Nepal Today

Thursday, August 15, 2013



Kathmandu, 16 Aug.: After seven hour-long talks, the High-Level-Political Committee (HLPC) finally reached a six-point agreement with the Upendra Yadav-led Federal Democratic Front (FDF) on Thursday midnight, RSS reportsss..

With the agreement, the agitating front will participate in the November 19 Constituent Assembly (CA) elections.

As per the agreement, the number of the CA would be 585 where there will be 240 under the first-past-the-post system while 335 under the proportional one and 10 to be elected from the Council of Ministers.

For the implementation of this agreement, the President and government will be requested for constitutional and legal arrangements.

Earlier, the four major political parties- UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) had decided to reduce the number of CA members from 601 to 491. And the Election Commission (EC) had started electoral process accordingly.

Similarly, the EC will be requested to extend two more weeks for updating voter registration and homework on the agreement on basic principles of constitution initiated.

As per the agreement, the federal democratic front will join the HLPC; efforts will be made to include other important political parties in it and urge all people to make the CA elections successful.

However, the parties have agreed to keep intact the previous 240 constituencies and their delimitation.

UCPN-Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha signed in the agreement from the HLPC's side while Parshuram Tamang on behalf of federal democratic front.

The six-point agreement, the leaders said, would be a milestone for the success of the CA elections.

The talks were attended by HLPC coordinator and UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML's Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, UDMF coordinator Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar and Chairman of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Nepal, Upendra Yadav and others.


Kathmandu, 16 Aug : Devotees have started arriving here for the
Gosainkunda religious fair that takes place at local Gosainkunda on the occasion of the Janai
Poornima festival, rSS reports from Dhunche..

Sanjeev DM, President of the Gosainkunda Fair Management Committee, said that the pilgrims started arriving from the day of the Nagpanchami festival last week. Gosainkunda lies high up in the mountains in Rasuwa district and this place is a famous pilgrimage for the Hindus and Buddhists.

He said as many as one thousand people have arrived for the religious fair as of Thursday evening. It is estimated that 15 thousand pilgrims will attend the religious fair this year. The Janai Poornima festival falls on August 21 this year.

The management committee is making preparations for the festival. In this connection, more than 100 temporary lodges have been constructed at different places en route to Goasainkunda, in addition to the already existing motels and lodges.

Similarly, the District Administration Office has made arrangements for the security of the pilgrims and for setting up temporary clinics.


Kathmandu, 16 Aug.: Deeply polarized Egypt braced for renewed confrontation on Friday after the Muslim Brotherhood called for a nationwide march of millions to show anger at a ferocious security crackdown on Islamists in which
hundreds were killed, Reuters reports from Cairo..

Defying criticism from major Western allies, Egypt's army-backed government warned it would turn its guns on anyone who attacked the police or public institutions after protesters torched a government building in Cairo on Thursday.

At least 623 people died and thousands were wounded on Wednesday when police cleared out two protest camps in Cairo set up to denounce the military overthrow on July 3 of Egypt's first freely elected president, Islamist leader Mohamed Mursi.

It was the third mass killing of Mursi supporters since his ouster. The assault left his Muslim Brotherhood in disarray, but they warned they would not retreat in their showdown with army commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

"After the blows and arrests and killings that we are facing, emotions are too high to be guided by anyone," said Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad.

A statement from the Brotherhood called for a nationwide "march of anger" by millions of supporters on Friday after noon prayers.

"Despite the pain and sorrow over the loss of our martyrs, the latest coup makers' crime has increased our determination to end them," it said.

The Brotherhood accuses the military of staging a coup when it ousted Mursi. Liberal and youth activists who backed the military saw the move as a positive response to public demands.

Friday prayers have proved a fertile time for protests during more than two years of unrest across the Arab world.

In calling for a "Friday of anger," the Brotherhood used the same name as that given to the most violent day of the 2011 uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. That day, January 28, 2011, marked the protesters' victory over the police, who were forced to retreat while the army was asked to step in.

In a counter move, a loose liberal and leftist coalition, the National Salvation Front, called on Egyptians to protest on Friday against what it said was "obvious terrorism actions" conducted by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Signaling his displeasure at the worst bloodshed in Egypt for generations, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday normal cooperation with Cairo could not continue and announced the cancellation of military exercises with Egypt next month.

"We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest," he said, taking a brief break from his holidays to deliver the sharp rebuke.

The United States on Thursday renewed a warning to its citizens to leave Egypt because of the ongoing unrest. It issued the same advice last month.

The Egyptian presidency issued a statement saying Obama's remarks were not based on "facts" and would strengthen and encourage violent groups that were committing "terrorist acts."


Washington provides Egypt with $1.5 billion in annual aid, most of it military. But its influence over Cairo has been called into question during the recent turmoil, which has seen Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates pledge $12 billion in assistance, making them more prominent partners.

By cancelling the military exercise, but not cutting off U.S. aid, Obama was seeking to show his displeasure at the violent crackdown without totally alienating the generals.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a statement saying he had called Sisi on Thursday to say Washington would maintain its military relationship with Egypt, but he also warned him that the recent violence was putting defense cooperation at risk.

"Since the recent crisis began, the United States has made it clear that the Egyptian government must refrain from violence, respect freedom of assembly, and move toward an inclusive political transition," Hagel said.

"I reiterated that the United States remains ready to work with all parties to help achieve a peaceful, inclusive way forward."

The White House has tried to appear to support democracy in Egypt, while protecting the U.S. strategic interest in Egypt's stability, its peace treaty with Israel and its military cooperation with the United States - including privileged access to the Suez Canal.

Critics argue that Obama had done too little, too late and that his administration has repeatedly sent mixed messages - among them its failure to brand Mursi's ouster a military coup - thereby eroding its ability to influence events.

By comparison with Western criticism, the UAE said Egypt's government had "exercised maximum self-control."

The Arab nations' cash, which started arriving in July, is aimed at stabilizing Egypt's wobbling economy, which is suffering from a ballooning budget deficit and high inflation.

This week's carnage will do further damage to state coffers. The government has set a nighttime curfew that it says will last at least a month, a move that will deal a further blow to the crucial tourism industry.

On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council urged all parties in Egypt to exercise maximum restraint.

"The view of council members is that it is important to end violence in Egypt," Argentine U.N. Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval told reporters after the 15-member council met on the situation.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had earlier also called for the U.N. Security Council to convene quickly after what he described as a massacre in Egypt and criticized Western nations for failing to stop the bloodshed.

The streets of Cairo were unusually quiet on Thursday, many shops remaining shuttered as people stayed away from work.

However, there was little sympathy for the Brotherhood, which won all five elections following Mubarak's downfall in 2011 but was accused of incompetence and partisanship during Mursi's brief time in charge.

"We didn't want this to happen, but at the end of the day they pushed us to do it," said Mahmoud Albaz, 33, an actor and real-estate agent who lives near the Brotherhood protest camp at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, now blackened by fire and soot.

Many of those who died on Wednesday were still laid out more than a day later in Cairo morgues and at a city mosque. Their families accused the government of putting bureaucratic hurdles in their way to make it hard to obtain permission to bury them.

Under Islamic tradition, bodies ought to be buried within 24 hours of death.

"We arrived at 7 a.m. The whole family is here," said Atif Hashim, a 50-year-old teacher, who was in line, waiting to collect the body of his cousin, a father of five young children.

"They just drink tea inside, they just throw the bodies on the floor with some ice," he said of officials in the morgue.


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