Nepal Today

Thursday, March 14, 2013

TOP ARMY BRASS MEETS AMID GOVT. CHANGE Kathmandu, 15 March: The conference of the top generals of the Nepali Army kicked off today at the Army Headquarters in Jangi Adda. Chief of Army Staff Gen Gaurav Shumsher Rana presided over the two-day meet of the top generals, The Himalayan Times writes.. All division chiefs, along with the heads of directorates, directorate generals and other generals of the army, were present in the conference, where they briefed the gathering about their jurisdictions, reviewed the progress, problems and challenges, trainings and operations. The top generals also spoke on the current security situation of the country. A source said some generals raised the issues of integration of former Maoist fighters into the army, especially about giving one colonel and two lieutenant colonels to them. Nepali Army Spokesperson Brig Gen Suresh Sharma, however, claimed that the issue of granting army posts to former Maoist combatants did not surface during the conference. The Department of Public Relations at NA said in a statement that this year onward, all retired generals above the ranks of major general will attend the conference and share their experiences. Nnnn POSTPONEMENT OF HEARING ON REGMI APPOINTMENT DRAWS FLAK, SUPREME COURT DRAGGED INTO IMMEDIATE CONTROVERSY Kathmandu, 15 March: Legal experts today [Thursday] accused the Supreme Court of deliberately assigning the case regarding Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi’s appointment as the head of an election government to a certain bench with an intention to delay the case. With Regmi’s appointment as the government head, senior justices Damodar Prasad Sharma and Ram Kumar Prasad Shah have automatically become acting Chief Justice and seniormost justice. Sharma and Shah will work as ex-officio chairman and member of the Judicial Council, which is also a defendant in the case. Shah declined to conduct a hearing on the case today, saying conflict of interest may arise if he hears the case against the CJ as he is also an ex-officio member of the JC, the body tasked with appointing judges. Nepal Bar Association President Shambhu Thapa advised the bench to go ahead with the hearing while senior advocate Ram Nath Mainali and advocate Gandhi Pundit suggested the bench not to hear the case. The court is yet to fix the next date for the hearing. Aryal said he thought the apex court had assigned the case to a certain bench to create a situation. Lawyers’ organisations have expressed serious concern about CJ’s appointment as chairman of the Council of Ministers and have urged him to resign the CJ’s post. “Regmi assigned the case making sure that it does not come in the way of his swearing-in as PM,” Tikaram Bhattarai, vice-president, Nepal Bar Association, told this daily. “This is a black day in the history of nation’s judiciary,” NBA said in its press statement issued after its emergency meeting today. In a separate press statement, general secretary of the lawyers’ umbrella organisation, Sunil Pokhrel, said they will announce protests at a meeting to be held tomorrow. According to NBA, the parties have handed over power to the CJ to fulfil their vested interests. Democratic Lawyers’ Association also demanded Regmi’s resignation as CJ. “We reiterate that CJ’s appointment as head of the government is against the principle of constitutionalism, separation of powers and checks and balances,” said Yadu Nath Khanal, DLA president. Meanwhile, advocates Chandra Kanta Gyawali and Om Prakash Aryal today filed a writ petition against President Ram Baran Yadav’s order to remove difficulties for the appointment of Chief Justice Regmi as chairman of the Council of Ministers. The advocates demanded scrapping of the order saying it is against the spirit of the Interim Constitution and the principle of separation of powers as well as checks and balances. nnnn MANAGING DISSENT FOR CRUCIAL POLLS Kathmandu, 15 March : “The chief justice must resign before he is appointed as the prime minister. Otherwise, the leaders and party representatives involved in the talks would be squarely blamed for the consequences,” read a memorandum submitted to Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala by 17 of the party´s central committee members, including some influential leaders such as Gopal Man Shrestha, Kul Bahadur Gurung, Purna Bahadur Khadka, Pushpa Bhusal, Gagan Thapa and Bal Bahadur KC. Thira L. Bhusal writes in Republica. Shrestha had reached the secretariat of the Special Committee in New Baneshwar, where the talks were being held, to hand over the letter to Koirala around an hour before the top leaders signed the final deal on late Wednesday night. But, the 11-point agreement clearly stated that Khil Raj Regmi, chairman of the interim election government, would resume his work as the chief justice after accomplishing the task of holding fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) elections. “The chairman of the interim election government will return to his previous position after the new prime minister is elected,” read the agreement. The CPN-UML was also under pressure to ask the chief justice to resign before he was elevated to the top executive post. In the UML, an absolute majority of central committee members strongly opposed the proposal to form a CJ-led government, while the standing committee remained sharply divided on the issue. Some key leaders, including former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel, secretaries Shankar Pokharel and Yubaraj Gyawali and former CA chairman Subas Nembang, among other leaders, were lobbying for CJ´s resignation prior to his appointment as the chairman of the interim election government. On the other hand, UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, KP Sharma Oli, Bamdev Gautam, Bidya Bhandari and Bishnu Paudel actively lobbied for the CJ-led government. A large section of leaders from the NC and UML have opposed the decision to form a CJ-led government claiming that the Maoist-floated proposal has an ulterior motive to drag the Supreme Court into controversy and undermine the independence of the judiciary. The days ahead will not be easy for Regmi as the legal sector, mainly the Nepal Bar Association, is not in favor of the chief justice heading the interim election government. The lawyers´ umbrella organization Thursday said it would come up with protest programs within a couple of days. The top leaders of the major forces despite the opposition seemed undeterred though. They decided to appoint Regmi as the chairman of the interim election government without asking for his resignation as the chief justice. According to a leader involved in the negotiations, the talks team didn´t even discuss if Regmi´s resignation as the chief justice was necessary before he assumed the top executive post. “We didn´t discuss the issue. Instead, we focused more on finding common grounds so that the CJ-led election government could materialize,” UML leader Bhim Rawal told Republica. He said that if the government and the political leadership succeeded in creating grounds for fresh polls, opposition against the decision of the four major political forces would subside. On the contrary, the disgruntled groups are relentless in their opposition against the decision. Terming the Wednesday´s agreement an unfortunate deal, former home minister Khadka said NC President Koirala signed the agreement against the party´s official decision. He also accused the leaders of blatantly violating the basic democratic principles of separation of powers and of making a mockery of constitutionalism by amending several provisions of the interim constitution invoking the provision on removing constitutional difficulties. Asked about their next move, Khadka said they are still holding discussions. Also, UML Spokesman Pradeep Gyawali believed that the leaders from major political parties will face a tough time from within and outside the party if the CJ-headed government fails to conduct fresh polls. “If they could create a ground for election and lead the country toward a solution, both the party rank and file and the people will soften their protests against the leaders,” said Gyawali. But some other leaders said that the second-rung leaders were dismayed as top leaders from the major political forces were “pigheadedly” working to form a CHJ-headed government against the voices of majority members in the party. A leader said, “It is worrying that the leaders showed little respect to voices in the party committees.” Asked about dissenting voices in their parties, both NC President Sushil Koirala and UML Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam said that dissent is a part and parcel of democracy. “There are always dissenting voices in the parties,” Gautam told media persons after Regmi was sworn-in at the president´s office. The growing dissent within the parties that signed the agreement and the protests in Regmi´s own fraternity indicate that holding new elections is going to be a tall order for the newly-appointed executive head and the political leaders. Moreover, other 22 political parties that stayed out of the process have already taken to the streets. Still, holding polls might be possible only if the top leaders of the major political forces manage intra-party dissents within their respective parties and extend sincere support to the technocratic government. nnnn LESS THAN 30% CAPITAL EXPENDITURE Kathmandu, 15 March: The government has spent only 26.14 percent of the total targeted capital expenditure during the first eight months of the current fiscal yea, Republica reports.. Krishna Prasad Devkota, spokesperson at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) told Republica on Thursday that capital expenditure touched Rs 13.42 billion during the review period against a target of Rs 51.34 billion set in the current ordinance budget. Similarly, regular expenditure has been recorded at Rs 130.87 billion which is 52.61 percent of the total target of Rs 246.37 billion. The government also spent Rs 11.5 billion under financial management expenditure during the period which is 21.41% of the target of Rs 53.72 billion. Out of the total budgetary allocation of Rs 351.93 billion for the current fiscal year, the government spent Rs 184.8 billion or 43.98 percent during the review period. Nnnn ________________________________________ MEDIA GOOGLE . "The election is not likely to take place in June. We wish for the election to happen on time but as the parties have already indicated that that wouldn´t be taking place by setting another date. "We have lost a complete year without a full-fledged budget n place.We fear that another year also might go by without a budget being brought on time." "I am hopeful that this government will be able to hold an election but I am not sure it will be in June." (FCCCI Chief Suraj Baidhaya, Republica, 15 March) LI NEW CHINESE PM Kathmandu, 15 March: China's legislature elected Li Keqiang as premier on Friday, installing an English-speaking bureaucrat as the man to lead the world's second-largest economy and combat pressing woes like a frothy housing market and an over-reliance on investment, Reuters writes from Beijing.. The largely rubber-stamp National People's Congress, as expected, chose premier designate Li, 57, to replace Wen Jiabao. Nearly 3,000 delegates gathered in Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People to vote on Li's appointment, putting the final stamp of approval on a generational transition of power. Xi Jinping was elected president by the legislature on Thursday. nnnn


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