold polls early, it will give a positive message. Therefore, we have told the EC to try its best to hold polls by third week of June.” Paudel clarified. “Ensuring the credibility of elections is also equally important,” he noted. Paudel said EC would be able to tell in two or three days how many days it would exactly need to hold fresh polls. Chief Election Commissioner Nilkantha Uprety, however, said the process of amending election laws and citizenship law could take four to five days and they could probably tell only after that how many days would be needed to hold polls. “We are not denying the possibility of polls by the third week of June,” he said and added that the EC would be able to publish detailed election programmes only after voters’ registration was completed. We will be able to tell the possible date for elections only after election laws are amended, Uprety added. “Once citizenship distribution is completed by the Home Ministry, we can send our teams to update voters’ registration,” he added. The EC, he claimed, is leaving no stone unturned to hold polls at an early date. Uprety said his office did not want to deprive voters of their right to franchise. The EC urged the leaders of four forces to help build positive environment for the polls. An EC source said reduction of proportional representation seats from 335 to 240 could delay the EC’s effort to finalise amendments to election laws as some fringe parties might raise the issue in tomorrow’s all-party meeting. Nnnn BANK RESTRICION ON WITHDRAWALS FOR SECURITY Kathmandu, 31 March: Account holders will now have to queue at branches to make withdrawals of more than Rs 50,000. Nine commercial banks have slashed the withdrawal limit from ATMs to tackle security Threats, Dikshya Singh writes in The Himalayan Times... They have reduced the withdrawal limit to Rs 10,000 per transaction from ATM consoles. Likewise, cardholders cannot withdraw more than Rs 50,000 on a single day using their ATM cards, while monthly limit has been fixed at Rs 200,000. Banks that have issued the notice are Nepal Investment Bank (NIBL), Siddhartha Bank, Rastriya Banijya Bank (RBB), Global IME Bank, Sunrise Bank, Machhapuchchhre Bank, Laxmi Bank, Kumari Bank and Citizens Bank International. “We decided to reduce withdrawal limit to safeguard deposits of customers until security is further strengthened,” said CEO of RBB Krishna Prasad Sharma. Earlier, banks allowed withdrawals of Rs 40,000 per transaction and daily limit was fixed at Rs 100,000. “We have also asked cardholders to change their Personal Identification Number (PIN) as soon as possible because a large number are still using the PIN issued by banks, which has increased the threat of being easy targets of card scammers,” he added. The move came in response to increasing card fraud incidents in Nepal and India through the use of debit cards issued by Nepali banks. A couple of days back, Nepali police had apprehended a group of Indian nationals withdrawing money from India using fake NIBL cards. Banks have also limited the amount of withdrawals from India to Rs 8,000 per transaction, and reduced monthly transaction to Rs 80,000. “Cardholders can use debit cards at Point of Sale (POS) machines while making purchases instead of withdrawing cash,” pointed out Sharma. These banks have set the daily transaction limit through POS terminals at Rs 100,000. However, the monthly limit has been set at Rs 200,000. Most account holders have been relying on plastic money — especially debit cards — to withdraw money instead of waiting in queues to encash cheques. Moreover, most depositors do not own cheque books in order to avoid additional conditions that come with owning cheque books like extra charges and mandatory balance requirements. “We are aware that customers will go through inconvenience due to slashed limits but the risk of falling victim to card frauds will also be minimised,” added Sharma. There are about three million debit cards distributed by financial institutions in Nepal. nnnn COL.LAMA READY TO FIGHT CHARGES OF RIGHTS ABUSE IN NEPAL IN BRITISH COURT EVEN AFTER CLEARING CHARGES AT HOME Kathmandu, 31 March: Nepal Army Col Kumar Lama , who faces criminal charges in the UK under the universal jurisdiction for allegedly committing torture, is ready to fight legal battle to prove his innocence, a family source said on Friday, Nabin Pokhrel writes in The Kathmandu Post from London.. Lama was freed on bail on March 15 and has been living at his home under the surveillance of the British authorities, awaiting the plea and case management hearing on May 10 and a trial scheduled for June 5. He is innocent and confident that he would receive a clean chit from the UK's court, a family source told the Post. "He is working to collect evidences from Nepal and contacting his juniors regarding the incidents in which he has been charged," said a relative. He has been charged with intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering on Janak Bahadur Raut between April 15 and May 1, 2005 and torturing Karam Hussain between April 15 and October 31, 2005 in the capacity of the head of the Gorusinghe Barracks of the Nepal Army. Lama last week met with his lawyers and plans to visit the Nepal Embassy in London to discuss his strategy with Nepali Ambassador Suresh Raj Chalise and legal expert Surya Subedi. The talks are in preparation for the upcoming hearings and are intended to formulate a strategy to win the case, said an embassy official. The May 10 hearing will see whether Lama would plead guilty or not and set dates for completing various procedures up to the trial. Family sources said Lama is optimistic, living a normal life and is free to contact any person he likes. He is living under house curfew from 10pm to 7am every day and is asked to visit the local police station once a week. Nepal had issued an assurance letter stating that Lama would not be issued any travel document until the final verdict on the case and deposited 36,500 pounds as security bond and bail amount before his release. (Note: Col.Lama is first person arrested in UK after Chilean leader Pinochet for rights abuses.) nnnn

EC OFFICIALS TALK WITH BIG FOUR AGAIN IN TWO DAYS Kathmandu, 30 March: UCPN Maoist leaders joined talks with top officials of Of the Election Commission (EC) Saturday. They joined leaders of the other Three Big parties after remaining away from Friday’s talks centered around the second constituent assembly vote unlikely to be held in June. The Big Four Friday had decided to hold talks with election officials to determine reason in delay in announcing election date. The commission is scheduled to hold a meeting with registered parties Sunday. nnnn ELECTION DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON SAYS HOME MINISTER Kathmandu, 30 March: Minister for Home and Foreign Affairs, Madhav Prasad Ghimire, has said that the date for the Constituent Assembly Election would be fixed as soon as possible creating apt political and security environment, RSS reports.. Addressing the 15th anniversary function of Reporters' Club Nepal here today, he said the present government was moving ahead in a responsible, active and serious manner for creating a congenial environment for the election. The Minister for Home Affairs appealed all to extend the necessary cooperation for creating the election environment. Stating that they were conscious of the fact that the main responsibility of the incumbent government is to conduct the election, he stressed that the affairs of the State were being run accordingly. Home Minister Ghimire stated that the security bodies have been directed to employ various security strategies if obstructions are created in the task of collecting the voters' list. Chief Election Commissioner Nilkantha Uprety urged the political parties and the government to help create an environment where in the collection of voters' list would not be obstructed. He suggested declaring the date for the election when the environment is favourable. He said although the election commissioners have been appointed for holding the election, still there is lack of full preparation for the election in terms of making amendment to the election-related laws and creation of favourable environment. The Chief Election Commissioner opined that the public view is that the date for the election should be determined only when there is favourable environment rather than fixing the date in a hurry and having to defer it afterwards for lack of election environment. nnnn

DETAILS OF REGMI, CARTHER TALKS Kathmandu, 30 March: Chairman of the Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi and former President of the United States of America, Jimmy Carter, held talks here today [Saturday], RSS reports.. In the talks that took place at Chairman Regmi's residence at Baluwatar, the two discussed matters of mutual interest and concerns. Taking in a very positive light the constitution, with the agreement of the major political parties, of the Interim Election Government under the leadership of the Chief Justice for holding fresh election to the Constituent Assembly, Mr Carter is learnt to have expressed the confidence that the election would be held on the stipulated time. The former U.S. President had wanted to know with Chairman Regmi on topics like the Constituent Assembly election, the measures to be adopted for that, the problems encountered in the collection of voters' list and how the parties opposed to the election would be brought to consensus. Likewise, Mr Carter asked with Chairman Regmi regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, according to Rajendra Prasad Pandey, the latter's press coordinator. In reply, Chairman Regmi said that the government has requested all the political parties for their full cooperation for holding the election and that a talks team has also been formed for the participation of the parties opposed to the election in the election process through talks and dialogue. Chairman Regmi also said that the High Level Political Committee comprised of the top leaders of the major political parties was also making efforts towards that end. He gave assurances that the election to the Constituent Assembly would be held on the stipulated date. Stating that election was the best alternative to finding a way out to the nation from the existing political crisis, Chairman Regmi said that incumbent government was constituted for the same purpose. The government would complete its assigned task and lead the country towards new direction, he added. He was learnt to have taken positively the permission sought by the former US President Carter to play a role of observer in the upcoming CA election. He said that the Carter Center would be allowed for the same on behalf of the Nepal Government. On the occasion, the Election Government Chairman highly applauded support and cooperation extended by the Carter Center during the first CA election and urged to continue such support in the second election also. Mr Regmi said the election government was committed to adopt all possible measures to resolve the problems seen in the registration of voters' name list in some parts in the country and ensure free and fair election, according to his press advisor Pandey. Nnnn CPN MAOIST CHAIRMAN BAIDHYA REJECT TALKS INVITE Kathmandu, 30 March: Chairman of CPN-Maoist Mohan Baidhya has said the party would not participate in any talks and meetings called by the government and four major political forces in the present situation, RSS reports from Bhaktapur. Opening the second national convention of Nepal Revolutionary Landless Squatters' Association at Manohara, Bhaktapur on Saturday, he said that party would not join any government and four parties' talks in the present context. The CPN-Maoist would sit for talks with the government and four political forces only if an 11-point agreement reached between them was scrapped. He accused the four political forces of following syndicate system in the government leadership and ignoring the presence of 23 parties including the CPN-Maoist that had fought for over ten years for the sake of revolution. Another 'coup' had taken place in the history of Nepal on March 14 when the major political parties made amendments to an Interim Constitution through a wrong channel and appointed Chief Justice Khil Raj Regi Chairman of Election Government in the name of consensus, he claimed. RSS adds from Hetauda: Vice-chairman of the CPN-Maoist, CP Gajurel, has said his party would not opt for an armed conflict though it were not involved in the fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) election to be held by the Interim Election Council formed in an 'unconstitutional' manner. Speaking at a programme in Hetauda Municipality Ward No. 4 of Makawanpur district on Saturday, the CPN-Maoist would participate in the CA election if the talks were held with the fringe political parties represented in the dissolved CA. "The CPN-Maoist will organize city-centered protests by taking public support if it does not participate in the CA election," he stated. "But we will not opt for an armed conflict," added Gajurel. nnnn

UPDATE MAOIST CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEET Kathmandu, 30 March: UCPN Maoist central meeting Sunday will decide on the size f its central committee amid differences to expand strength to 399 members. Differences continued at a central committee Saturday. The Hetauda seventh general convention decided on central committee membership of 151members. Nnnn THREE DEFECTORS APPOINTED UCPN MAOIST CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS Kathmandu, 30 March: Krishna Dhoj Khadka, Kumar Dahal and Rekha Sharma have been appointed central committee members of UCPN Maoist. They returned to the mother party from CPN Maoist and were welcomed by Chairman Prachanda Saturday. . Nnnn

FRIENDS CLUB DEFEATS RCT IN FOOTBALL LEAGUE Kathmandu, 30 March: Friends Club defeated RCT in the martyrs memorial A division super league championship at Dashrath Ranashala Saturday. MMC still remains runner-up of the championship in which eight climbs participated. The runner-up will take home a prize money of Rs,3.5 million. Three Star clinched the championship. Nnnn MAN KILLED BY TUSKER IN JHAPA Kathmandu, 30 March: An elderly died after an elephant attack at Prithvinagar of Jhapa this morning [Saturday], RSS reports from Kakarvitta.. Sixty-eight-year old Mangalbir Tamang from Prithvinagar-1 was attacked by a wild elephant while cutting grass in a nearby jungle. Seriously injured in the attack, Tamang died at the Mechi Zonal Hospital during the treatment, said the District Police Office, Jhapa. nnnn

CHAIRMAN REGMI ASKS OPPOSITION PARTIES TO JOIN ELECTION FRAY Kathmandu, 30 March: : Chairman of the Interim Election Council of Ministers, Khil Raj Regmi, has called the disgruntling political parties to participate in the coming election to the Constituent Assembly, RSS reports.. Inaugurating the 15th Anniversary of the Reporters' Club Nepal in the capital today, Chairman Regmi urged all political parties and the people to participate in the election, as it was the only a legitimate and democratic process. He further said he became the Chairman of the Council of Ministers to carry out the responsibility entrusted by the time. The only aim of the present government is to hold CA election, he said, adding that government was holding discussions and consulting the political parties on the fixation of election date. On the occasion, Chairman Regmi honoured various personalities from the media sector. Meanwhile, speaking at a separate programme organised in the capital city, Chairman Regmi said government was committed to holding CA election in a free and fair atmosphere. Inaugurating a Palpali Cultural Festival-2013 organised by the Palpali Sangam today, Chairman Regmi urged all to extend help from their respective places to the government's only mission of holding CA election. Similarly, he said Nepal, despite being a resource-rich country, was lagging behind in development and economic prosperity due to political instability. Chairman Regmi hoped that cultural festival would help boost up domestic and international tourism. On the occasion, Home Minister and Minister for Foreign Minister Madhav Prasad Ghimire said present government was formed on a special condition, and it was committed to holding CA election in a free and fair atmosphere. Political parties need to play constructive role to create election atmosphere, he said, adding that the government was making legal amendments for this.He also hoped the festival would help further explore the cultural identities of Nepal. Moreover, Inspector General of Police, Kuver Singh Rana, said Nepal police has taken it as a challenging responsibility to hold the upcoming CA election in a safe and fair atmosphere. The festival organised on the premises of the Nepal Academy, Kamaladi, has various promotional stalls depicting the Palpa's culture and tradition. The Palpali Sangam felicitated Chairman of the Election Council Regmi on the occasion. Nnnn MJFN MAY PARTICIPATE IN ELECTIONS Kathmandu, 30 March: The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum- Nepal which was objecting to the formation of present government, has hinted at participating in the coming election to the Constituent Assembly, RSS reports from Dhangadi. After the high level political mechanism of the four big powers assured to address the demands raised by it, the MJF-Nepal showed willingness to participate in the election, said leader Prem Chandra Jha quoting Chairman Upendra Yadav as saying. According to him, Chairman Yadav was likely to attend a meeting of the four party high-level mechanism. The MJF-Nepal has been demanding resignation of Chairman of the election council of ministers, Khil Raj Regmi, from the post of chief justice, increase in the number of parliamentarians under the proportional quota for CA and re-delineation of constituency based on population. nnnn . nnnn OPINION Holding their feet to the fire Kathmandu, 29 March: Considering the swiftness and sanguinity of the international community’s response, Nepalis were seemingly senseless to have spent all those exquisite weeks on constitutionalism. Maila Beke writes in Nepali Netbook. Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi’s installation as head of the interim election government, according to these foreign stakeholders, is a welcome development toward consolidating democracy, Maila Naje writes in Nepali Netbook. . The street protesters, backroom complainers and congenital quibblers may have a hard time digesting this subversion of the democratic process. But they should recognize that, at least in this case, separation of powers and judicial independence – like beauty – are in the eyes of the beholder. And, for those with the locus standi to confer legitimacy, every thing is hunky-dory. A leading poll shows the electoral field wide open, with the people willing to hear all ideas. But the prospects of elections do not seem that bright. Even if they were to be held soon enough, prolonged squabbling over the outcome is likelier than ever, considering the perceived shift in the popular mood and the ostensible addiction of the current satrapy to monopolizing matters. Then, of course, there’s that pesky little issue: what do we do if the Regmi government, too, were to prove just another futile experiment? Maila Baje feels Nepalis could do much more than just sit back and seethe. To make some good out of this bewildering twist, we could strive harder to make the international stakeholders own more conscientiously the entire post-April 2006 process. Let’s not feel bad in considering ourselves in some kind of international trusteeship. (Which, so to speak, is far better than the ‘Bhutanization’ we’ve been denouncing and dreading for so long.) The international principals would now have to substantiate that what they have legitimized is actually not so ludicrous. Sure, the Americans and Europeans won’t see eye to eye on everything, despite their perceived proximity on the values of democracy. Nor will the Chinese and Indians ever be able to come close enough to really rooting out the rest. The Russians, Japanese and Pakistanis are other key imponderables we must contend with. However, the international and regional powers that so haughtily claim a stake in this nebulous new Nepal can be expected to sufficiently negotiate their contradictions to build a basic state of equilibrium. Nepalis have seen enough political systems to recognize that the sturdiness of the basic law alone does not ensure regime durability. What does count for us is basic life and liberty in pursuit of a decent existence. The principal panic that has resurfaced is of one of sweeping demographic transformation through the indiscriminate distribution of citizenship certificates by the new government. But that certainly is not the only thing pitting the regional behemoths and their clients against each other. If our water resources are a problem for our neighbors, Nepalis could certainly forgo our long-held dreams of building dams here. In terms of crude water flow, topography long favored the Indians; technology today would allow the Chinese deploy water as a strategic tool. We wouldn’t mind helping out the Americans in such areas as extraordinary rendition, missile defense or what have you. Keep the Free Tibet issue as alive as you will; just don’t kill us. More tangibly, international stakeholders could apportion a percentage of their national budgets in unconditional cash transfers to every Nepali for their fortitude and forbearance. (Indeed, the West could pay us to let the annual March 10 Tibetan protests go ahead unhindered, while the North could then recompense us to stop them. May the highest bidder then triumph.) With a guaranteed monthly check actively adjusted for inflation and more, we might even learn to enjoy these foreign power plays. ---- For someone who stands out for hurling his own share of scurrilous accusations, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai is sure stung to the quick. On the face of it, the trouble the prime minister took in issuing a 12-point rebuttal to allegations raised during his tenure fits with any reasonable man’s innate desire to defend his reputation. However, Dr. Bhattarai’s core contention – that the media erroneously played up his remarks, activities and events – undercuts his claims on the specifics. No Nepali prime minister has escaped the harsh judgment of his times. It has become almost axiomatic in Nepali politics that every government, at least in the popular perception, is worse than the one it succeeded. Admittedly, no head of government would like to be remembered in such a sordid way. But that’s the price of practicing politics in perpetually polarized times. If Dr. Bhattarai thought he could buck this trend, then that says quite something about him. When Dr. Bhattarai ascended to the premiership, he brought along a reputation for probity and efficiency as finance minister. What was also true was that he established such credentials at a time when Nepalis were focused primarily, if not exclusively, on the peace process and new constitution. There, Dr. Bhattarai’s boss, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, was taking much of the heat. The reputation of an efficient tax collector was going to be of little use to Dr. Bhattarai in the top job. He took the reins when the twin tasks were grievously faltering. Yet he and his aides seemed complicit in fanning expectations from his ministerial record. Charges of corruption, nepotism and patronage take little time to set in and then speedily take a life of their own. When hopes – regardless of rationality – are belied, the costs become brutal. Even seemingly genuine symbols of change – i.e., the adoption of indigenous vehicles or espousal of direct and regular interaction with the people – tend to be revisited with popular cynicism. Over time, it became easy to juxtapose the circumstances surrounding the BIPPA agreement with India, the Tribhuvan International Airport development plan, the mismanagement of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit, and the split of the Maoist party with new revelations from Indian sources on the Maoists’ maneuverings with New Delhi officialdom all the way back to at least 2002. Maila Baje recognizes Dr. Bhattarai’s longstanding penchant for dismissing critics as Goebbelsian fiends. If the Nepali media have misquoted people, it is not a new phenomenon that has somehow injured only the incumbent prime minister. Moreover, the people are far from gullible; they have their own quibbles with reporters and editors. But how long have Nepali politicians blamed the media misquotations to wriggle out of difficult situations? And who has better manipulated the media for his own ends than Dr. Bhattarai? During the early years of the Maoist insurgency, when elements in the mainstream parties and the media accused the royal palace of directly running the rebels, Dr. Bhattarai did not see it fit to rebut the charges to preserve the purity of his ‘revolution’. In fact, he took the opportunity to malign the palace as well as scare the mainstream parties by playing up even minor contacts with Panchayat-era politicians. When it suited him, Dr. Bhattarai praised all Shah monarchs before Gyanendra Shah, boldly proclaiming that Nepalis would eventually evaluate them highly. Yet when times changed, he sought to club the Bhimsen Thapa and Rana eras – a cumulative 134 years when the palace existed only in name – into 230 years of monarchical malevolence the country could no longer afford. The upshot? A skilled practitioner of evasion, obfuscation and fabrication, Dr. Bhattarai could have helped his legacy by shunning this blatant victim card. Nnnn AWAITING ELECTIONS 2014? Kathmandu, 30 March: Fort all their big talk, the perfidious among the political parties that have taken the Nepali people for a ride with constant impunity, the pretence of their fervent desire to hold the next national elections does not stick at all. No one is serious about the citizen’s right to vote regularly. Every group wants to first ensure its own interests and poll prospects before taking the great plunge. Neither the Maoists of any denomination nor the Nepali Congress or the CPN (UML) in its heart of hearts looks forward to facing voters in the near future, Trikal Vastavik writs in People’s Review. . They all want to be in power during election time. This should suffice to indicate what sort of quality polls in the country are. If free and fair elections without misuse of power and resources by those in the government were the norm, such shamelessly desperate ploy to head the government and look after “important” ministries would not be exhibited daily and for months. While flipping through an international news magazine some time ago, this author spotted a particular sentence that has stirred many an intense thought. Wondering whether the problems with Iran would ever end, the English weekly said, “The Islamic Republic now seems to be more disliked than at any time since the revolution of 1979 that ended the monarchy, for which some people are showing nostalgia.” Back home in Nepal, too, millions of people literally yearn for the 1991 constitution, which at one time, the Nepali Congress and its half brother CPN (UML) hailed as the “world’s best.” Well the “best” is no longer in taste for these two parties who find themselves having laid to waste much of what had been aspired for seven years ago. They abandoned all they held as their basic principles in the exercise of democracy. Instead of consolidating the gains generated by the 1990 constitution, they surrendered to hold on to the coattails of the Maoists who they had previously declared terrorists. The travesty of their stands and movements was highlighted by lack of any focus and direction when the NC and the UML lapped up whatever the Maoists dished out as “the gains of Jana Andolan.” Mistakes are made. But those who commit mistakes too often and for too long are worthless to uphold in action what they promise in their preaching. The two parties that had left other parties far behind in electoral competitions under the now discarded “best” constitution are, of late, licking their wounds as significantly sidelined groups, with the Maoists taking a runaway lead over them both in organizational structure, initiatives for agenda-setting and getting the upper hand in virtually every issue. People, therefore, cannot be blamed for their nostalgia for the bad old years of the 1990 constitution which provided greater political stability, a steady economic course, less corruption, better governance and a credible presence in the comity of nations, which could not be taken for granted. There is little doubt where the “big parties” have taken the country to. The chaotic mess stinks and threatens the very fabric of society. In fact, leaders in various parties have come out with the “nation under threat” theme with a frequency that makes people hark for the previous constitution. No other time in the past since the ushering in of democracy in 1951 witnessed the existing lawless order that has been the mainstay of the recent governments in this once peaceful land. Baburam Bhattarai might like to believe deeply in his gimmick of visiting the home of a family with modest standard of living each month in a village but history judges it as an outdated practice prescribed in the Kautilya script in the context of two millennia ago. It shows how desperate the man and at times his loud-mouthed and overbearing spouse Hisila are for publicity. The Maoist second in command used to ridicule the regional visits that the late King Birendra used to undertake prior to 1990. Whereas the royal tours had a greater purpose and some direct benefits to the regions concerned, Bhattarai’s monthly visit came to be seen as a political stunt that failed to impress anyone but the Bhattarai duo. Not even Bhattarai’s party members were impressed enough to laud in public what their senior leader had undertaken. For a party whose staple has been the slogan against dynastic rule, the ruthless manner adopted for imposing family members and relatives on the party positions of significance makes mince meat of the stand its leaders preach. What they preach is meant for others. When it comes to practicing it at home and family circle, all pretensions are thrown to the winds. A different set of rules are applied, which favor their siblings, relatives and, above all, family members. Maoist boss Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his deputy Bhattarai have outscored all others in the cruel game against Nepalis’ hopes and aspirations. By their decisions and actions from the prime minister’s chair, both Dahal and Bhattarai have left plenty of footmarks and thumb prints evidencing nepotism and favoritism, among other ills. Both, having ensured that their portraits get hung in the gallery at Singh Durbar as former prime ministers, find their public image tumble down in the fastest fall. A Nepali academic, in an encounter with his counterpart at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, argued “What sort of an intellectual argued, on the basis what how Nepal’s prime minister had strayed from his earlier declarations, “What sort of an intellectual you have produced?” The JNU academic reportedly retorted, “He is a perverted intellectual.” The focus on Dahal and Bhattarai is because they are the centre of attention of political parties, the so-called civil society and the news media that at first praised the duo to the skies and are now polarized on political lines after the June dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. Dahal does not project himself as a great intellectual. His deputy is different; he pretends. With the Maoist leaders’ opponents only reacting to what the former armed rebel commanders say, elections have been consigned to the backburner. Fear of elections was the reason why the tenure of the CA, against the mandate and spirit of the Interim Constitution, was extended again and again until the Supreme Court intervened. Fresh elections should have been held in 2010. Now those holding the key to the government’s functioning, as implied by Bhattarai, are whispering that the next elections will be held in 2014 at the earliest! If we can do without local elections for 15 years with rampant corruption across the VDCs and municipalities, a couple of years more for a new legislature would not be anything worse if the same lot and faces are to return to call the tune. (The writer can be reached at: trikalvastavik[at] nnnn

UPDATE NEPAL DEFEATS MALAYSIA IN ACC CRICKET Kathmandu, 30 March: Nepal kept is hopes alive for a semi-final berth, defeating Malaysia by 19 runs in the ACC Twenty20 match. Malaysia was bowled for 144 runs in 20 overs for the loss of nine Wickets. Shafiq Sharif’s scored 53 runs in 58 balls. nnnn

BOMB EXPLOSION AT GOVT. OFFICE IN SIRAHA Kathmandu, 30 March: A petrol bomb was exploded Friday night at the government quarters of Local Development Officer near the District Police Office in Siraha, RSS reports from Siraha. . The explosion took place at 8:00 pm at night detonated by an unknown group. The carpet in the upper floor of the quarters has been burnt from the fire after the explosion and windowpanes were broken, said Police Inspector of the District Police Office, Siraha, Raj Kumar Shahi. A nearby coconut tree was also brunt from the fire. There was no humanitarian loss as LDO Bijayaraj Subedi was in Kathmandu for some business. Nepal Police and Armed Police Force team put out the fire and security has been tightened. Locals said it exploded in few minutes of throwing some object by three unknown persons. Fire was raging when the police reached the site. Meanwhile, the Terai Communist Party has taken the responsibility of the blast. The party´s STF Commander Surendra Madhesi through the phone told media persons that it was a warning as Subedi amassed property making DDC a centre of corruption. nnnnn

UPDATE NEPAL SETS MALAYSIA A TARGET TO 164 RUNS IN ACC CRICKET Kathmandu, 30 March: Nepal set Malaysia a target of 164 runs to win in the ACC Twenty20 match played Saturday in the capital. Captain Paras Khadka scored 87 runs. Malaysia elected t field after winning the toss. MORE

PRESIDENT ASKS FOUR PARTY LEADERS TO BRING OPPOSIION INTO TALKS FOR ELECTIONS Kathmand, 30 March President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav Saturday asked leaders of four major parties of a high-level political mechanism behind the government to bring opposition parties opposed to constituent assembly for talks to hold an assembly vote. He asked leaders to fix a date for the vote while expressing concern at a delay in in elections. President cosulted leaders at Shital Niwas. nnnn. CARTER, REGMI DISCUSSIONS Kathmandu, 30 March: Chairma of he council of intrim election council Hil Raj Regmi hkld iscussions wihth foer US President Jimmy Carter Saturday. On the second day of he chef of the Carter Cener, Regmi discussed yjprvr ptovrdd, elctipd, progress n the and other issuies of urrent politics. Carter began a four-day visit Friday. Nnnn PRESS ADVISOR GAUTAM HAS WORKED WITH LEADING NEWSPAPERS AND TELEVISION NETWORKS Kathmandu, 30 March: Bimal Gautam Friday was appointed press advisor of government Chief Khil Raj Regmi who has already appointed another media coordinator. In a journalism career spanning 14 years, Gautam has worked for Rajdhani, Kantipur daily, Republica, Nepal Television and Kantipur Television. He wrote on legal affairs and was with BBC Nepali Service as well. nnnn

Friday, March 29, 2013

UCPN MAOIST CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEETS SATURDAY Kathmandu, 30 March: Maoist central committee meets Saturday to discuss appoints in the body. A dispute has broken out in the party following a decision of office bearers to expand the central committee strength to 399 members to accommodate factions. Critics say an expanded committee will be unwieldy.. The seventh Hetauda general convention decided on a central committee of 150 members. The committee meeting Saturday will also discuss the constituent assembly elections. nnnn INTER-CASTE MARRIAGE CAUSES DISPLACEMENT Kathmandu, 30 March: Various organizations crusading for Dalit rights have voiced concern over the issue of inter-caste marriage and subsequent violence it has resulted in society, RSS reports. They blamed the government for sheer negligence to settle inter-caste marriages occurring in any society. Issuing a joint press release, Jagaran Media Centre, Samata Foundation, Nepali Forum Monthly, Ekata Foundation and National Dalit Liberation Front said that the family of Buddhi Ram BK from Khaskusma-8 Chappargaudi, Banke has been forcefully displaced due to inter-caste marriage. The locals had beaten and threatened to their life resulting in the displacement of the BK family. The incident took a nasty turn when Chitra Bahadur BK; son of Buddhi Ram BK, had married to Khuma Khadka on March 20. Though the country is declared a caste discrimination free nation, the issue of inter-caste is still a big problem in Nepal societies. Nnnn WORLD BANK GRANT FOR SOLD WASTE MANAGEMENT Kathmandu, 30 March: Acting as administrator for the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA), the World Bank has approved a grant of US$ 4.3 million to improve access to high quality and financially sustainable solid waste management (SWM) services in five municipalities in Nepal, The Rising Nepal reports.. The grant will finance service delivery subsidies for each participating municipality, over a four year period, to cover the gap between the costs of delivering SWM services and the beneficiary revenues collected through SWM fees, provided that the said services meet verified minimum performance criteria, according to a press statement issued by the WB on Friday. Subsidies will be paid to the municipalities based on agreed multiples of verified beneficiary revenue collected upon the services’ meeting pre-agreed minimum performance criteria, read the statement. The project will initially target Tansen, Dhankuta, Lalitpur, Leknath and Pokhara municipalities and sub-metropolitan cities. More than 800,000 people of these municipalities would be benefited from the project. “This project is pioneering a new approach to providing much needed support to municipalities while also encouraging financially sustainable services. If successful, this model may be applicable to other sectors,” said Tahseen Sayed Khan, World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. The Solid Waste Management Technical Support (SWMTSC) and the Town Development Fund (TDF) will jointly provide technical and project management support to implement the activities covered by the output-based aid (OBA) grant. “This project will help put solid waste operations in a reasonable financial position at the end of the subsidy scheme, thereby strengthening each municipality's ability to commit resources thereafter to cover any shortfalls that may be needed going forward without compromising other municipal services,” said Dr Sumitra Amatya, Executive Director, SWMTSC. Consistent with the OBA approach, the design of the project includes a two-stage independent verification mechanism that will be used to trigger the release of OBA subsidies, the press statement stated. A first verification will measure how municipalities perform against a scorecard of pre-agreed performance criteria. "The success of the project can open doors for more output-based financing projects through TDF in the municipalities in the near future,” said Sushil Gyewali, Executive Director, TDF Participating municipalities will each sign Tripartite Project Implementation Agreements with TDF and SWMTSC as a basis for participation in the project. The project requires participating municipalities to prepare SWM service improvement plans identifying those service delivery improvements to be covered under the project; decide on the service delivery model, implement service delivery improvements as per agreed plans and implement a designated SWM fee charged to all waste generators, and collect the revenues. Nnnn DIG KOIRALA CLAIMS HIS CONFESSION ON WIFE’S MURDER FAKED Kathmandu, 30 March: Giving a new twist to a murder tale, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Ranjan Koirala has retracted on his earlier statement and claimed that his signature on a statement furnished before the court was faked. In the statement, Koirala had confessed to the murder of his wife Geeta Dhakal in January 2012, Ankit Adhikari writes in The Kathmandu Post.. Responding to Koirala’s claim that the signature was faked, the Kathmandu District Court (KDC) on February 17 directed the bodies concerned to conduct a forensic test to see if Koirala’s signature matched the one on the statement. As suggested by Koirala’s lawyers, the KDC ordered that the signatures be tested at the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), Khumaltar. However, Koirala claimed no knowledge of his fingerprints on the statement, one of the victim’s relatives said. “Koirala himself signed the statement in front of us,” government attorney Man Bahadur Karki claimed. “I don’t know what is going on.” Family members of the victim also claimed that there is “foul play” going on. “Instead of verifying the statement by questioning officials in front of whom Koirala signed the paper, the court issued an order to conduct a scientific test,” a relative of Geeta Dhakal said. “This way, Koirala will have ample time to influence officials through whatever means necessary.” After Koirala appealed his conviction last year, the February 17 decision of the court also directed the bodies concerned to investigate once again certain things that were “left out.” The order called for a medical check-up at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) to ascertain whether Koirala’s left hand was really dysfunctional at the time of the murder. In his appeal, Koirala had maintained that he could not have murdered anyone as he had broken his left arm a few months before the murder. The court also ordered verification of photographs obtained by the police from Geeta’s home. The police, during a preliminary search of Geeta’s residence, had reportedly discovered photographs of the deceased with “some Indian men”. The police also recovered an Indian SIM card from the same place. The court order called on the police to coordinate with the Interpol and find out the specifics concerning the SIM card’s registration and its call details. A single bench of Justice Keshari Raj Pandit issued an order-list to this effect. However, the victim’s family took issue with the court’s orders for a re-investigation, saying the order was “irrelevant” as Koirala himself had confessed to his crime. The family appealed to the Appellate court demanding that the KDC’s orders be scrapped. However, on February 28, the appellate court upheld the KDC orders. The high-ranking Armed Police Force (APF) officer and his wife Geeta had been living separately for the past six years following property and personal disputes. However, they were not divorced yet. Geeta was living in a house built on two ropanis of land in Budhanilkantha, worth around Rs 40 million. According to the police, on January 11, 2012, Koirala reached Geeta’s home, saying that he wanted to take his son, who was living with her, on a trip around the city. Leaving his son with his driver at a mall, Koirala returned to Geeta’s home and allegedly murdered her. He then locked the house and went out to make arrangements to dispose of the body. The same night, he loaded the body into his vehicle and set out for Tistung-8, Makawanpur, where he burned the body, investigators claimed. On January 21, Koirala was held at the same location by locals who informed the police of his “unusual” activities at the site. As he was returning to Kathmandu the next day, a special squad from the Metropolitan Police Range and the Metropolitan Police Crime Investigation Division arrested Koirala at Nagdhunga, the Capital’s entry point. During investigations, Koirala admitted to the crime, but said that the murder was unintentional, according to the police. “She died after her head struck the wall,” Koirala’s statement read. “The violence started when she called me to the house and said that she was in need of Rs 500,000.” Nnnn PARTIES OPPOSED TO ELECTIONS ADAMANT Kathmandu, 30 March: The government on Friday formed a three-member talks team to hold dialogue with parties who are opposed to elections, The Kathmandu Post writes.. The team led by Home Minister Madhav Ghimire, comprises Minister for Communications Madhav Poudel and Minister for Health and Population Bidyadhar Mallik. The Cabinet decision comes in the wake of continued protests against the Khil Raj Regmi-led election government by the CPN-Maoist, which has obstructed the ongoing voter registration process. Even parties like the Upendra Yadav-led Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal (MJF-N) have been demanding Regmi quit as chief justice. Leaders from both the CPN-Maoist and the MJF-N, however, expressed reluctance to hold talks with the newly-formed team. “We are against the regressive move of Chairta 1 (March 14) that led to the formation of the present government,” CPN-Maoist Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal told the Post, adding, “We won’t hold talks with those who don’t have any status.” MJF-N leader Arjun Thapa also questioned the legitimacy of the government and the talks team. “There is no meaning in holding talks with a team that is primarily driven by the syndicate of the four parties,” he said. Later on Friday, the Cabinet issued a statement, appealing to the political parties, civil society and common people to cooperate in holding the elections. “Doubts, dilemma, concerns and complaints regarding elections should be sorted out through talks and coordination. The Cabinet appeals to all stakeholders to support the national election campaign,” the statement said. The Cabinet also appealed to agitating government employees to take back their protests and cooperate. It further urged political parties and their sister organisations, professionals and private sectors not to organise strikes and bandas. Also on Friday, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress Vice-President Ram Chandra Poudel, CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli and Raj Kishor Yadav from the Samyukta Madhesi Morcha met Regmi at the latter’ residence in Baluwatar. In the meeting, Regmi told the leaders about the obstructions to the voter registration drive and the delay in the formulation of electoral laws as major hurdles to announcing the poll date. Earlier, a meeting of the High-level Political Mechanism formed to facilitate the functioning of the Regmi government on Friday decided to inquire with the government and the Election Commission (EC) their preperations for holding the polls in June. The leaders, according to Yadav, expressed their displeasure at the government’s delay in announcing the poll date. UCPN (M) members skip meet Members of the cross-party taskforce representing the UCPN (Maoist) failed to show up in a meeting called by the Election Commission on Friday. The two members from the party—Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Shakti Bahadur Basnet, substitute of Khil Lal Devkora—remained absent in the meeting. The meeting was supposed to update three key electoral laws—Electoral Roll Act (2007), the Election Commission Act (2007) and the Constituent Assembly Act (2007)—for holding fresh Constituent Assembly elections. “I called up Maharaji and inquired about their whereabouts. He told me to move ahead with the amendment process and also said that some new members, possibly Lilamani Pokharel, will attend the next meeting,” said Bimalendra Nidhi, a member of the taskforce from the Nepali Congress. The EC had earlier planned to complete the amendment of the draft of the electoral laws on Friday and present them before the all-party mechanism. nnnn

PRESIDENT ASKS CHAIRMAN REGMI TO ANNOUNCE ASSEMBLY ELECTION DATE Kathmandu, 30 Mrch: Expressing dissatisfaction with the work of the government, President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has asked Chairman of the council of ministers Khil Raj Regmi [Friday] to announce dates for constituent assembly elections, Nagarik reports. ‘It’s essential to conduct work fast. Speed up the work,” President’s Press Advisor Tajendra Dahal said in Nagarik Saturday quoting the president/ “Wthat is being done to create an atmosphere for constituent assembly elections? How are discussions going? What is being talked with the big parties? How much technical work has been completed? ” the president asked, according to Dahal. The president told Regmi to speed up work by involving all parties. nnnn . GOVT. CHIEF SAYS ELECTION DATE ONLY AFTR VIOLENCE ENDS Kathmandu, 30 March:: Chairman of interim election council Khil Raj Regmi today [Friday] told the High-Level Political Committee members that the government could not announce the date for fresh Constituent Assembly elections as long as disruption of voters’ registration process continued, Prakahs Acharya writes in The Himalayan Times. . Regmi also requested HLPC to help the government hold talks with the agitating parties. With disruption of the process to update voters’ list on and with little time left for making preparations for providing citizenship certificates to those deprived of them, amending election related laws and arranging electronic voting machines, the possibility of holding polls by June 21 as suggested by the parties is receding fast, sources said. Talking to HLPC members — Unified CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress Vice-president Ramchandra Paudel and UML leader KP Oli – at his residence in Baluwatar this evening, Regmi requested them to help the government hold talks with the protesting political groups, including Mohan Baidhya-led CPN-Maoist and Upendra Yadav-led Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal. “The Election Commission has been preparing for the polls. Once the obstacle to updating the voters’ list is removed, the government can announce the date in consultation with EC after calculating the days required for other preparations,” Regmi told the HLPC members, according to NC leader Ramchandra Paudel. Talking to The Himalayan Times, Paudel said the HLPC had decided to hold talks with the EC members and the agitating political groups on the matter “either tomorrow or on Sunday”. “We will assess the obstacles in updating the voters’ list and tell the government to complete the task of updating voters’ list and providing citizenship certificates to those deprived by May 14,” said UML leader Bam Dev Gautam after the HLPC meeting held earlier this morning. Prez concerned President Ram Baran Yadav has asked the Chairman of the Interim Election Council of Ministers Khil Raj Regmi to take initiatives for creating conducive environment for holding Constituent Assembly elections. In a meeting with Chairman Regmi held at Shital Niwas on Friday, the Head of the State urged Regmi to speed up the poll process by taking even those opposing the elections into confidence. Rajendra Dahal, Press Adviser to the President, told The Himalayan Times, “The President was also concerned about promulgating ordinances to remove legal hurdles in holding elections and also for good security arrangements.” Nnnn RENEWAL OF LOST PASSPORTS TO TAKE SIX MONTHS Kathmandu, 30 March: To curb fraudulent activities in the name of passport loss, the Department of Passports has decided not to re-issue passports for at least six months after the loss is reported, except in cases where the applicant proves that the loss is genuine, Lekhnath Pandey writes in The Himalayan Times.. Stating that passport loss is a serious crime, the DoP has proposed an amendment to the existing Passport Regulations 2010. “We have found that most cases of the said passport-loss are not genuine,” Acting Director General of the DoP Yadav Khanal told THT. The government has been charging Rs 10,000 (twice the normal fee) as fee for the re-issuance of a lost passport. But it hasn’t proved to be a deterrent, and applications for re-issuance of lost passports have been piling up. According to Khanal, once the regulations are amended, the loss will have to be reported to the police. Only if the police investigation finds the loss to be genuine will the DoP accept the application for another passport before the six-month general provision. Otherwise application for passport renewal will be accepted six months after the loss is reported to the police. “It’s the bearer’s duty to keep his/her document safe,” Khanal said. DoP claims that in most cases passport loss is faked after the applicant’s visa is rejected by foreign embassies or human resource agents don’t return his/her passport. A proposal to revise the regulations has been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. DoP has also advised the MoFA to initiate the process of issuing e-passport with biometric device, apropos the call of International Civil Aviation Organisation to introduce smart-passports after 2015. The government has been issuing machine readable passports since 26 December 2010 with a validity period of 10 years. Khanal said MRPs would be valid till their expiry despite the ICAO’s call to introduce e-passports. Khanal said the office had proposed three time-frames for passport issuance: very urgent, urgent and normal. Currently, the DoP issues passports in two time frames: normal channel with a delivery time of one-and-a-half months costing applicant Rs 5,000 and a fast-track channel that ensures passport within a week for Rs 10,000. If the proposed provision is applied, passport would be issued within 48 hours at extra cost to the applicant. nnnn

PRESIDENT HOLDING TALKS WTHBIR FOUR LEADERS Kathmandu, 30 March: President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav is holding wilks with the Big For Saturday. Discussions are being held as uncertainty grows on a second constitutional assembly election in mid-June. The alternative date vote is in November after Dashain.Tihar. nnnn CHIEF ELECTON COMMISSIONER, PRESIDENT TALKS Kathmandu, 30 March: Chief Election Commissioner Neelkantha Uprety held discussions with President Dr.. Ram Baran Yadav as major parties demand election for firm elections date for the second constituent assembly and 33 parties, including CPN Maoist, obstruct work to update a voters’ list. The government of senior retired government officials headed by Chief Justice Khil Regmi Regmi hasn’t announced firm date even 19 days after installation with support of four parties. Government Friday formed a three-member ministerial team to hold talks with parties opposing government and elections to hold a vote inviting parties on the street to join talks. Opponents are obstructing work of election officials deputed to districts to update a voters’ list in which 11.1 million persons votes have been registered. Four main parties behind government have also asked parties to sit down for talks to discuss differences. Thirty-three parties have demanded ouster of the Regmi government and its replacement by a national consensus government chosen by a roundtable conference. In the Valley, work of on updating a voters; has been disrupted in Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Second round of talks of election commission officials with leaders of the Big Four couldn’t be held Friday with a talks boycott; a team led by top leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara participated in talks one day earlier. nnnn NEPAL PLAYS MAYAYSIA IN ACC TWENTY20 Kathmandu, 30 March: Nepal plays Malaysia Saturday in the ACC Twenty20 Cup after winning a match against Maldives and losing to Hong Kong. Nepal must win to qualify for the semi-final for which Hong Kong has already qualified. nnnn 32 SELECTED FOR CRICKET TRAINING CAMP Kathmandu, 30 March Thirty-two players have been selected by Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) Friday for the closed training camp for the upcoming ACC U-19 Elite Cup being held 1 May 1 in Malaysia. Amit Dahal, Kalicharan Yadav, Mayanand Chaudhary and Suman Shrestha of Biratnagar and Avinash Karn, Ram Naresh Giri, Suraj Kumar Kurmi, Amit Shrestha and Irshad Ahmed of Birgunj . Prakash Bista (A), Prakash Bista (B), Sarad Khadka, Bibas Thapa and Pawan Shrestha, Sabin Shakya, Nirmal Thapa, Prakash KC, Bibek Chaudhary and Sushant Bhari are also in the team.. Amar Singh Rautela and Inamuddin Halwai of Nepalgunj; Bhuban Karki, Prem Tamang, Arjun Chapagain and Yagyaman Kumal of Baitadi; Sameer Nepal, Avishek Jha, Rahul Pratap Singh and Hari Shankar Shah of Janakpur; and Nischal Pandey, Anil Gurung and Dhurba Karki of Region No 8 have been chosen for the closed camp eing opened in Pokhara from 2 April. , . Nnnn CAPITAL’S MORNING TEMPERATURE 13 DEGREES CELSIUS Kathmandu, 30 March: Capital’s Saturday morning temperature at seven was13 degrees Celsius. Mercury is expected to rise to 31 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. nnnn, EC EFFORTS REMOVING LEGAL HURDLES FOR VOTE Kathmandu, 30 March: In a bid to clear the legal hurdles and make necessary preparations for the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls, the Election Commission (EC) has begun discussions with the major political parties, Gani Ansari writes in Republica.. Top EC officials including Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety and Commissioners Dolakh Bahadur Gurung, Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, Rambhakta PB Thakur and Ila Sharma on Thursday asked members of the taskforce which was entrusted with the responsibility for drafting an ordinance on removing constitutional difficulties, about the intention and spirit behind the 25-point ordinance. “We held discussions with the core team as it is necessary to amend all the election-related acts,” said Uprety. According to EC officials, the 25-point ordinance on removing constitutional difficulties has not yet cleared all the legal hurdles. “The 25-point ordinance has only amended the Interim Constitution but not the election-related acts. And these election-related laws must be amended in order to pave the way for elections,” an EC official told Republica on condition of anonymity. The constitutional body has stated that the Election of Members of Constituent Assembly Act, 2064 and the Electoral Rolls Act, 2064, among other election related acts, need to be amended. EC officials have said that point number 12 of the 25-point ordinance on removing constitutional difficulties is ambiguous as it states that the electoral rolls will be updated as per the voter list prepared for the erstwhile CA polls and Clause 11 of the Electoral Rolls Act, 2064, which does not compulsorily require citizenship certificates. “The old electoral rolls are no longer relevant as the EC has been preparing a voter list with photos and biometrics, and Clause 11 of the Electoral Rolls Act, 2064 is also defunct. So, we need clarity on these issues,” added the EC officials. CPN-UML leader and advocate Agni Kharel, who was present at the meeting, said that they would hold further discussions on Friday. “We decided to hold further discussions on a draft amendment of the necessary election-related acts tomorrow (Friday),” Kharel told media persons after the meeting. Asked if CA polls could be conducted by June, NC leader Minendra Rijal, who was present at the meeting, said, “We all wish to hold the polls by June 21 but the practical difficulties are not hidden from anyone.” At a time when some fringe political parties are obstructing the ongoing voter registration, Secretary at the Home Ministry Navin Ghimire, who held a meeting with the EC commissioners, said his ministry has been providing necessary security to EC officials deployed for the purpose. He also informed that the Home Ministry will soon deploy mobile teams to distribute citizenship certificates, which are essential for the voter registration. Nnnn NEPAL ELECTION IN PERSPECTIVE Kathamandu, 30 March: Top leaders from the three major political parties and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) on Friday decided to hold talks with disgruntled political parties with a view to persuading them to participate in the coming Constituent Assembly (CA) elections and not disrupt the ongoing voter registration drive by the Election Commission, Republica reports.. A meeting of the High Level Political Committee, which provides necessary support to the technocratic government to create an environment for elections, decided to talk to the agitating political parties. Top leaders from the three major political parties -- UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML-- and UDMF, accompanied by other party leaders, represent their parties on the committee. The meeting was held at the office of the Special Committee for Integration of Former Maoist combatants, at New Baneshwar. "Top leaders from the four major parties will talk to leaders from the agitating parties," UCPN (Maoist) Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha told Republica. "Talks with them will be held right from tomorrow as per the convenience of the leaders concerned." A dozen organizations, including the Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist, Upendra Yadav´s Madhesi People´s Rights Forum and Ashok Rai´s Federal Socialist Party, have protested the four-party deal, forged without their consent, on forming the election government under the leadership of the chief justice and holding elections in June. The Baidya Maoists have seized laptops, web cameras and other logistics from election officials deployed for voter registeration in various districts, in the last couple of days. According to Shrestha, the parties are for holding talks with all the political parties and various other groups which are dissatisfied with the recent political decisions and have been protesting against the latest developments. The leaders decided to suggest to the government to initiate the process of forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission without delay, as the relevent ordinance has already been endorsed to pave the way for its formation. The leaders also decided to talk to the government and the election commission officials and suggest to them to fix an election date without further delay. "An understanding has already been reached at the political level to conduct polls by June 21. Now it´s up to the government to fix a specific date," said Shrestha. "We will ask the government as well as the election commission about the things that the political parties need to be doing to support them in holding polls." A cabinet meeting earlier on Friday formed a talks team headed by Home and Foreign Minister Madhav Ghimire and with a mandate to talk to the dissident political parties, the election commission, civil society and other concerned groups with an objective of creating an environment conducive for elections. Minister for Health and Local Development Bidyadhar Mallik and Minister for Information and Communication Madhav Paudel are others on the three-member government team tasked with the responsibility of holding talks and laying the ground for polls. "This committee will mainly play a coordinating and bridging role between the government and other stakeholders through dialogue," Paudel told Republica. The government also decided to appeal to various agitating groups, including civil servants´ organizations, to support the government in holding polls within the given timeframe. "We will first listen to their concerns and grievances. The government will first address their valid concerns and make an appeal to them to play a positive role in holding elections," said Paudel. nnnn