Nepal Today

Saturday, May 11, 2013

MAHAT BLASTS MAOISTS Kathmandu, 12 May:: Nepali Congress leader Ram Sharan Mahat has accused the UCPN-Maoist and the CPN-Maoist of still engaging in extreme leftist activities. At a greeting-exchange programme that the Nepali Congress Jorpati Village Working Committee had organised on Saturday, RSS reports from Sundarijal. Mahat said Nepali politics has become immoral unlike in the times of BP Koirala. Mahat further said appointing Lokman Singh Karki as chief commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority was wrong. Central committee member of the party, Dhanraj Gurung, said the NC will accept a model of federalism that stresses democratic republic and a common identity. Congress leader Chakra Bahadur Thakuri said the country will get the constitution only if his party gets a two-third majority in the Constituent Assembly elections. nnnn LEADERS SHAREPLY DIVIDED ON ISSUES Lathmandu, 12 May : Political leaders are sharply divided over the proposal on downsizing the number of Constituent Assembly (CA) members from 601 to 491. Republica writes.. At a function organized by Nepal Madhes Foundation in the capital on Saturday, leaders of CPN-UML and Nepali Congress (NC) stood in favor of the proposal while Madhesi leaders and activists termed the proposal a conspiracy to thwart issues of Madhesi, indigenous, Dalit, and other marginalized groups. CPN-UML leader Agni Kharel stated that the decision on downsizing the CA was taken in accordance with the people´s aspirations. “The erstwhile CA was fiercely criticized as it was not representative of our geography and population,” Kharel added. He also maintained that the proposed one percent threshold for seats under proportional electoral system will encourage political parties with same ideologies to come together. Central committee member of Nepali Congress (NC) Minendra Rijal accused some political parties of opposing the threshold provision for fear that they would lose the election. He stated that election constituencies should be delineated on the basis of population and geography. Chairman of National Madhes Socialist Party (NMSP) Sharat Singh Bhandari ruled out the possibility of holding fresh election until the issue of percentage of seats under first-past-the-post (FPTP) and proportional electoral system is settled. “Who gave them [NC, CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist) and the United Democratic Madhesi Front] the right to reduce seats under proportional electoral system,” questioned Bhandari. Former minister Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta maintained that the decision on threshold was taken with an “ill-intention”. He stressed the need for overall review of delineation of election constituencies. Professor Krishna Hachhethu claimed that new CA will be more regressive and “status-quo-ist” than the erstwhile CA. “Federalism cannot be institutionalized until a new political emerges through a movement in the country,” he added. Nnnn HLPC LOSING RELEVANCE CONCLUDES UML Kathmandu, 12 May: At a time when various political parties have been demanding the dissolution of the High Level Political Committee (HLPC), one of the constituent parties of that very body has questioned the continued relevance of the Committeem Republica reports.. The CPN-UML, at its central committee meeting that concluded on Friday, drew the conclusion that the HLPC has been losing its relevance in particular after its move to recommend Lok Man Singh Karki as head of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA). CPN-UML leaders argued that the HLPC has come under question as it did not review its decision on Karki even after two of its four constituent parties repeatedly demanded such a revision. "The HLPC´s procedural rules clearly state that every decision to be taken by the body will be taken in consensus," CPN-UML Spokesman Pradeep Gyawali explained at a press meet at party headquarters, Balkhu on Saturday, responding to a query as to why the party raised such a question. "But on the Karki row the body didn´t review its decision even after strong objections from two major political parties -- CPN-UML and Nepali Congress." NC President Sushil Koirala and CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, who represent their respective parties in the HLPC, had initially agreed to Karki´s name, but they later backed out in the face of strong objections from within and outside their parties. "It is already public knowledge that our party realized its leadership had at first committed a mistake but later it had decided institutionally to correct the mistake and accordingly drew the attention of the HLPC, the chairman of the interim election council and the president," said a statement read out by Gyawali in the presence of Khanal and other top leaders. "Therefore, our party denounced the decision taken to appoint Karki despite strong objections from our party, civil society and other political parties." While conceding that he and Koirala had initially agreed to Karki´s name, Khanal explained that their efforts subsequently to correct it were futile. "We had been pushing for a correction and the issue was under discussion, but in the meantime Karki was sworn in all of a sudden." The party also concluded that the country´s national interests had come under serious threat, so much so that it had now reached alarming proportions. "There were weaknesses we couldn´t sense and we couldn´t foil various designs by foreign forces over various crucial issues ranging from dissolution of the constituent assembly to the appointment of Karki as CIAA head," said the statement. "The central committee meeting has realized that it is time for introspection on such weaknesses." The party also criticized the government for failing to make satisfactory progress in connection with preparations for elections even though the parties had agreed to form a technocratic government under the chief justice despite strong protests. The UML has reiterated that the proposed provisions on one-percent threshold for proportional representation seats in the new constituent assembly and on setting conditions for filing candidacy should be introduced during the coming elections. Nnnn NO CHANCE FOR NEPAL TO HOLD SAARC SUMMIT Kathmandu, 12 May:: With the delay in convening the SAARC Inter-summit — a foreign ministerial meeting of member states of the regional bloc — the possibility of Nepal hosting the 18th SAARC Summit by the end of this year has become very bleak, Lekhnath Pandey writes in The Himalayan Times.. Nepal has said it needs at least nine months to prepare for the regional summit once the date is fixed. Even the date of the Inter-summit that decides the date, venue, theme and agenda for the upcoming summit is yet to be fixed. “We need nine months’ preparatory time to host the summit,” said Arjun Bahadur Thapa, spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). “Unfortunately, even the date of the ministerial meeting is yet to be fixed.” During the 17th SAARC Summit held in Addu City in Maldives in November 2011, Nepal had proposed it would host the next summit in Kathmandu by early 2013. However, the government later informally shared its inability to host the summit before October 2013, following the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in May 2012. The date for fresh CA election was announced for November 2012, which was later deferred. Nepal’s political transition is not the sole factor delaying the summit though. It’s rather the consequence of weakness on the part of all member states as they were not able to convene the foreign ministers’ meeting on time. Only the meeting of foreign ministers — also known as Council of Ministers — decides the details of the new Summit. As incumbent chair of SAARC, Maldives had proposed the first week of July for the meeting of SAARC foreign ministers. However, the proposed date is still being negotiated among member states — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Even a single member-state’s reluctance‚ refusal or inability can lead to rescheduling of the regional gathering. Earlier, Maldives had proposed as many as half-a-dozen dates for the ministerial meet, but none of them was convenient for one or the other member-state. Thapa said if the ministerial meet does not take place in July, then it would not be possible before December. According to him, Maldives has informed that it would not able to organise the Inter-summit until November, given the Ramadan — the Muslim holy month starting on July 9 and its own general election due in September, among others. During Ramadan, Muslims do not work for one month. “Even if the inter-summit takes place in July, Nepal cannot organise the Summit by the end of this year because of limited time for preparations,” said a senior government official. Maldives has been hosting various regional meetings and programmes in is capacity of SAARC Chair since it successfully hosted the 17th Summit in November, 2011. However, as the smallest member state in terms of territory, economy and population, it has also been feeling the burden because of the delay in handing over the chair’s responsibility to Nepal, say MoFA officials. Earlier, at an informal discussion, SAARC Secretary General Ahmed Saleem, who is also from Maldives, had said it is the common responsibility of all member states to make SAARC a vibrant organisation by convening all meetings of the SAARC mechanisms regularly. Nishchal Nath Pandey, Director, Centre for South Asian Studies, says dilly-dallying in convening regional meetings regularly has spoiled SAARC’s image and it is perceived as a non-functional regional bloc. Although the SAARC Charter states that Head of States/Governments “shall meet once a year or more often as and when considered necessary”, only 17 such meetings have been held so far since the body’s inception in December 1985. Nnnn MIGRANT WORKERS SEEK REFORMS FOR SAFETY Kathmandu, 12 May:: Activists across the country working for safe migration have suggested a 28-point reform agenda to the government. We have decided to pressure the government to implement the reform plan, said Dr Ganesh Gurung, joint coordinator of the National Conference on Migration being held in Kathmandu, on May 10-11, The Himalayan Times reports. .“The points cover possible intervention in migration in the entire cycle from pre-departure to reintegration of returnees,” he said, explaining the outcome of the conference. According to him, non-governmental organisations working for safe migration have decided to monitor the reform programmes and present it in the next conference that will be held in 2016. Civil society will actively watch the enforcement of the reforms, Gurung added. The conference has identified migration as an integral part of the Nepali economy and society, and demanded an option to foreign employment. Therefore, the conference has put creation of jobs in the country in the first priority, followed by training and orientation to foreign job aspirants. “These are the prerequisites for safe migration as a whole,” said former labour attaché to Saudi Arabia Chandeshwor Acharya. Similarly, the civil society has also asked the government to strengthen monitoring of outsourcing agencies, orientation centres and medical centres. Weak monitoring of the agencies has been fuelling fraud in the outsourcing sector. More than 2,000 unregistered agents have been actively involved in migration but only 300 are registered. The nexus of human traffickers has been working under the shadow of foreign employment. Thus, everyday 30-40 Nepali women reach Gulf countries — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. Most of them go via India due to the porous border between Nepal and India. Less than 40 per cent of about 1,200 migrant workers who join foreign jobs everyday get complete foreign job orientation. Other migrant workers reach the job markets without complete information on the job, language, culture and daily life of the destination countries. Everyday, 100-150 Nepali migrant workers face problems like being cheated regarding salary, insurance and other benefits in foreign lands. Moreover, 50-60 migrant workers run away from their workplace due to abuse and exploitation and their status becomes illegal. The conference has identified all problems and suggested practical measures to tackle them, said Gurung, adding that the conference has also provided a suggestion to explore characteristics of trafficking in foreign employment. The conference has also asked the government to start employment and self-reliant programmes targeting victims of foreign employment. Major suggestions • Create job opportunities in the country • Skills and language training mandatory for migrant workers • Honour returning migrants at the airport • Integration programmes for returnees • Study of sudden death of migrants while sleeping • Introduce strong monitoring mechanism at the Department of Foreign Employment to check malpractices • Stop human trafficking/smuggling in the name of foreign employment nnnn


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