Nepal Today

Friday, March 22, 2013

FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTCES ASK REGMI TO RESIGN AS CHIEF JUSTICE Kathmandu, 23 March: Fformer Supreme Court Chief Justice and twp retired jjustices Friday asked Chairman of Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi to resign as chief justice. The resignation was called through a joint statement issued by Anup Raj Sharma and ex- justices Balram KC and Bharat Raj Upreti Nnnn FOOTBALL LEAGUE LEADER THREE STAR PLAYS RCT Kathmandu, 23 March: MMC plays Machindra in the martyrs memorial A division super league championship at Dashrath Ransashala Saturday. RCT plays league leader Three Star in another match. nnnn CAPITAL’S TEMPERATURE SATURDAY MORNING 12 DEGREES CELSIUS temperature Kathmandu, 23 March: Capital’s minimum temperature Saturday at seven as 12 degrees Celsius. Mercury on a cloudy day is expected t rise t 26 degrees Celsius. Nnnn GOVT. SENDING BACK REACTION TO APPOINTMENTS OF ELECTION COMMISSIONERS SATURDAY Kathmandu, 23 March: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav has written to the Interim Election Council of Ministers to clarify whether its recommendations to reappoint former election commissioners would breach existing constitutional Provisions, Reublica reports.. President Yadav wrote to the chairman of the Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi after the council recommended to him to reappoint former Acting Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Upreti as Chief Election Commissioner and another former acting chief election commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung and former Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav as commissioners. The president´s letter has asked whether their reinstatement would attract Clause 3 and 7 of the Article 128 of the Interim Constitution. Article 128 has provisions about the Election Commission and appointment of commissioners. While Clause 3 of the Article 128 of the Interim Constitution states that the term of office of the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners shall be six years from the date of appointment, Clause 7 of the same Article states that a person once appointed as the Chief Election Commissioner or the Election Commissioner shall not be eligible for appointment in other government services. President Yadav´s press advisor Rajendra Dahal said the letter was just to draw the government´s attention to those particular provisions of the Interim Constitution. "The recommendations have neither been rejected, nor been sent back. The president will do the needful after government gives clarification on those constitutional provisions," said Dahal. Following a letter from the President´s Office, a meeting of the High Level Political Committee was held at the official residence of Council Chairman Regmi in Baluwatar. Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, UCPN (Maoist) Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) Coordinator Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar were present at the meeting. According to Chairman Regmi´s press advisor R P Pandey, the one-hour long meeting discussed contemporary political issues including the reappointment of the former election commissioners. Minister for Information and Communications Madhav Poudel, who is also the government´s spokesperson, said the government had held detailed discussion on the issues raised by President Yadav before forwarding those names through the Constitutional Committee to the President´s Office for their reappointment. "I don´t see there are any constitutional difficulties to reappoint them in the Election Commission," he said. Poudel said that clause 20 of the 25-point constitutional amendments made earlier by the President Dr Yadav clearly states that the appointments in the constitutional bodies will be made by the Constitutional Council as per the recommendation of the High Level Political Committee. He said that since the recommendation was made by the CC as per the recommendation of the High Level Political Committee, there should not be any problem in reappointing them in the EC. Poudel said a meeting of the High Level Political Committee is scheduled for Saturday to hold detailed discussions on the issue. "We will send the government´s response to the President´s office after the meeting," he said. Published on 2013-03-23 00:00:01 Nnnn EU ENVOYS ASKS FOR PROPOSALS FROM GOVT. TO ASSIST IN ELECTIONS Kathmandu, 23 March: - Kathmandu-based European ambassadors have sought a proposal from the government outlining its specific requests for help in Nepal's electoral process but also reiterated their reservations over the recently enacted Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Ordinance, The Kathmandu Post writes.. In a meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs Madhav Ghimire on Friday, where almost all European ambassadors were present, they offered their "full support for free, fair and inclusive Constituent Assembly elections." Expressing concern over the TRC Ordinance , the ambassadors submitted a two-page non-paper to Minister Ghimire and reiterated their position that the TRC process meet international standards. In response, Minister Ghimre informed that the Nepal government is preparing a position paper where suggestions from the ambassadorial corps can be incorporated. A statement on the TRC issued early this week by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights best reflects the European position on the issue, according to Alexander Spachis, head of the European Union Delegation to Nepal. When asked how the Nepal government had responded to their reservations, Spachis remained evasive, only saying, "They are doing what they have to do." He instead put emphasis on the upcoming elections, "This is their first priority." According to a Foreign Ministry official present at the meeting, the ambassadors asked that the government come up with a package that states Nepal's requirements to hold elections, along with the categoric sectors where help is required. "We are very much supportive of the election process here as we have been continuously supporting it through the Nepal Peace Trust Fund," said Swiss Ambassador to Nepal Thomas Gass. Envoy Gass said that they suggested that Minister Ghimire, who is their natural contact person in the government, bring onboard smaller parties, stakeholders and other dissenting factions who are opposing elections. The ambassadors also informed the minister of their meeting with leaders of the CPN-Maoist a few days ago where they had advised the agitating party to join the electoral process . Minister Ghimire, in reply, said that the government is committed to free and fair elections. "As all political parties have committed to take part in elections, it is going to be an inclusive one. We have been meeting with party leaders and asking them to take part in the elections. And as political parties represent the voices of various spectrums of society, naturally the election is going to be an inclusive one," Ghimire told the ambassadors. Nnnn AMNESTY PROPOSALS FOR RIGHTS ABUSERS OPPPOSED Kathmandu, 23 March: - International human rights watchdogs have expressed concern over the amnesty provision in the recently enacted Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Person, Truth and Reconciliation Ordinance 2013, claiming that the provision will make it impossible for thousands of victims of gross human rights violations to obtain justice, The Kathmandu Post writes. In a joint statement on Friday, the Asian Centre for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and TRIAL said that the amnesty provision is a fundamental flaw of the ordinance. “The new ordinance leaves open the door to amnesties for persons implicated in gross human rights violations and crimes under international law,” said Ben Schonveld, ICJ's South Asia director. The ordinance grants the to-be-formed commission discretion to recommend amnesty for perpetrators if the grounds for that determination are deemed 'reasonable'. There is no definition of what 'reasonable' is. The organisations argued that the commission's powers to recommend prosecution may mean little without crimes being adequately defined in law. The final decision on whether to prosecute can only be made by the attorney general, a political government appointee, instead of an independent entity. “The provisions on prosecution contained in this ordinance don't appear to be strong enough to overcome Nepal's entrenched practices of safeguarding impunity by withdrawing cases or failing to pursue credible allegations," said TRIAL Director Philip Grant from Geneva. The organisations have called upon the government to establish a mechanism to review and amend the legislation in consultation with victims of human rights abuses and civil society. “This ordinance was signed by the prime minister and president in record time without any consultation with conflict victims and civil society,” said Schonveld. The rights groups also expressed concern about the ordinance's emphasis on reconciliation at the possible expense of justice for victims. The ordinance cedes authority to the commission to implement “inter-personal reconciliation” between victim and perpetrator, even if neither the victim nor the perpetrator requests it, which could result in pressure being placed on a victim to give up any claims against a perpetrator. Although the ordinance mentions the need for victim and witness protection, there are no specific safeguards to ensure the safety and security of victims who become involved in reconciliation processes. “The passage of this ordinance is just the latest example of the Nepal government's cynical willingness to trade meaningful justice and accountability for political expediency,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “The government is kidding itself if it thinks it can ignore the voices of Nepal's thousands of victims of human rights abuses. Nepal needs meaningful government initiatives to address its human rights problems, not the veneer of justice that this flawed ordinance represents.” nnnn CHAIRMAN REGMI ATTEMPTS RESOLITION AFTER PRESIDENTIAL REJECTION OF RECOMMENDATIONS OF NAMES FOR ELECTION OFFICIALS Kathmandu, 23 March: Chairman of the interim election government Khil Raj Regmi today [Friday] held discussions with the members of High-Level Political Committee to find a way to resolve the crisis triggered by President Ram Baran Yadav’s move to seek explanation from Constitutional Council about the legality of its recommendation to reappoint three former commissioners to the Election Commission, The Himalaya Times writes.. Sources said he sought suggestions from the party leaders about the steps that should be taken to clear the constitutional difficulties in the appointments and the leaders advised Regmi to meet President Yadav and request him to implement the Constitutional Commission’s yesterday’s recommendation. “The HLPC is firm on its recommendation to the Constitutional Council and wants the President to implement the CC’s recommendation on the appointments in the Election Commission,” said CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal. Chairman Regmi held talks on all contemporary political issues with the leaders of four major political forces but the meeting did not take any decision, Regmi’s press coordinator Rajendra Prasad Pande told The Himalayan Times. Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, Unified CPN-Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and United Democratic Madhesi Front leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar were present during the meeting held at Regmi’s official residence, where he shifted to from chief justice’s residence yesterday. Nnnn MAOIST CHIEF DAHAL LAUNCHES UNCERTAIN ELECTION CAMPAIGN FROM DHANUSHA Kathmandu, 23 March Former UML leader Ram Chandra Jha, taking the stance that he would not join the UCPN (Maoist) without prior conformation of his position in the party, failed to announce at a mass gathering held in Janakpur on Friday that he was joining, Suresh Yadav writes in Republica from Janakpur... Jha had resigned from the UML on Thursday via fax. "Jha said he will join the party only after conformation of his post in the party," according to Maoist sources. "Jha deserves the post of secretary in the party. We cannot but be big-hearted if he joins," said a Maoist leader, informing that Jha will get a high party post once he joins. Maoist leaders say that their party has already given high posts to those joining the party, citing the examples of party Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and others. Party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal himself arrived in Janakpur to welcome Jha at a function organized to celebrate the 11th memorial day of Ajabalal Yadav. Dahal also went to Jha´s residence along with party leaders Haribol Gajrel, Ram Kumar Yadav and Ram Kumar Sharma. "Some UML central committee members showed interest in joining the new party along with me. I will join after holding discussions with them," said Jha. According to sources close to Jha, he demanded some more time to discuss with all his comrades as he had failed to discuss anything as of Friday. He also demanded a week more to make preparations for joining. At programs held at Mahendranagar and Dhanushadham, around 150 local leaders of the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party joined the UCPN (Maoist). Addressing the mass gathering at Dhanushadham, Dahal announced his desire to be a candidate from Madhes. "I want to offer my candidacy from Dhanusa," said Dahal, arguing that Madhes has given the country a president and preparations for the 10-year Maoist people´s war were also made in Dhanusa. He said he had already expressed his wish and it was for the party to take a formal decision. He clamed that his candidacy would convey to people the message of how the Maoist party is Madhesi-friendly. Dahal also clamed that his party would get 80 percent of the vote in the upcoming elections. Nnnn CALL TO ROLLBACK FEE HIKE FOR NEW POWR PROJCTS Kathmandu, 23 March: Independent Power Producers’ Association of Nepal (IPPAN) and hydropower developers today [Friday] urged Energy Minister Umakanta Jha to roll back the hike in licence fees for power developers saying it has discouraged the genuine developers, The Himalayan Times writes.. The government had increased by up to 600 per cent survey and generation licence fees in October last year. Stating that they hadn’t received any new application for the survey licence after the fee increment, IPPAN President Subarna Das Shrestha said, “The government should monitor each indicator of the terms of the survey licence rather than discouraging investors through the policy of revenue collection. The revenue collection should not get precedence over the development of power projects, he added. The government had increased the licence fees to discourage the trend of ‘occupying the rivers’, however the decision has met with damaging repercussions — over two dozen projects with total capacity of 800 MW have been scrapped in the last four months. IPPAN also took exception to the policy of denial to sign Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) by the Nepal Electricity Authority for the super six projects which were awarded after open bidding in 2010. One IPPAN member questioned the dual role of the government agency saying NEA had refused to sign PPAs with projects awarded by the Department of Electricity Development (DoED) for further development. Singiti (16 MW), Khare (24.1 MW), Upper Solu (23.5 MW), Lower Solu (82 MW), Maya Khola (14.9 MW) and Mewa (50 MW) are the super six projects with total capacity of 210 MW. However, these projects, which were expected to complete by 2015 end, are hanging in the balance after the NEA’s reluctance to sign the PPA. The IPPAN further demanded the cancellation of five per cent environmental service fees imposed by the Ministry of Forest on the income of the hydropower. IPPAN member Gyanendra Lal Pradhan urged the government to support hydro developers saying there is no benefit in the investment of hydro sector. Shashi Sagar Rajbhandari, one of the developers of super six projects, said after investing three years in studying and completing all the due process for the PPA, they have neither the PPA nor the generation licence. The government had awarded six projects with conditions of paying postdate rate, timely construction of the transmission line, and completing the feasibility study in 2010, but the government agencies are found to be reluctant to sign the PPA. Meanwhile, Minister Jha said the country needs to focus on small-size projects rather than mega projects to meet the current demand for power. On other various issues raised by the IPPAN, he said they need to sit for talks regarding the issue of licence fees, among others. nnnn


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