Nepal Today

Sunday, March 3, 2013

EIGHT KILLED, 30 OF WEDDING PARTY INDURED IN PALPA BUS ACCIDENT Kathmandu, 4 March: At least eight persons were killed and 30 injured when a passenger bus carrying a wedding party veered off the road on Siddhartha Highway in Palpa district on Sunday night. Bus returning from Ramdi to Chidipani skidded off the road at Dhaireni and fell 400 metres down at around 10:20. Eight bodies have been recovered, The Himalayan TImees reports from Palpa. Nnnn NEPAL PLAYS BANGLADESH Kathmandu, 4 March< Nepal plays Bangladesh Monday at Dashrath Ranashala in AFC Group D Qualifiers. Hosts defeated North Mariana Island in its first outing. Bangladesh plays Nepal after losing to Palestine considered the strongest team in the Group. Nnnn CJ-LED GOVT. BEFORE SC VERDICT CONSIDERED Kathmandu, 4 March : Leaders from four major political parties have decided to move ahead with appointment of chief justice as the prime minister even before the Supreme Court´s scheduled hearing on the issue, Thira L BHusal writes in Republica,. . Though the court is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the case on March 7, leaders from the major political parties said they plan to appoint chief justice as the prime minister within the next couple of days. Chairman of Tarai Madhes-Democratic Party (TMDP) Mahantha Thakur said that if everything goes as planned during the talks on Sunday, initiatives to remove constitutional difficulties in forming the government and holding elections, among other related issues, will be taken on Tuesday. “And, then we will appoint the chief justice as the prime minister 24 hours after we take steps toward removing constitutional difficulties,” Thakur told reporters while emerging from the interparty talks held at the prime minister´s official residence in Baluwatar. However, leaders from NC and CPN-UML are insisting that all the tasks, including amending the constitutional provision on government formation, removing constitutional difficulties through the president´s order and appointing chief justice as prime minister should be carried out simultaneously. “They [NC and UML leaders] are for doing carrying out all these tasks simultaneously and we are still holding talks on the matter,” said Thakur. NC and UML leaders want to carry out these tasks simultaneously fearing that the present government might prolong its stay in power if the plan to form CJ-led government is foiled after the constitutional difficulties are removed. The leaders plan to appoint the chief justice as prime minister even as they still have serious differences over certain provisions on formation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), criteria for voters´ list and rank and position of former Maoist combatants in the Nepal Army. Thakur said that they discussed issues relating to TRC´s provisions, citizenship and voters´ list, among other things, but they couldn´t reach any conclusion and decided to continue the talks on Monday. A major bone of contention among the major political parties is provisions on TRC bill, which has already been forwarded to the president´s office but the head of state has shelved it for months asking the government to forge consensus on the matter. Opposition parties, including NC and UML, have strongly objected to the provision on general amnesty proposed in the TRC bill. While UCPN (Maoist) is pushing for inclusion of the provision on general amnesty, opposition parties have been arguing that general amnesty for those involved in the heinous crimes during the conflict wouldn´t be acceptable. Sources privy to the talks said NC leaders, mainly former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who also headed government during the insurgency period, have lately expressed flexibility on the provision regarding general amnesty. But CPN-UML leaders are strongly objecting to the proposal. “It is our firm stance that while drafting laws we must ensure that those involved in serious human rights violations are held accountable and the victims get justice,” CPN-UML leader Agni Kharel, who is involved in the talks, told Republica. “We are not ready for any compromise on that.” He also informed that they are for amending the article related to government formation in the interim constitution by allowing not only the chief justice but also former chief justice or any other candidate who is not member of the parliament to contest for the prime minister´s post. “We want to allow other candidates to contest for the post so as to avoid possible constitutional complication in future in case the CJ-led government fails to hold elections or the government ceases to exist for any reason,” said Kharel. Also, the ruling Maoist leaders want to reach a deal on determining the rank of former Maoist combatants in the national army, but the NC and UML leaders have been arguing that it should be done either in accordance with NA standards or should be decided by the cross-party special committee, which is mandated to oversee the issue of army integration. Republica adds: UCPN (Maoist) spokesman Agni Prasad Sapkota has alleged that opposition parties including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are against new elections. Talking to media persons at the UCPN (Maoist) head office in Parisdanda on Sunday said the ongoing activities of the opposition parties show that they are unwilling to face election. "Nepali Congress and CPN-UML just want the ouster of the current government, so they are organizing . So, they are holding functions outside the capital," said Sapkota. He also claimed that the elections can be held in mid-June. According to him, former commissioners of the Election Commission have said that elections can be held if the political parties are able to reach consensus by coming Friday. "We can hold elections by reinstating the former commissioners to the Election Commission through political consensus," added Sapkota. He said those opposing the formation of the chief justice-led government are in fact against ending the political deadlock. According to him, the environment for new elections is in the making. "First of all the parties should resolve the difficulties of the constitution for election," said Sapkota informing that the country will be in more crisis if the difficulties are not resolved. "If the possibility of holding elections in mid-June ends then the process of forming the chief justice-led government will be stopped," added Sapkota. Meanwhile, Sapkota said his party will move ahead by forging working alliance with Mohan Baidya´s CPN-Maoist. Nnnn GOVT. PANEL AGAINST RESTORING INSURGENCY-ERA DESERTERS Kathmandu, 4 March: A government panel formed to study the demands of those who quit their jobs in security agencies and civil service citing Maoist threat during the insurgency has recommended against reinstating them in their former jobs, Kosh Raj Koirala writes in Republica.. The four-member panel headed by Joint Secretary Sadhu Ram Sapkota at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction (MoPR) maintained that restoring those ´deserters´ in their previous jobs will not only set a bad precedent, but also erode the morale of the security personnel, who performed their duty despite severity and risks in the course of the armed Maoist insurgency. Three other members of the panel included Joint Secretaries Dwarika Prasad Acharya (Ministry of Home), Murari Prasad Sharma (Ministry of Defense) and Mahendra Guragain (Ministry of General Administration). [BREAK] Though the panel formed by the Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Top Bahadur Rayamajhi on October 18, 2012 was asked to submit report within one month, the panel could submit its report to Peace Secretary Dharanidhar Khatiwada only a few days ago due to delays. “The panel has categorically suggested to the government not to restore them in their former jobs saying this will bring various kinds of negative implications in their respective organizations,” said Deputy Spokesperson Prem Prasad Sanjel at the MoPR. The number of ´deserters´ from Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, National Investigation Department, Nepal Army and those quitting civil service under pressure from then rebel party stands at 46,490. After the ´deserters" launched protest demanding reinstatement in their former jobs, Minister Rayamajhi had decided to form a Study Committee. Deputy Spokesperson Sanjel said the panel has said that existing laws do not allow reinstatement of those who have resigned so various laws and acts governing the police, military and civil services need to be amended. “It will be against the existing law to reward such persons through restoration instead of punishing them as per the existing laws,” the panel has said, while referring to the Military Act wherein a ´deserter´ will have to face a life-long imprisonment. The report has suggested to the government to seriously consider various negative implications of reinstatement. It has said reinstatement of deserters will degrade the morale of those who continued in their jobs during the conflict and the government will have to pay huge amounts in accumulated salaries among other things. “The government also needs to think whether it is justifiable to amend various acts and laws just to address the demands of ´deserters´,” the report has further stated. While suggesting to the government not to take any decision toward restoring the deserter security personnel and civil servants, the panel has asked the government to provide them alternative options if the government feels its responsibility toward them. “The panel has suggested that they could be given employment in other alternative areas such as Chure Conservation or Industrial Security,” said Deputy Spokesperson Sanjel. Nnnn PETROLEUM DEALERS THREAT Kathmandu, 4 March: The Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association has threatened to shut petrol pumps from tomorrow if the government did not hike their commission. Petroleum dealers will not buy petroleum products — petrol, diesel, kerosene or air fuel — from Nepal Oil Corporation beginning tomorrow, said general secretary of the association Bishwa Prasad Aryal. Their threat had an immediate fallout, as serpentine queues were seen outside petrol pumps operated by Nepal Police and Nepali Army in the Kathmandu Valley. More than 1,000 motorbikes and cars were standing in front of Nepal Police petrol pump in Naxal. “We have informed the Office of Prime Minister, Ministry of Commerce and Supply and Nepal Oil Corporation about our protest,” Aryal said, adding that they have demanded reasonable hike in their commission. The government knows about the increasing operating costs due to donation drive, increased salary of workers and load-shedding and hoped it would hike their commission. The association has also asked the government to implement the agreements reached between them earlier. NPDA’s protest plan comes a day after the sole supplier, Indian Oil Corporation, began supplying the required fuel quantity. The country needs around 3.5 lakh litres of petrol and around four lakh litres of diesel every day under normal conditions. About 14,000 metric tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas is consumed in the country in a month. Indian Oil Corporation had reduced its supply by 25 per cent last week, as Nepal Oil Corporation’s amount due to IOC had crossed Rs 1.5 billion. NOC has been suffering huge losses since 2007, as it couldn’t hike prices by a desired amount due to political interference in the pricing mechanism. It owes around Rs 20 billion in debt to financial institutions. The state-owned oil monopoly decreased its storage capacity from 14-15 days to six-seven days following a financial crisis two years ago. Nnnn FEUD DEVELOPS IN UCPN MAOIST OVER CENTRAL COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS Kathmandu, 4 March - Ahead of the party's first Central Committee meeting after its seventh general convention, the ruling UCPN (Maoist) has plunged into an internal feud owing to the differences in internal power-sharing. The CC meet, which will begin on March 9, plans to make appointments to vacant post s in the Office Bearer, the Standing Committee, the Politburo and the Central Committee, The Kathmandu Post writes.. The party's general convention held in Hetauda last month had decided to form a 151-member CC, although convention representatives had demanded limiting its size below 100. During the convention, only 98 members were appointed due to disputes between the rival factions. The planned CC is likely to appoint the remaining members. However, nominations are going to be difficult given the large number of aspirants and rival factions competing to nominate leaders close to them. Leaders close to Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai are already dissatisfied as the convention picked a large number of leaders who had joined the party after it entered peaceful politics in 2006. Out of the 98 appointed CC members, 42 were not involved in the 10-year armed insurgency. This has disappointed committed leaders and cadres, said Maoist leader Kumar Poudel, who is close to Bhattarai. Now, there is pressure on the party leadership to pick leaders who were active in the party during the insurgency. Due to the differences among the rival factions of Dahal, Bhattarai and Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the party's general convention failed to nominate the party secretary and the treasurer. Then secretary Post Bahadur Bogati was elevated to the post of general secretary as Bhattarai refused to nominate Krishna Bahadur Mahara for the post. The first CC meet is also scheduled to give final shape to the party's political document presented by Chairman Dahal during the convention. In his document, Dahal has proposed ambitious plans such as the formation of production departments and checking corruption at party organisations. nnnn


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