Nepal Today

Saturday, May 4, 2013

NEPAL QUALIFIES FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS Kathmandu, 5 May:: Nepal have leapfrogged USA to earn a place in the World Cup Qualifiers after a dramatic day at the World Cricket League Division 3 Tournamentm ESPN Cricinfo writes from Bermuda. It was a plausible, but unlikely, scenario at the start of the day with Nepal needing to thrash Italy then hope that Bermuda overcame USA. In the end, that is exactly what happened. Nepal raced to victory with a massive 211 deliveries to spare which gave their net run-rate the surge required to keep their hopes alive. Tight bowling had restricted Italy to 127 for 9 and then Nepal's openers - Subash Khakurel and Pradeep Airee - added 87 in 12 overs to speed them on their way before captain Paras Khadka provided the finishing touches with 22 off eight deliveries. Still, however, Nepal needed a favour from Bermuda who, by now, had no chance of progressing. Ultimately, Bermuda cruised home with more than five overs to spare, but it will have been an agonising few hours for Nepal. They impressively knocked off 221 led by their captain, Chris Douglas, who made 89 off 75 balls. He may now find himself being offered the freedom of Kathmandu. Nepal will now join Uganda, who had already qualified top of the group, at next year's World Cup Qualifiers to compete for a chance to play at the main event in Australia and New Zealand during early 2015. -- ESPN Cricinfo nnnn NEPAL PLAYS QATAR Kathmandu, 5 May: Nepal plays Qatar Sunday in its second outing in the ACC U-19 Elite in Kuala Lumpur. Nepal defeated Kuwait by 84 runs in its first match. nnnn. RESIGNATION OF REGMI CJ WILL DIM PROPOECT OF DEC. POLL Kathmandu, 5 May : Whether or not Chairman of the Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi should resign from the post of chief justice has become a matter of political debate these days, Kosh Raj Koirala writes in Republica.. While a section of political leaders have argued that Regmi should immediately step down as head of the judiciary to appease the agitating parties and pave the way for polls within the stipulated timeframe, a majority of other political leaders are against the idea. On Friday, senior CPN-UML leader and former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal argued that Regmi would do well to step down as chief justice to create an environment for polls. Addressing the 11th convention of Nepal National Teachers Organization in Kathmandu, Nepal said many controversies surrounding fresh elections would be resolved once Regmi steps down. Echoing UML leader Nepal, Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chairman Pashupati SJB Rana has also been demanding at various public functions that Regmi resign from the post of chief justice in order to bring the agitating parties on board the election process. Nepal and Rana are among several other leaders who have stood in favor of Regmi resigning from the post of chief justice to ensure the separation of powers. But the question arises: Is that so easy from a constitutional point of view? And also there are lingering doubts: Will the agitating parties, including the alliance headed by Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist, really choose to be part of the election process once Regmi is made to resign as head of the judiciary? Constitutionally speaking, Regmi´s resignation is easier said than done. If the parties really want him to step down as chief justice, they should all be prepared to strike a fresh deal beforehand. In point 1.4.1 of the 11-point political agreement reached among the four major political forces--UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front -- on March 13, there is agreement that the incumbent chief justice of the Supreme Court would head the interim council of ministers to be formed for holding the fresh constituent assembly (CA) elections. Since the 11-point political deal subsequently became part of the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 through an ordinance for removing constitutional difficulties, the parties will face two remaining choices: either reach a fresh political deal on the head of the interim poll government and recommend to the president to amend the statute, or accept current Acting Chief Justice Damodar Prasad Sharma, who will become chief justice once Regmi steps down, as new head of the Interim Election Council. All this will turn out to be nothing but opening a Pandora´s box for the parties that took almost 10 months to reach the 11-point deal and break the political deadlock that ensued after the dissolution of the CA on May 27, 2012 without promulgating a new statute. If the parties agree to amend the term ´incumbent chief justice´ to ´former chief justice´, for instance, there may still be unnecessary debate on picking a name from among the nearly one dozen surviving former chief justices to head the poll government. This will only jeopardize the prospects of holding the poll by mid-December, as agreed among the four major political forces. Secondly, there are enough grounds to be skeptic whether the agitating political parties will join the election process once Regmi steps down as chief justice. “I really have doubts over Baidyaji participating in the election process even if Regmi steps down as chief justice. Resignation by Regmi will only complicate the situation,” argued Nepali Congress leader Dr Ram Sharan Mahat. Dr Mahat said the parties should instead agree to expedite election preparations and hold the poll within the stipulated timeframe if they want to see Regmi not wearing two hats. “Why not we create an environment for holding the poll at the earliest? Regmi will automatically be relieved of the post of executive head once elections are held,” he added. Nnnn WEST SETI IN LIMBO Kathmandu, 5 May: China Three Gorges Corporation, a Chinese power developer involved in development of much-delayed 750-megawatt West Seti hydropower project, has maintained conspicuous silence on development of the project in the last six months, Bhoj Raj Piudel writes in Republica.. "No communication has been held with the developer since last October," a source privy to the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) told Republica. The corporation had dispatched a team of experts to conduct preliminary study of the project site last October. At that time, the team had promised to discuss future plans within next couple of months. "It has not shown much interest in the project since then," the source disclosed. "IBN officials claim they had video conference with corporation officials but since nothing has materialized in more than six months we have no grounds to believe the conference--if it was ever held--was fruitful.” The IBN that received authority to facilitate project implementation from the government also confirmed that it has not heard from the corporation. "We are waiting for their response," Radhesh Pant, chief executive officer of the IBN, told Republica over the phone on Saturday. "We are hopeful they will soon communicate and come up with a financial report." The 18-year-old project has always made locals dream of a prosperous far western region--where the project is located. But the latest development has disappointed them as the project seems to be falling in a limbo even after the government established a separate high-level entity, IBN, to fast track the implementation of the mega project. "No one has shared any information about the project since last year," Ratan Saud, president of West Seti Concern Group, a pressure group formed by locals, told Republica. "We are now worried about the future of the project." Officials at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) also expressed pessimism about development of the project in the near future. "China is in the wait-and-see mood to make investment in Nepal as the country is going through a transitional phase," a high-ranking OPMCM official said requesting anonymity. "It had expressed enthusiasm to invest before May 2012--before the demise of the Constitution Assembly on May 27. The Chinese developer´s mood has changed since then and is not that interested in project implementation." Earlier, China´s Exim Bank had expressed interested to finance the project and had proposed Nepal to take commercial loans. West Seti is one of the priority projects of the government. Through this project, the government aims to supply up to 150 MW of electricity in the western industrial corridor, while the remaining power would be used to fulfill domestic power demand. Nnnn CPN MAOISTS REJECT TALKS Kathmandu, 5 May: CPN-Maoist, which has been opposing Constituent Assembly elections, has upped the ante against the government and the four forces saying it will not sit for talks either with the government, High Level Political Committee, or the president, The Himalayan Times reports.. CPN-M Chairman Mohan Baidhya today said his party would not sit for talks with the government or HLPC until the government addressed the party’s demands. Addressing an interaction here today, Baidhya said repeal of the 25-point presidential order was a precondition for dialogue with the government. “The HLPC has no legal status. Government ministers have themselves said they will not obey the four-party mechanism. We want dissolution of this government, so we will not hold talks with it,” Baidhya added. He, however, said his party was ready to hold informal talks with the president. Baidhya gave the thumbs down to UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s proposal to form alliance with his party. “Alliance with the UCPN-M is not possible,” Baidhya clarified. Only today, UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had said at a public programme that he was open to forging poll alliance with the CPN-M. Meanwhile, the political front of 33 parties led by the CPN-M, also demanded that the 25-point presidential decree be scrapped. “Unless the presidential decree is repealed, national consensus cannot be forged,” read a press release issued by the agitating parties. These parties had held a meeting today at the CPN-M headquarters before issuing the release. “The presidential decree issued on the basis of the four-party’s decisions impinges upon national independence,” the release added. The agitating parties have sought dissolution of the HLPC and repeal of the presidential order. They have demanded that the government immediately halt ‘repressive measures’ against their party cadres. The agitating parties have also sought release of their activists. Pasang Sherpa, member of the presidium of the Social Democratic Party said the government resorted to repression against the cadres of Federal Limbuwan State Council in Dhankuta and if it did not desist from such measures, the alliance of the 33 parties would intensify its stir. The alliance will sit again on Monday to devise its future strategies. “We are of the view that pressure tactics and movements are necessary to force the government to come to a compromise,” Sherpa said. Nnnn UCPN MAOIST IRKED BY CHANGED UML STANCE Kathmandu, 5 May:: The CPN-UML’s change of stance on Lokman Singh Karki’s appointment as chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) — after recommending the same from the High Level Political Committee — has vexed the Unified CPN-Maoist, The Himalayan Times writes. The UCPN-M dissatisfaction with UML came a day before a meeting of the Constitutional Council, scheduled for tomorrow, which Chairperson of the Interim Election Council Khil Raj Regmi had called, after the Supreme Court ruled that the issue of Karki’s appointment fell under the Constitutional Council’s jurisdiction. “The decision was taken with the consent of all four parties, so there is no need to pick a dispute over that now,” UCPN-M spokesperson Agni Sapkota told THT. About a month ago, the HLPC had recommended appointment of Bhanubhakta Acharya, an NC loyal, to the Office of Auditor General, Kayodevi Yami, a UCPN-M loyal, to the Public Service Commission and former chief secretary Lokman Singh Karki as CIAA chief commissioner. Among those recommended, Neel Kantha Uprety and other commissioners from the UML have been appointed. “In fact, the present aboutface of UML leaders, including its chairperson, must have to do with pressure from someone else,” argued UCPN-M Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal, adding that UML and NC had been very keen about Karki’s recommendation earlier. “Back then, these parties were so insistent on elevating Karki, now under what pressure they have changed their mood, I don’t know,” said the UPCN-M boss, speaking to journalists in Simara Airport today. “Though the recommendation was unanimous, it was a decision of the four parties, rumours are now being spread giving people the impression that only I had pushed hard for Karki's appointment in the anti-graft body. Earlier, following the committee's recommendation UML leaders had criticised the party for being a party to the recommendation. A UML politburo meeting held on April 16 had also decided to urge the government and the committee to take back the recommendation elevating Karki as CIAA chief. UML vicechairperson Bamdev Gautam had also expressed his note of dissent over the party's in volvement in the recommen dation. He, however, tried to defend the recommendation, saying was a signatory to the agreement of the HLPC, it could not backtrack as the par ty would lose its credibility among people. He had also cit, ed lack of evidence against Karki. According to a source, UMLspeak against Karki’s appointment as CIAA chief is only for public consumption, it actually doesn’t want the appointment scuttled. Gautam told THT he had expressed his view that UML should not backtrack on the recommendation now. Nepali Congress leader Ram Sharan Mahat, on his part, argued that the issue of whether or not to accept Karki’s appointment as CIAA chief should be left to the government and the Constitutional Council to decide as political parties had already agreed, and then forwarded to the government. “Political parties have already taken decision on this issue. So accepting or rejecting the appointment is now in the hands of the constitutional council and the government,” Mahat said at a press meet in Taplejung today. Karki’s appointment as CIAA chief became controversial after Advocate Om Prakash Aryal filed a writ demanding that the appointment be scrapped as the Rayamajhi Commission had found him guilty of suppressing the People’s Movement and had also recommended action against him. The lawyers who had earlier argued against the Rayamajhi commission to defend the promotion of Armed Police Force officer Durja Kumar Rai and others have shown double standard by defending the commission in Karki’s case. The dispute had ended after apex court ruled that the court could not interfere with matters that fell under the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Council. Nnnn TOURIST ARRIVLS CONTINUE TO DIP Kathmandu, 5 May: Tourist arrivals via air fell 8.9 percent to 54,119 in April. This is the third monthly drop in the first four months of 2013, The Kathmandu Post writes. . Travel trade entrepreneurs said growth was likely to be slow in May too due to fewer inquiries from the Indian market. However, they expect a recovery from June when the Indian holiday season begins. India accounts for more than 27 percent of the total arrivals to Nepal and is its largest source market. The statistics release by the Immigration Office shows that arrivals from the Indian market dropped a significant 25.3 percent in April. In the first four months of 2013, arrivals from India plunged 27.6 percent to 38,869. “This season has not been busy so far for the Nepali hospitality industry like last year,” said Bharat Joshi, resident manager at the Hotel Yak & Yeti. The March-June season had attracted a large number of holidaymakers from India last year, but surprisingly their movement in Nepal has been falling, he added. Travel trade entrepreneurs said that Indian tourists had been shifting to Southeast Asian destinations due to their attractive and affordable travel packages. For example, visiting Thailand costs only Rs 15,000 more than Nepal for Indian tourists, said a travel trade entrepreneur. In addition, weaker performance by European markets has also pulled down the overall market growth affecting hotel occupancy. Joshi said his hotel recorded only 82 percent occupancy in April, a slight drop compared to the same period last year. “And reservations for May have reached 40 percent so far compared to 54 percent in the same period last year,” Joshi added. However, arrivals from India are likely to pick up from June when a large number of pilgrims from India travel to Kailash Manasarovar. Aditya Baral, spokesperson of the Nepal Tourism Board, described the drop in tourist numbers as a seasonal impact. Normally, foreign airlines reduce their flight frequency and aircraft size during the January-April period, and the impact is seen in inbound. “As Nepal’s tourism is totally dependent on foreign carriers, a reduction in their frequency means a drop in arrivals.” Baral said that airlines raise their frequency from June when the Indian holiday season begins. “In addition, there are no extra promotional programmes in India besides the regular promotional activities.” Despite a decline in arrivals from India, tourism entrepreneurs said that Chinese arrivals had kept the industry busy. Visitor arrivals from China, one of the fastest growing tourist markets for Nepal, recorded a growth of 26.6 percent. In April, arrivals from the Saarc segment dropped 21.6 percent compared to the same month last year. Arrivals from Pakistan and Sri Lanka have witnessed negative growth of 10.9 percent and 3 percent respectively. However, arrivals from Bangladesh grew 16.6 percent. Arrivals from Asia (other than South Asia) recorded a growth of 18.1 percent in aggregate. Similarly, Malaysia (158.3 percent) and Thailand (15.3 percent) have maintained an upward trend. However, arrivals from Japan (9.6 percent), South Korea (5.8 percent) and Singapore (4.5 percent) have witnessed negative growth. Arrivals from France, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and Sweden have registered growths of 0.4 percent, 9.9 percent, 7.6 percent, 1.1 percent and 20.7 percent respectively. But arrivals from the UK, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Russia declined 14.8 percent, 23.1 percent, 49.2 percent, 22.8 percent, 29.5 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Likewise, arrivals from Australia, New Zealand and the US also posted growths of 6.7 percent, 5.2 percent and 2.3 percent respectively. Canada showed a decrease in arrivals by 35 percent. nnnn


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