Nepal Today

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

33 PARTIES CONTINUE PROTESTS Kathmandu, 4 April: Thirty-three parties, including CPB Maoist, are holding corner meetings in urban centers, including the capital, Thursday, in anti-government while opposing the second prposed constituent asebly elections as wekk. The parties are pushing for recall of the Khil Raj Regmi government with its replacement by a national consensus government eselected in a roundtable conference. The parties also oppose removal of 25 ‘obstacles’ by President Dr. Ram Baran yadav on recommendation of the previous government of Baburam Bhattarai in a mov that amended an interim constitution in the absence of parliament. The government and the president .assumed legislative powers to ‘illegally’ amending a basic law for convenience of rulers, nnnn UCPN MAOIST OPPOSE ONE PERCENT THRSHOLD PROPOSED BY ELECTION COMMISSION TO LIMIT NUMBER OF SMALL PARTIES Kathmandu, 4 April: UCPN (Maoist) has taken strong exception to the proposed provision that makes it mandatory for a political party to secure at least one percent of the total valid votes to be eligible for seats under the proportional representation electoral system, Republica reports.. UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said at a meeting of the Federal Democratic Republican Alliance (FDRA), a coalition of various political parties, on Wednesday that the provision would only complicate the election process, create anti-election environment and eventually foil the election process. Dahal said his party was against the proposed threshold for seats under proportional representation. “This is completely an anti-election provision. We are against further complicating the election process by adding new provisions because it will eventually defer the polls,” Chairman of Democratic Socialist Party Prem Bahadur Singh, who is also the spokesperson for the alliance, quoted Dahal as saying at the meeting. According to him, Dahal is for ensuring representation of more political stakeholders in the CA so that various social groups may have a say in the constitution writing process. Also, UCPN (Maoist) Spokesperson Agni Prasad Sapkota confirmed that his party is against the proposed threshold. “We are against the threshold criteria because we believe that a better constitution can be written if we can ensure representation of diverse opinions in the CA,” Sapkota told Republica. The Election Commission earlier on Monday had forwarded a draft ordinance to this effect to the government. Though the commission, in the draft ordinance, had proposed 1.5 percent votes as threshold for proportional seats, it reduced the threshold to one percent as leaders from several fringe political parties strongly protested the arrangement. The draft ordinance will come into effect as an election law after the president´s endorsement. Meanwhile, leaders from several fringe political parties submitted a memorandum to Chairman of the election government Khil Raj Regmi protesting the proposed threshold provision. Singh said Regmi assured of holding further discussions with the dissident political parties before forwarding the proposal to the president. “I am not in favor of further complicating the election process because my only focus is to conduct the polls soon,” Singh quoted Regmi as saying at the meeting with the fringe parties. Regmi has called a meeting with leaders from 33 political parties represented in the dissolved CA for Thursday. Fix poll date without delay: Dahal to govt Meanwhile, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman on Wednesday has expressed dissatisfaction with the government for the delay in fixing the date for election. He also urged the government to announce election date at the earliest. “Chairman Prachanda [Dahal] urged the government to announce election date without any delay,” said Maoist Spokesperson Agni Sapkota, saying announcement of a date would create an environment for election. Talking with Dahal, Chairman of the Interim Election Council of Ministers Regmi has informed that the government continues to be in touch with the Election Commission. “The government continues to be in touch with the Election Commission and the government is studying the legal aspects of the election,” said Bimal Gautam, press advisor to Regmi. nnnn PRESIDENT’S OFFICE SAYS PETITION AGAINST APPOINTMENT OF LOKMAN SIGH KARKI IRRELEVANT Kathmandu, 4 April 3: Responding to the Supreme Court (SC) order to furnish clarification in writing over the proposal on appointing former secretary Lokman Singh Karki as the chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), the president´s office has urged the apex court to scrap the writ petition stating that no progress has been made regarding the appointment till date, Republica reports. . In its written clarification sent to the apex court, the president´s office has stated that the writ petition is irrelevant as the president´s office safeguards and obeys the Interim Constitution and the existing laws. Similarly, CIAA, in its clarification, has stated that it does not have any role in appointment of chief commissioner and other commissioners. The constitutional anti-corruption body has urged the SC to scrap the writ petition regarding the issue stating that the chief commissioner and commissioners of the constitutional body are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council. CIAA has also maintained that it had decided on July 14, 2008 to proceed with the recommendation made by the Rayamajhi Commission to remove Karki from civil service, making him ineligible for any public post in future for his role in suppressing the peaceful democratic movement of April 2006. A single bench of Justice Sushila Karki on March 22 had ordered the government to halt the appointment process until April 7 stating that the Interim Election Council, which has been formed to hold fresh election, cannot take decision on issues that may have long-term effects. Advocate Om Prakash Aryal on March 20 had moved the apex court challenging the government´s preparations to appoint Karki as the chief of the anti-corruption body. In the petition, Aryal has stated that the recommendation of the High-Level Political Committee to appoint Karki as head of CIAA is against constitutional provisions and the spirit of the people´s movement, rule of law, good governance, transparency, accountability and the principle of constitutional checks and balances. The writ petitioner has claimed that Karki is not eligible for the post as he was involved in suppression of the peaceful democratic movement of April 2006. The Office of the President, Chairman of Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi and his office, Constitutional Council, the CIAA, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Karki have been made defendants in the writ petition. nnnn 53 KILLED IN TALIBAN COURT ATTACK Kathmandu, 4 April: Insurgents wearing Afghan army uniforms launched a suicide attack and stormed a courthouse Wednesday in a failed bid to free Taliban inmates, killing at least 44 people, half of them shot in the basement. Nine attackers were killed, AP reports from Kabul.. The attack — one of the deadliest in the more than 11-year-old war — began about 8:30 a.m. when nine men wearing suicide vests drove into the capital of Farah province in western Afghanistan, evading checkpoints by using army vehicles, according to the provincial police chief. The standoff ended some eight hours later when the last gunman was killed. Insurgents have stepped up assaults targeting the Farah provincial government in recent months as they vie for control of an area bordering Iran to the west and Helmand province to the east. Farah has become increasingly volatile as the site of a growing drug trade after military offensives in neighboring areas. "The Taliban seem to be exploiting the opium harvest and the unpopular eradication efforts by the government to further establish their presence," Fabrizio Foschini, of the independent research group Afghan Analysts Network, said in a recent blog. Militants have staged high-profile complex attacks across Afghanistan in a bid to show their strength and undermine confidence in the central government. Wednesday´s assault was among the most brutal for civilians, raising fears of deteriorating security as international combat forces withdraw by the end of 2014 and hand over control to Afghan security forces. The attack began when two assailants blew themselves up inside one of the vehicles while the others jumped out and ran toward the courthouse and prosecutor´s office, provincial police chief Agha Noor Kemtoz said. Guards opened fire, killing one of the attackers, as the others engaged in a fierce gunbattle that left civil servants and government officials holed up in their offices. Other civilians fled to the basement of the courthouse, where gunmen found them and killed 21 people, officials said. Kemtoz said the attack aimed to free more than a dozen Taliban prisoners who were being transferred to the courthouse for trial, which had not yet started. "Definitely the plan was to free the prisoners with this attack, but thank God, they did not succeed," he said. "All the prisoners are accounted for." Deputy provincial governor Yonus Rasouli, however, said one of the inmates had escaped. He said the suspects had been arrested in different places and faced a range of charges, including planting roadside bombs. Provincial Gov. Akram Akhpewak said those killed included 34 civilians, including judges and prosecutors, 10 members of the security forces and the nine attackers. Dr. Abdul Hakim Rasouli, chief of the Farah hospital, said 80 people also were wounded. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent to reporters, although some witnesses questioned whether the assailants were Afghans. Provincial lawmaker Humaira Ayobi said a recent police operation targeting the drug trade may have been a factor in the audacious attack. It was the deadliest strike since Oct. 26, when a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a mosque packed with senior regional officials in the northern Afghan province of Faryab, killing 41 people on a major Muslim holiday. In Kabul, meanwhile, Afghanistan´s intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid returned to Kabul on Wednesday nearly four months after he was seriously wounded by a Taliban suicide bomber posing as a messenger of peace. Billboards in the capital welcomed home the director of the National Directorate of Security, saying he has fully recovered and "is ready to continue his duty to provide peace, security and prosperity to his homeland." In other violence, Taliban gunmen attacked a local police patrol late Tuesday in southeastern Paktika province and six insurgents were killed in the fighting, according to a statement from the governor´s office. A roadside bomb then struck a police vehicle as it was leaving the area, killing four police, it said. Four police officers also were killed and one was wounded Tuesday when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in northeastern Kunar province during an operation to clear the area of explosives, government spokesman Wasifullah Wasifi said. nnnn


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