Nepal Today

Thursday, March 14, 2013

MEETINGS CONVENED TO DISCUSS DEVELOPMENTS Kathmandu, 15 March: Opposition UML informal central committee has been convened Friday morning to discuss fresh political developments. A meeting of small parties is also being held to draw up protest plans against the Khil Raj Regmi administration. nnnn. . LOBBYING FOR GOVT. POSTS STARTS Kathmandu, 15 March: As a three-member Cabinet led by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi was sworn in on Thursday, there was hectic lobbying and widespread speculations over the possible line-up of members in the interim election government, Phaniondra Dahal writes in The Kathmandu Post. . Informed sources said Regmi was given a free hand to choose former chief secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire as the home and foreign affairs minister and former law secretary Hari Prasad Neupane as the law, labour and employment minister. A political source claimed that there will be unofficial recommendations from the major parties for the remaining eight Cabinet members. Retired bureaucrats are learnt to have reached out to the leadership of the major parties to secure berths in the Cabinet . Similarly, there are voices that the Cabinet , which so far consists of three male Brahmins, should be more inclusive with the representation of women and marginalised groups. “We expect that the chairman of the government will constitute an inclusive Cabinet ,” said Nepal Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato. Former finance secretary Bidhyadhar Malik and former industry secretary Umakanta Jha are key contenders from the Madhesi community, while former Secretary at the PM’s Office Brinda Hada may represent women in the Cabinet . Former Finance Secretary Rameshwor Khanal, who served as economic advisor to former PM Baburam Bhattarai, was pitched as a contender for finance minister. Sources claimed that Malik, who is now an advisor to President Ram Baran Yadav, has greater chances for the Finance Ministry. According to political and bureaucratic sources, some contenders for the post are former home secretaries Umesh Mainali and Govinda Kusum, former Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority secretary Bhagawati Kafle and former energy secretary Shankar Koirala. Mainali is considered close to the Nepali Congress, while Kusum, who is also affiliated to the Chaudhary Group, is close to CPN-UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel. Former local development secretary Ram Kumar Shrestha, former physical development and works secretary Purna Prasad Kadariya are also being discussed as tentative candidates from the UCPN (Maoist). Former general secretary of the Parliament Secretariat Surya Kiran Gurung is also speculated to figure in the list. Despite pressure to include retired security chiefs in the Cabinet , parties signed an agreement to only include retired special class officers from the civil service to avoid maneuvering and foul play, according to one leader. Former Armed Police Chief Sanat Kumar Basnet had reached out to leaders to secure a post, while the name of the retired Nepal Police Chief, Rabindra Pratap Shah, had also figured in discussions. A senior government source said that the date for the second round of oath taking has yet to be set. "It is likely that all the remaining eight members will be sworn in together," said the official. nnnn GENEVA BASED ICJ ASKS REGMI TO STEP DOWN Kathmandu, 15 March: The International Commission of Jurists ( ICJ ) has called on Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi to step down as a judge after being appointed to lead the election government, The Kathmandu Post writes. In a statement, the Geneva-based rights organisation said Regmi should not keep his position at the Supreme Court so as to “preserve the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law”. “To preserve the Nepali judiciary’s hard-won independence, the Chief Justice should step down from his post as soon as he assumes his position at the top of the Executive Branch,” said Ben Schonveld, ICJ ’s South Asia Director. As per the four parties’ agreement, Regmi will not be performing his duties as the Chief Justice while exercising executive powers in brokering elections to the Constituent Assembly. Once elections are held, the agreement provides that Regmi will resume his regular duties as the CJ. “Appointing the serving Chief Justice to act as Chairperson of the Council of Ministers throws the country into uncharted constitutional waters,” said Schonveld. nnnn