Nepal : China cuts down India's Influence

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by Singh, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

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    India to resume military cooperation with Nepal
    PTI
    Monday, December 7, 2009 13:16 IST

    Kathmandu: India has agreed to resume military cooperation with Nepal, which was suspended following the 2005 takeover of power by former King Gyanendra, besides providing training to Nepalese security personnel as part of efforts to step up defence cooperation.

    Nepal and India also agreed to share intelligence and to cooperate on constructing an airbase for the Nepalese army in the western part of the country, at the three-day joint-secretary level meeting that concluded here yesterday.

    During the meeting, India agreed in principle, to resume non-lethal military supplies to Nepal as per her request, a defence ministry official said. India had suspended military cooperation after former King Gyanendra assumed absolute power and dissolved the multi-party government in February 2005.


    During the Nepal-India Bilateral Consultative Group meeting held at the defence ministry here, the Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary at the ministry of external affairs, Satish Mehata, while Nepal's delegation was led by his Nepalese counterpart Arun Prasad Dhital.

    India also agreed to provide training to Nepalese security personnel to upgrade their capabilities and to share intelligence for improving security, the official said.

    The delegations discussed the matters of mutual interest and agreed on cooperation to construct a Nepal Army airbase in Surkhet in western Nepal, a foreign ministry statement said.

    The Indian delegation also paid a courtesy call on deputy prime minister and foreign minister Sujata Koirala, defence minister Vidya Bhandari and Nepal army chief Chhatra Man Gurung.
     
  2. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    China to train Nepal Army; pledges Rs 220 mn military aid

    China to train Nepal Army; pledges Rs 220 mn military aid

    Just two days after President Pratibha Patil conferred the rank of “Honorary General” on the Chief of Nepal Army General Chhatraman Singh Gurung, India’s move of rolling out red carpet for Nepal has been somewhat upstaged by China’s latest strategic move. Reports from Kathmandu today said China would train the Nepalese Army and it has also pledged Rs 220 million as military assistance for procuring “non lethal” hardware and logistics to Nepal. This comes even as General Gurung is on eight-day visit to India. He has met the top brass including the Defence Minister AK Antony seeking cooperation. He has also sought for tanks, an airstrip and recruitment of Gurkhas to be conducted by the Indian Army in Nepalese soil.

    A Chinese military delegation led by Maj Gen Jia Jialing has met Nepal Defence Minister Vidya Bhandari, after which it has emerged that China and India are now locked in fight over “helping Nepal”. Notably, Indian Intelligence agencies had warned a fortnight ago about the impending meeting and the probability of some “big announcement” coming at the end of this. With its latest move China has managed to build a “relationship” with yet another nation that borders India. A senior China watcher pointed out that it was Nepal, sandwiched between India and China, which was playing on nerves of two powers and playing a balancing act. For China, it is a major score to further its military policy of surrounding India with what it calls the theory of “string of pearls”.

    It already has a long standing partnership with Pakistan, where it is building ports, supplying fighters, tanks, and nuclear-tipped missiles. This had recently forced Antony to term the relationship as “military nexus”.

    A few years back China had build a major relationship with Sri Lanka by constructing a brand new sea port at Hambantota facing the India Ocean. In lieu, Chinese Navy ships get re-fuelling facilities at Sri Lanka. It has strategic interests in Myanmar for its gas fields and is helping that nation is building roads and infrastructure.

    Meanwhile, what should worry India are the reports from Kathmandu that quoted Adviser to Nepal Defence Minister Subhash Devkota as having that the money (Rs 220 million) from China will be utilised to supply the “non-lethal” military hardware, including logistics and training to the Nepal Army.

    It was these worries that had forced India to welcome the Nepal Army Chief and use his old association with India hoping to counter China’s activity in Nepal. General Gurung was chief guest at the passing-out-parade at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun on Saturday. India’s security perspectives and concerns in the region have figured in the discussions, said a senior official.

    The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News

    China to train Nepal Army; Pledges Rs 220 million military aid
     
  3. Koji

    Koji New Member

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    "The date of the visit of Prime Minister Nepal to China has been tentatively fixed from December 26 to 31, Bishnu Rijal, press advisor to Prime Minister Nepal has said.

    Providing assistance to construct a dry port at Tatoplani in the east of Kathmandu near the Tibet border, establishing an economic zone in Paanchkhal and duty free access to 497 Nepalese products in the Chinese market would figure during the high level talks between Prime Minister Nepal and Chinese officials in Beijing.

    Contrary to his predecessor, Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', Nepal chose India for his maiden foreign visit, in line with tradition where Nepalese premiers make New Delhi the first port of call after taking office.

    Prachanda's decision to travel to Beijing first had sparked a row in Nepal"


    China pledges Rs100 million military assistance to Nepal - dnaindia.com
     
  4. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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    Cross posting

    Nepal revives tank demand From India

    BY : The Telegraph
    [​IMG]
    Nepal’s army has revived a five-year-old request for supply of tanks in the run-up to this week’s visit by its chief, General Chhattraman Singh Gurung.Requests have also been made for artillery guns, Insas rifles, ammunition, troop carriers, bullet-proof jackets and sighting equipment.
    India has been supplying “non-lethal” equipment to Nepal, but now has to take a call on whether to resume gifting firearms.

    A defence ministry source said Nepal had asked for 100 tanks in two phases at concessional rates.The source said enquiries were made about Ajeya (T-72), the tanks of Russian origin. The Ajeya is the main tank of the Indian Army but is being replaced by the modern Bhishma (T-90), also of Russian origin.
    Nepal’s fresh request underlines just how much the threat perceptions of the country’s army have started to mirror those in the last days of the monarchy in 2005-06.New Delhi cannot afford to take Nepal’s requests lightly: when it turned down similar requests from Sri Lanka as the island nation was going to war with the LTTE, Colombo was forced to source military equipment from China and Pakistan.
    With a 1,700km open border with Nepal, India will be circumspect about increasing Chinese influence in that country.In its earlier avatar as the Royal Nepal Army, the erstwhile kingdom’s military was almost wholly dependent on India for training and supplies. These were suspended in 2005.
    Army chief Gurung will be in India for a week starting Friday. He has a series of high-profile engagements lined up, including one where he will accept from President Pratibha Patil the title of “Honorary Chief of Army Staff” of India on December 14.Gurung is being granted the kind of access that was reserved for Nepal’s army chiefs in the best days of the military relations between the two nations.
    The relations were strained by the accession of King Gyanendra in 2005, the establishment of a republic and the possibility of Maoist cadres being inducted into Nepal’s army.
    On December 14, the day he is conferred the title, Gurung will also attend a presentation in the office of the Indian army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, on “Indian Security Perspectives”.


    Nepal revives tank demand From India IDRW.ORG
     
  5. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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    Nepal Seeks Weapons From India

    After a hiatus of five years, India and Nepal have revived their defence ties and will shortly initiate various projects involving procurement of defence and military equipment.

    The visiting Chief of the Nepal Army, General Chhattraman Singh Gurung, has made inquiries regarding supply of tanks as well as artillery guns, INSAS rifles, ammunition, troop carriers, bullet-proof jackets and sighting equipment from India.

    Defence Ministry officials revealed that Nepal has requested for 100 tanks in two phases at concessional rates. Nepal also enquired about Ajeya (T-72) tanks of Russian origin.

    During the recent three-day joint-secretary level meeting in Nepal, India has agreed in principle to resume non-lethal military supplies to Nepal. Nepal and India also agreed to share intelligence and to cooperate on constructing an airbase for the Nepalese army in the western part of the country. India also agreed to provide training to Nepalese security personnel to upgrade their capabilities and to share intelligence for improving security.

    Although India and Nepal have been traditional allies and virtually all of the training and supplies of the Royal Nepal Army were sourced from India, both countries stalled defence cooperation in 2005 after King Gyanenedra took over and Nepal became a republic. India was skeptical about military cooperation due to the fear of Maoist in the Nepal Army.

    At this juncture, India is being optimistic and trustworthy about Nepal and has even honored Chief of Nepal Army General Chhattraman Singh Gurung with the title of “Honorary Chief of Army Staff” in India. General Gurung visited various dignitaries and participated in high-level meetings during his Indian visit.

    Nepal Seeks Weapons From India | India Defence Online
     
  6. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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  7. Sridhar

    Sridhar House keeper Moderator

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    India grants honorary General’s rank to Nepalese army chief

    16 Dec 2009: Nepalese army chief General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung, has been awarded an honorary rank of general of the Indian army by President Pratibha Patil, who is also the supreme commander of the Indian armed forces. The practice of awarding honorary ranks to Nepalese military personnel has been a long standing practice, but it was stopped briefly after the takeover of nation by then Nepalese King Gyanendra.

    Military experts say that the move to award the honorary rank is a step in the right direction. Speaking to 8ak, RSN Singh, former R&AW officer and author of several books on international relations, termed the development as positive. He further said that for India to maintain its influence in Nepal, it was paramount to maintain cordial relations with the Nepalese army, as it was the only institution, which could neutralise the balance of power in the country that is witnessing a rise in Chinese influence due to the political emergence of Maoists.

    Colonel Om Singh, spokesperson of the Indian army said “the awarding of honorary rank assumes special significance in the light of enhanced bilateral co-operation between the two countries”. He said “sustained cooperation between the two armies is ongoing in the fields of training, visits, equipment cooperation, and miscellaneous mutually beneficial activities”.

    Indian army is largely responsible for training of Nepalese army apart from supplying arms and ammunition.

    8ak - Indian Defence News: India grants honorary General?s rank to Nepalese army chief
     
  8. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

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    India-Nepal to sign new defense pact
    Monday, December 21, 2009
    By Saurabh Joshi

    India and Nepal are set to agree on a defense agreement known as the Indo-Nepal Defense Cooperation Framework. According to sources, the treaty is meant to supplement the existing Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950, and also insure Indo-Nepal relations, especially marked by close defense ties, against any fallout from the simmering tensions in Nepal.

    There have been worries as to whether the treaty of 1950 would survive the increasingly unpredictable political situation in Nepal, which is why India wants to cement its defense ties with Nepal through a separate agreement.

    The defense agreement is also intended to provide a reassuring brace to the Nepal Army by way of specifically deepening the direct defense relationship between the two countries. The earlier supply of defense material from India to Nepal and the recruitment of Nepalese Gorkhas into the Indian ArmyGor had been interrupted because of the civil conflict between the Maoists and the Nepal Army.

    This is now clearly set to change with India taking note of the growing Chinese military aid to the Himalayan country and its worryingly increasing influence in Nepal. Sources have also indicated that besides the fresh defense treaty, India is also separately moving towards again supplying the Nepal Army with weaponry such as the INSAS rifles, mortars, howitzers and Armored Personnel Carriers and is also assisting in setting up airstrips, besides increased seats for Nepal Army officer cadets at Indian military training institutions.

    Both India and Nepal have been working together on the Defense Cooperation Framework this month and significant progress was made in the run-up to the visit of the Nepal Army chief, General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung, to India ten days back, during which he given the honorary rank of General of the Indian Army.

    Chinese military aid to Nepal has been creeping upwards, with China recently announcing a package worth Nepalese Rs 100 million. While this amount is supposed to be for non-lethal supplies, coupled with recent reports indicating planned Chinese training for the Nepal army, it has caused concern in India.

    India-Nepal to sign new defense pact | StratPost
     
  9. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

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    India wary as China spreads Nepal reach

    India wary as China spreads Nepal reach

    New Delhi, Dec. 21: When Nepal army chief Chhatraman Singh Gurung was being feted with the honorary rank of general in the Indian Army here last week, his deputy was quietly signing a deal with a visiting Chinese military delegation in Kathmandu.To analysts in Kathmandu, the two developments will inevitably evoke a familiar description of Nepal -- that of “a yam stuck between two boulders”. The boulders, of course, are India and China.

    But in New Delhi, the military establishment is concerned that India’s army and government are risking losing a space they have traditionally held on to.

    General Torun Jung Bahadur Singh, who was acting as army chief in Kathmandu in the absence of Gurung, signed a deal with Major General Jia Jialing, deputy director in the foreign relations cell of the Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army. The Chinese pledged 20.8 million yuan (Rs 14.2 crore approximately) as aid for “non lethal” military equipment.

    Nepal’s ammunition-starved army is looking for newer and surer sources of supply since India began turning off the tap of military aid in 2001 and then almost brought it to a halt in 2005.

    To the defence establishment in New Delhi, the signs are unmistakable: China is stepping-in in Nepal just as it had in Sri Lanka and before that in Myanmar because India has been chary of continuing with military aid to neighbours beset by domestic troubles.

    Sri Lanka has all but moved on after brutally crushing the three-decade LTTE insurgency with military might in May this year. Sri Lanka’s army was using Chinese weaponry and ammunition apart from the outdated Indian equipment it had in its arsenal.

    In Myanmar, where India was shy of courting the military junta because of Delhi’s political support to the democracy movement of Aung San Suu Kyi and the fear of international criticism, it has stepped up visits and exchanges. Three years ago, India even supplied field guns and a maritime surveillance aircraft to Myanmar.But by then the Chinese were everywhere, investing in Myanmar’s ports, highways and industries and helping prop up its army militarily.

    For the military establishment in India, the waning of goodwill in Sri Lanka and Myanmar is a loss that it is now trying to make up. In Nepal, senior Indian Army officers say, there cannot be a waiting period.Nepal is vastly different for India from the island nation or from Myanmar. With neither of those countries does India have an open border. The unique India-Nepal relationship grants reciprocal citizenship rights (minus voting rights) to the residents of each country. Nepalese Gorkhas serve in the Indian Army in large numbers.

    The move to fete General Gurung and resume arms supplies to Nepal’s army, sources argue, should be seen in this context — and not merely from the point of view of touching off sensitivities among the Himalayan nation’s Maoists.

    One officer said that when Prachanda headed the government before being forced to quit over the reinstatement of the former Nepal army chief, General Rukmangad Katawal, there were moves by Kathmandu to get closer to China.

    Prachanda’s defence minister and former chief of the Nepal Maoists’ militia, Ram Bahadur Thapa (Badal), visited Beijing in September 2008. The Chinese army’s deputy chief, Lt Gen Ma Ziaotian, who also oversees India-China military relations and was in charge of their two joint drills, met Prachanda in December last year.

    Now, Prachanda’s successor and Nepal’s current Prime Minister, Madhav Nepal, is scheduled to visit China on December 26.

    The Chinese have expressed concern over the Tibetan protests in Nepal at a time Kathmandu is reported to have sought Indian military help to build an airstrip for its army’s air wing in Surkhet near Nepal’s border with Tibet. The Nepal Maoists have been quick to allege that India intends to use such an airstrip as a base for operations against China in the event of hostilities.

    After being given his honorary rank and hosting General Deepak Kapoor at a lavish reception in the Nepalese embassy in Delhi last week, General Gurung is understood to have invited the Indian Army chief to Kathmandu.

    Traditionally, a new Indian Army chief’s first visit has been to Nepal where he, too, is given the honorary rank. Kapoor’s predecessor, General J.J. Singh, now governor of Arunachal Pradesh, was twice advised against visiting Nepal for the ceremony. Kapoor has visited many countries and is now in the last leg of his tenure.

    Whether Kapoor will accept the invitation and visit Kathmandu before he retires early next year will be a demonstration of the Indian government’s diplomatic intent in the face of the resurgent Maoists in Nepal.

    The resumption of arms supplies — armoured personnel carriers, Insas rifles, ammunition and possibly even tanks — to Nepal’s army and a visit by Kapoor will demonstrate not only New Delhi’s resolve in encouraging an “apolitical and professional” military in Nepal but also its determination to maintain its strategic and political space in the Himalayan country that China is nibbling into.

    The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Frontpage | India wary as China spreads Nepal reach
     
  10. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Over 200 Maoist cadres quit party in Nepal

    Kathmandu, Apr 30 (PTI) Ahead of their massive protests to topple the coalition government in Nepal, hundreds of Maoist cadres, including combatants, have quit the party due to differences with their top leaders' current policy.

    More than 200 Maoist cadres, including Maoist People's Liberation Army Brigade Commander at 7th Division in Kailali Ram Krishna Chaudhari, have quit the party saying that they disfavour the idea of their leaders who see power as the ultimate goal.

    Chaudhari said he had quit the party as the Maoists were taking the country to nowhere. Those defecting the party include 44 Maoist combatants.

    Ramechhap district commander of the Maoist party Ashish Tamang is among those defecting the party. Others include company commander, battalion commander, section commander, platoon commander and Young Communist League members.

    The defecting Maoists?have?joined Sanghiya Rastriya Lokatantrik Manch, an ethnic organisation of Terai region led by Laxman Tharu.
     
  11. Tim

    Tim New Member

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    I was recently in Nepal and spoke to some of my Nepalese colleagues regarding India's chauvinist attitudes toward it's smaller neighbors. your open talk about using propaganda and coercive acts to meddle the affairs of another country, albeit smaller, offers proof of such attitude. It does not help India's cause.
     
  12. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Maoists call off strike after six days

    Nepal's Maoist party has ended an indefinite strike after six days saying it was taking a heavy toll on ordinary people.

    [​IMG]
    Police fired weapons into the air and used tear gas to disperse the crowds

    Party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the Maoists would continue with other forms of protest.

    The former rebel group has staged demonstrations and brought the country to a virtual standstill, in an attempt to force the government to resign.

    Transport, schools and businesses have been closed and tourists evacuated.

    "We have decided to end the strike keeping in mind the difficulties the general people have had to face," Mr Dahal said on Friday.

    'Masses against the masses'

    Thousands of Maoists have been out on the streets since Sunday, protesting against the government led by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

    On Friday riot police used tear gas to disperse crowds.

    [​IMG]
    The country has been hit by repeated strikes

    Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai said the protests were not over, but that they had "changed the form of process" of their movement.

    "Over [the] week we launched political strike, government responded. But the government turned the masses against the masses," he told the BBC's Joanna Jolly.

    Also on Friday, about 20,000 people took part in a protest against the Maoists in Kathmandu.

    Kush Kumar Joshi, organiser of the rally and head of Nepal's chambers of commerce, told AFP news agency the strike was "crippling the business industry".

    Mr Dahal was elected as prime minister in 2008 but resigned last year in a dispute over a failed attempt to sack the army chief.

    The Maoists, who are the largest party in parliament, are demanding Mr Nepal steps down and that their party lead a national unity government.

    They say the government has not consolidated Nepal's peace process and has failed to draft a new constitution - due by 28 May.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8669158.stm
     
  13. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Nepal Maoist chief says ready to break ties with fighters

    KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's Maoist chief said his party is willing to give up control of thousands of its former fighters now lodged in U.N.-monitored camps, a step that could help cement peace in the Himalayan nation.

    Prachanda told a public rally late on Wednesday that he was willing to let a special committee headed by the prime minister take charge of the former fighters and decide on their rehabilitation.

    The Maoists have been asking that their fighters be absorbed into the national army.

    "Now our party is ready to break its relation with the PLA (People's Liberation Army)," Prachanda said.

    There was some scepticism about Prachanda's offer because the Maoists have in the past broken promises.

    "If what Prachanda says is implemented, it will definitely help the peace process," said Bishnu Raj Upreti who teaches at Kathmandu University's Human and Natural Resources Study Centre.

    Four years ago, Nepal ended a decade-long Maoist insurgency but the question of rehabilitation of some 19,000 ex-rebel fighters has imperiled permanent peace.

    As a buffer between rivals India and China, Nepal's politics has regional implications. It has abundant potential to generate hydroelectric power and supply water for millions of people in India, and is seen by China as crucial to the security of Tibet.

    The Maoists headed a strike last week, saying Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal must quit because he has been unable to forward the peace process and ensure the drafting of a new constitution.
     
  14. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    India pledges Rs 81.9 million for 2 projects in Nepal

    Kathmandu, May 13 (PTI) India today pledged financial assistance of Rs 81.9 million for construction of a college building and a cold storage in Nepal.

    Two separate MoUs were signed in this regard between the Indian embassy and Nepalese authorities here, said a statement from the mission.

    Under the Indian assistance, Nepali Rs 3.74 crore will be spent on the construction of 'Himalaya Campus' for a college at Khandwari in Sankhuwasabha district in eastern Nepal, which would include a triple-storey building, boundary wall and provision for furniture.

    The college is currently providing bachelor level education to over 1,200 students, about half of whom are girls.

    Separately, Nepali Rs 4.45 crore will be spent on the construction of a cold storage building with a boundary wall and provision of machinery and equipment in Bhadrapur Municipality in Jhapa district, also in eastern Nepal.
     
  15. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Prachanda ready to disband guerrilla army

    As Nepal’s political parties struggled to reach a compromise on Thursday, the Maoist chief said he was ready to dissolve the party’s paramilitary organisation and facilitate the integration of its combatants in a bid to end the standoff between the government and the former rebels.

    Prachanda, who is also the supreme commander of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army, said his party was ready to dissolve the paramilitary structure of the Young Communist League (YCL), the youth wing of the party, within 4-5 days and integrate and rehabilitate the Maoist combatants within four months.

    “We’ll dismantle the barracks of the Young Communist League within four-five days. We are ready to break the relation of the party with the cantonments,” he underlined.

    Unified CPN-Maoist is also ready to return the land and property seized during the decade-long insurgency as per the demands of the other political parties at the earliest, Mr. Prachanda said during an interaction with members of the civil society in the capital on Wednesday.

    Mr. Prachanda said the party was ready to categorise the Maoist combatants by mid-June in a bid to speed up the integration of the former rebels.

    While the former rebels want an en masse induction of some 19,500 former guerrillas, the ruling parties say the Maoists inflated the size of the PLA and are entitled to have only 3,500-4,000 combatants accommodated in the military.

    Major political parties have asked the Maoists to disband their paramilitary groups and turn their organisation into a civilian party and return properties seized before they could consider supporting a government led by the Maoists.

    Mr. Prachanda also asked for the setting up of a reconciliation commission to establish the whereabouts of nearly 1,000 people who went missing during the “People’s War” and are feared to have been killed by security forces or the former rebels themselves.

    Nepali Congress, the second largest party in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, has asked the Maoists to implement its commitments so as to end the political deadlock.

    Sher Bahadur Deuba, the former Prime Minister of the Nepali Congress, said though the Maoists commitments were positive, they should put these commitments into practice.

    http://beta.thehindu.com/news/international/article429129.ece
     
  16. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    China and the West step into Nepal crisis

    By Peter Lee

    The abrupt curtailment on May 7 of the bandh or general strike in Kathmandu called by the United Communist Party Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) seemed to demonstrate the limits of the Maoists' popular support. However, this apparent setback reflects a deal to smooth the Maoists' re-entry into Nepal's government as China and Western powers try to bring an end to months of unproductive and potentially violent deadlock. Beijing looks forward to the formation of a consensus government incorporating the Maoists and responsive to China's concerns.

    India, on the other hand, must ponder if it is ready to resign itself to the loss of a compliant if ineffectual client regime in Kathmandu.

    New Delhi orchestrated the entry of the Maoist insurgents into



    mainstream politics. Then, alarmed by the Maoists' victories in the 2008 parliamentary elections, it propped up a rump government of democratic parties that has been able to exclude the Maoists from civilian power, but unable to win widespread respect and support. Concurrently, India ramped up its ties with the reliably anti-Maoist Nepalese army, raising the specter of military intervention and a return to civil war if the process of political reconciliation collapsed.

    Faced with Indian stonewalling, the Maoists found a willing ally in Beijing - even though, on ideological grounds, the UCPN-M excoriates the current regime of the Chinese Communist Party as "revisionist".

    During the brief period in 2008 after the election when the Maoists held power, in a conscious and high-profile break with precedent, the prime minister made his first official visit to Beijing instead of New Delhi. During the mortifying anti-Chinese demonstrations in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, the Maoist government ingratiated itself to China by coming down hard on restive Tibetan refugees in Kathmandu.

    Soon after, the Maoists pulled out of the government in a dispute over successful (and somewhat unconstitutional) efforts by Nepal's (pro-Indian) president to block the Maoists' attempts to remove the (pro-Indian) chief of army staff.

    Since then, in an atmosphere of increasing acrimony and anti-Indian resentment, the Maoists have struggled to push aside the tottering bourgeois edifice of coalition government nominally led by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Nepali Congress. Together with their People's Liberation Army (PLA) personnel rusticating in United Nations-supervised cantonements and thuggish Youth Communist League (YCL) street forces, the Maoists are increasingly seen and resented as a part of the problem.

    Although the Maoists dominate large areas of the countryside, the urban insurrectionary nut has proved hard to crack.

    At the beginning of May, the Maoists mustered over 100,000 supporters to Kathmandu to demand that a Maoist-led administration replace the current order. The government, reportedly with backbone inserted by the Indian government, declined to fold. Western powers met with the Maoists' leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal (nom de guerre "Prachanda", meaning "awesome") to urge restraint.

    The Maoists' claim to iron-handed control of the streets was challenged by an embarrassing counter-demonstration of some 20,000 white-shirt clad opponents. Prachanda decided not to escalate matters and called off the bandh.

    There was a certain amount of exultant backslapping among the democratic parties that somebody had finally faced down the Maoists. However, the euphoria was short-lived.

    If the India-backed government had its way, it would have weathered the bandh simply to kick the political can another year down the road by extending the term of the current Constituent Assembly - which, by virtue of the Maoists' boycott, has been able to accomplish nothing for a long, long time.

    However, this prospect was apparently not pleasing to the European Union, the United States or China.

    The deadlock has a cost. Financially and economically, Nepal is a basket case. According to government statistics, 66% of Nepalese households are short of food and half of the children in the country are malnourished - and no doubt providing a ready reservoir of future cadres for the Maoists. [1]

    More importantly, the Maoists apparently have no intention of allowing the current government to extend its rule.

    May 28, 2010, is the witching hour - this is the date, after over two futile and unproductive years, when the mandate of the Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution and make way for normalized, democratic business, expires.

    The Maoists have declared that no extension of the assembly is acceptable and the current government will have its legality evaporate on May 28.

    The Maoists have circulated reports that they are preparing a "final jolt" - another round of mass demonstrations and strikes designed to plunge the nation into a constitutional crisis and pave the way for the Maoists' triumphant return to government on their own terms.

    Observing the Maoist display of muscle in Kathmandu and the continued helplessness of the coalition government as it stumbled into the waning days of its existence, the US and EU have apparently decided to remove the Nepal brief from New Delhi's hands and try to orchestrate a more peaceful transition.

    China finds itself in the highly satisfactory position of lining up with the United States and against India on the matter of Nepal, which has been recognized - both by the West and by China - as well within India's sphere of influence for decades.

    Already prior to the bandh, on April 26, US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake visited Kathmandu to encourage the Maoists to renounce violence both in the upcoming demonstration and in their political platform.

    In return, various inducements were offered: removal of the Maoists from the US terrorist list and the promise that, if PLA combatants couldn't find a happy home in the army, the West would throw some money at the problem ("vocational training or other kinds of training," as Blake put it). [2]

    On April 29, Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the US Pacific Command, visited Kathmandu to talk things over with the Nepalese army and, presumably, discourage them from the idea of pouring from their barracks to violently suppress the bandh.

    Or, as the US Embassy put it:
    [Willard] reiterated the United States' position that all parties should exercise restraint during the planned upcoming demonstrations and work to fashion a permanent peace through dialogue and constructive consultations. [3]
    On May 4, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Jiang Yu departed from China's stated policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs and obliquely stated Beijing's support for a government that included the Maoists:
    As a friendly neighbor, China sincerely hopes that all political parties in Nepal ... seek political common ground and properly handle internal differences through dialogue and consultation so as to jointly press ahead with the hard-won peace process ... [4]
    After Prachanda obligingly pulled the plug on the irritating but non-violent bandh (featuring the usual heavy-handed intimidation and extortion of money, goods and services by the YCL, but little overt bashing with clubs, bricks and bars), the US, the EU and China stepped in to encourage the formation of a consensus government, that is, a government that included the Maoists and, on the basis of the Maoists' plurality in the 2008 elections, a Maoist prime minister. China and the West step into Nepal crisis
    By Peter Lee

    The Telegraph Nepal, which often displays a resentment of New Delhi's interference in Nepalese affairs, reported on the state of play - and the perceived discomfiture of India's ambassador - with some relish on May 7:
    [US ambassador Scott] DeLisi told [UCPN-Maoist number 2] Dr Bhattarai that the US was ready to play a positive role to bring a logical end to the stalled peace process of Nepal.

    "We expect Nepal's two immediate neighbors, India and China, to play constructive roles to end the current political impasse”, the US envoy in his meeting with the Maoists' leader said, adding, "But, Nepalis themselves should find a solution to their internal dispute."

    The US for the first time has seen the need of the Chinese regime to ""play" a role in ending the current Nepal dispute. A grand departure from the old practices indeed. [India's] ambassador Rakesh Sood has reasons to panic. [5]
    On May 11, the Telegraph Nepal reported on rumblings in the



    local-language press concerning a meeting between the Western ambassadors and the Nepalese foreign minister:
    Ambassador DeLisi preferred not to make any comments but yet when he came out of the meeting room he told journalists that the US had no objection to the formation of the Maoist-party-led government, but the strings remain attached, writes the Kantipur Daily, May 11, 2010.

    The Nagarik Daily, May 11, 2010 on the other hand reveals quoting an unnamed source as saying that the ambassadors clearly hinted during the meeting that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal should tender his resignation to pave way for formation of a National Unity Government. [6]
    The "strings attached" relate to the reconstitution of the UCPN-Maoists as a conventional political party through the dissolution of its military and paramilitary wings - the PLA and YCL.

    A fortuitous announcement of American largesse seems to confirm that the US is encouraging the move to a deal with the usual financial inducements, as the Himalayan Times relayed an announcement from the US Embassy:
    Nepal has been selected as one of 20 focus countries for US President [Barack] Obama's $3.5 billion Feed the Future initiative, a comprehensive approach that aims at reducing poverty in the developing world. [7]
    China also joined the club with the announcement that it would provide 30 million Nepalese rupees (US$416,490) worth of food-related aid to 10 districts along the Chinese-Nepali border. [8]

    The Times of India grimly confirmed the buzz out of Kathmandu and the unwelcome perception that, for the moment at least, New Delhi must share the coveted Nepal brief with the West:
    Usurping the Indian role of playing big brother in Nepal's political affairs, Western governments, including the European Union, have begun mounting pressure on Nepal's beleaguered Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to quit. [9]
    Premier Nepal, for his part, tried to disrupt the proceedings and sow discord within the UCPN-M by declaring he would not step down in favor of Prachanda - the brusque, determined "Mao Zedong" of the movement, as it were - and implying that his Chou Enlai (and rival for power), the silky, superior Dr Baburam Bhattarai, would be the preferred choice.

    However, the West's apparent designation of Prime Minister Nepal as a lame duck seems to have tipped the post-bandh political balance back to the Maoists.

    Bhattarai exploited the perception of Western dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Nepal (and attempted to dodge the awkward question of dissolving the YCL) to assert that the premier was reneging on a deal to step down after the Maoists called off the bandh.

    China's state media helped keep the ball rolling by picking up a report from the website nepalnews.com with the UCPN-M-friendly title "Entrepreneurs urge PM to resign for consensus". [10]

    However, Xinhua found it expedient to excise one paragraph from the original that was not particularly flattering to the Maoists:
    PM Nepal also urged the entrepreneurs not to give donations to the Maoists, saying giving donations to Maoists would be like feeding milk to a snake. [11]
    The People's Daily pulled the article altogether, leaving only the title. [12]

    If reports in the Nepalese press are accurate, Western powers are expressing dissatisfaction with the government's foot-dragging on reconciliation and it appears the call to dissolve the YCL might become lost in the shuffle.

    On May 12, the two main coalition parties, the Nepali Congress and the UML, resigned themselves to Prime Minister Nepal's departure but tried to throw a different wrench in the works by calling for the Maoists to announce a plan for eliminating PLA cantonements and committing to a "timetable" for writing the constitution as conditions for setting up a consensus government. [13]

    For a party that has the word "Maoist" right there in its name, the surrender of military assets - particularly when squaring off again against the Nepalese army is a real possibility - is a difficult pill to swallow.

    Nevertheless, Prachanda declared his willingness to resolve the PLA issue within four months and returned the focus to forcing out the unpopular prime minister. In the words of nepalnews:
    Stating that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will not resign at any cost even if UML asks him, [Prachanda] finally said it was a tussle between progressive and regressive forces, which will determine whether republican Nepal will grow as an independent or dependent nation. [14]
    If the coalition parties continue to throw up roadblocks instead of capitulating, the Maoists may decide to let the struggle play out on their terms after May 28 and turn to mediation from Western powers and China to put Prachanda in the prime minister's chair and keep the Nepalese army off the streets.

    That would not be a particularly welcome outcome for New Delhi.

    However, India may finally decide that reconciliation, at least on the surface, between the hostile parties is preferable to the resumption of a bloody, grinding civil war on its northern border near the "Red Corridor" where New Delhi is wrestling with its own nettlesome Naxalite Maoist insurgency.

    India's problems are, to a large extent, of its own making.

    As author and Nepal expert Mikel Dunham told Asia Times Online, "India is reaping what it sowed ... It always had the upper hand in its dealings with Nepal and treated them like poor country cousins. Now India can't make overt moves in Nepalese politics. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't."

    China finds itself in an strong position in Kathmandu, no matter what happens. It has managed to keep its distance from the Maoists and position itself as a generous and relatively apolitical provider of aid and promoter of stability and development.

    Dunham commented, "It doesn't make any difference who's in power. Anyone in power will subscribe to a one-China policy. And that is all Beijing expects of the Nepali government, at least at this juncture."
     
  17. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Royal logjam in Nepal


    The Pioneer Edit Desk

    Thanks to Maoists, chaos inevitable

    What appeared to be Maoist cussedness and belligerence till now increasingly looks like an elaborate conspiracy to ensure Nepal is thrown into political turmoil and uncertainty in the absence of a Constitution which was to have been drafted and adopted by the Constituent Assembly by May 28. Mr Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and his comrades, when they were in power after the Maoists emerged as the single largest party in the Constituent Assembly election, wasted time on needless distractions and in trying to grab full control of the state and its organs, especially the Army, in the most illegitimate and unseemly manner. When Mr Dahal failed to have his way with sacking the Army chief who refused to pack Nepal’s military with Maoist fighters, he made a great show of upholding the supremacy of civilian authority. Fortunately, that charade did not convince the President and Mr Dahal had to exit office to salvage his dignity, or what remained of it. Since then, the Maoists have used every possible intimidatory tactics to prevent the successor Government headed by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal from functioning and the Constituent Assembly from doing its job of drafting and adopting a republican Constitution. With the popularity of the Maoists dipping with each passing day and the intelligentsia increasingly becoming critical of their disruptive agitprop, Mr Dahal’s rage boys made a last ditch effort to demonstrate their clout by calling for an indefinite strike. Fearing violence, the people stayed home for a few days; later, they took to the streets, staging massive protests against the Maoists and forcing Mr Dahal to turn tail and call off the strike. But by then the damage had been caused and the Constituent Assembly was left with less than a fortnight to finish its task of producing a Constitution and calling for a fresh parliamentary election.

    The incumbent Government can avert a crisis only if it is able to get the Constituent Assembly to vote for an extension of its term, say by a year, so that a Constitution can be adopted. But this would require approval by two-thirds members of the Constituent Assembly which, on the face of it, appears to be impossible if the Maoists do not endorse the extension. Mr Dahal has let it be known that the Maoists will oppose the move to extend the life of the Constituent Assembly unless Mr Madhav Kumar Nepal resigns and he is made Prime Minister. That would, of course, be an unwise move, not least because Mr Dahal has demonstrated that neither does he have the ability to hold the Prime Minister’s office nor keep his comrades, who have no intention of allowing Nepal to emerge as a democracy, on a tight leash. In a sense, Nepal is paying the price for trusting the Maoists.
     
  18. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Letter From Kathmandu


    Summary: Although the United States envisions Nepal as a stable and democratic buffer between China and India, the road ahead may be determined by those competing giants.

    The half-built road to Lamabagar, a Nepalese farming village near the border with Tibet, has the feel of an active war zone. Clouds of rock explode from the cliffs as construction workers blast a path north toward the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Porters lumber up the twisting Himalayan switchbacks with boxes of dynamite strapped to their heads. The road is meant to connect the district capital of Dolakha with a hydroelectric dam at the north end of the valley, though one day it may continue north, giving this Himalayan buffer state a vital new overland route to China. All the commotion is purposeful since Nepal is plagued by chronic electricity shortages, which the 456-megawatt plant, scheduled to open in 2014, is meant to address.

    The Nepali crews that inch closer to China, bringing heavy trucks to a valley that has known only foot traffic, are at the forefront of a potentially major strategic shift in the region: Nepal, long a dependable ally and client of India, is building economic and political ties with China. Good roads are just one sign of this relationship and, as Rhoderick Chalmers, an International Crisis Group analyst in Kathmandu, explained to me, could "prevent India from using its ultimate sanction of economic blockade on Kathmandu." If China can begin supplying many of the goods that Nepal now receives from India -- especially petrol, diesel, and kerosene -- then India's leverage would be severely limited.

    Although one new highway will not in itself push Nepal from India's sphere of influence -- history, economics, and above all, geography will see to that -- the mere fact that India may one day have to compete for Nepal's attention is a sign of Kathmandu's political reorientation. In 2006, as Nepal's monarchy teetered, Maoist leaders and pro-democracy parties signed a comprehensive peace agreement ending a decade-long civil war. Since then, Kathmandu has been building a nascent democracy while wedged in a proxy battle between China and India -- with the United States and Europe watching closely.

    For now, Nepal remains in an uncertain position. Rolling blackouts keep much of the country in the dark for up to 12 hours a day. Inflation and consumer prices have skyrocketed, rising 13 percent between 2008 and 2009. Food prices have been hit especially hard: the price of sugar, for example, nearly doubled from 50 rupees per kilogram (about 66 cents) in mid-2009 to 90 rupees (about $1.19) this past winter, no small sum in a country where 78 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

    Meanwhile, the country's peace process is in tatters, with Maoist fighters having made veiled threats of returning to violence if they are not incorporated into the state structure. The current constitution will expire on May 28, and Nepal's political parties will have to agree on a new one -- a moment that many Nepalese hope will bring about political stability and economic growth. Newspapers in Kathmandu have taken to printing graphics that count down the number of days until May 28. Bipin Adhikari, a legal expert in Kathmandu, recently wrote in Himal Southasian magazine that nothing less than "a new Nepal" is at stake -- one with adequate legal protections for minority groups, a new system of governance, and minimal ethnic or cultural discrimination. Economic prosperity, this thinking goes, will naturally follow.

    Yet the country's political parties appear more concerned with holding on to power than pushing real reform. As the May 28 deadline approaches, Maoist party chiefs are threatening to endorse their own constitution if not given a leadership role in a new national unity government. A weeklong Maoist-led strike to protest the current prime minister ended on May 8, but not before economic losses topped a quarter of a billion dollars, by some estimates. A report last February from the Carter Center argued that although Nepal's "indigenous and marginalized" communities expect the new constitution to provide stability and to address basic needs, "national political parties remain largely inactive on constitutional issues at the local level."

    As a result, it appears almost certain that the constitutional drafting deadline will be missed, throwing the country into further disarray. For Nepal's 29 million people, the stakes could not be higher. "This is the first time a representative body is drafting a constitution in Nepal," said Surya Dhungel, a constitutional adviser to Nepal's president. "We're in the process of restructuring everything."

    A successful resolution of the peace process will be needed to make the political gains from a new constitution lasting. Disagreement over whether and how to incorporate Maoist rebels into the country's security forces continues to divide the negotiating parties. In a speech in early March, B. Lynn Pascoe, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, criticized all sides for contributing to the stalemate. "Progress has slowed and unity has frayed," Pascoe said. "The Nepali public has become impatient and disappointed, and the feeling is increasingly shared in the international community."

    As Nepal inches toward a draft constitution and lasting peace deal, it is counting on India, its longstanding patron and a fellow Hindu-majority state. New Delhi remains Kathmandu's biggest supplier of essential goods, including gasoline, and the Nepalese are addicted to Indian films, music, and other forms of pop culture. Although new roads in Nepal's northern reaches may one day extend the country's economic linkages to China, for now the majority of all trade flows are to and from India in the south. Yet, New Delhi's self-interest may threaten the long-term health of the bilateral relationship. New Delhi is facing its own Maoist insurgents, in its eastern provinces, and may be more concerned with internal security than shoring up Nepal's political dynamic. Some believe that India is withholding support for Nepal's peace process in an effort to ensure that a Maoist-led government does not return to power and gain control of the military. During their brief rule in 2009, Maoist leaders expressed hostility toward India and made overt political overtures to China. The Maoists' ties to Beijing "crossed India's red lines," argues the International Crisis Group, and this concern continues to drive New Delhi's calculations. Indian diplomacy in Nepal is defined more by absence than interference, the ICG contends.

    China, however, is not waiting for a new Nepalese government to emerge before engaging. Since 2008, when bloody protests erupted on the Tibetan plateau, China's core interest in Nepal has been to minimize the political activities of Tibetan refugees living there, which China views as potential threats to its own security. Beijing has consistently linked economic and military aid to Kathmandu's adherence to a "one China" policy, a thinly veiled reference to Nepal's ban on political demonstrations by Tibetan exiles. As recently as March, China's defense minister pledged additional military aid to Nepal following statements from Kathmandu reiterating the one-China commitment. Chinese officials have also called for increased security on Nepal's side of the border to stem the flow of Tibetan refugees, including in the area of Lamabagar's road project. Chinese diplomats are, according to a 2009 ICG report, "vocal, unsubtle and rigidly consistent" regarding Tibetans in Nepal. "Nepali governments of any political color have little choice but to bow to their powerful neighbor's primary concern," the report concluded.

    China's renewed interest in its southern neighbor is not entirely a quid pro quo. In Kathmandu, mobs of Chinese tour groups visit the tourist enclave of Thamel, where they frequent Chinese-run restaurants, bookstores, and hospitals. Meanwhile, Chinese cultural centers are popping up across the country, notably in the Terai, along Nepal's southern border with India. According to the Chinese embassy in Nepal, projects such as the Birendra International Convention Center -- a gleaming complex near Kathmandu's international airport -- and the capital city's main highway are evidence that "China treats Nepal as its closest neighbor and best friend."

    Although the above initiatives aim to signify the softer side of Chinese-Nepali ties, China ultimately appears most interested in stifling "anti-Chinese" activities on Nepal's soil. And given China's single-minded focus, Communist Party leaders in Beijing seem less concerned with Kathmandu's political jockeying than with ensuring that the next government is as pliant as the current one. One strategy, analysts suggest, has been to focus fewer resources on national politics and more on localized economic aid, such as building schools in politically sensitive border areas. Although China may consider a return of communist governance ideal, its principal concern is stability. "For China, the ideological difference doesn't make any difference," said Dhungel, the presidential adviser. "They had very good relations with the king. They had a very good relationship with the Nepali Congress. And I think they will have relations with whoever emerges as a stable force."

    In the end, although the current political crisis appears destabilizing, it could result in the emergence of a stronger Nepal. Maoist politicians stunned observers in April 2008 by winning a majority of votes in the country's first post-civil war election. Today, they control roughly 40 percent of the 601-seat parliament and are demanding a hard-earned place in whatever coalition government emerges. The country, Dhungel told me, is primed for a "democratic explosion." He argues that the economic potential of Nepal -- from tourism to the development of resources, including hydropower -- remains unrealized.

    Other outside forces -- including the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations -- are all pushing for a peaceful transition to democracy. Washington is calling for the inclusion of the Maoist party (known officially as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist) in the political process, despite the group's continued designation as a terrorist entity by the U.S. State Department. But Western efforts may prove far less influential than those of China and India. In February, Scott DeLisi, who now serves as U.S. ambassador to Nepal, told Congress that the Nepalese often "talk about themselves as a yam between two boulders." He noted that both India and China have a role to play in Nepal's economic and political future. "We certainly want to work closely with the government" of Nepal, DeLisi said, "but in doing that I think we have to recognize that we also have to talk to the other regional actors." Thus, although the United States has its own vision of Nepal as a stable and democratic buffer between competing Asian giants, the road ahead -- whether strewn with boulders or cleared of rubble -- may be in the
    hands of Nepal's neighbors.
     
  19. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    Tension in Nepal after Hindu leader’s murder, one held

    [​IMG]



    Supporters and sympathisers of Kashinath Tiwari, youth leader of the World Hindu Federation, have called for an indefinite Birjung bandh, demanding immediate arrest of his murderers.



    Tiwari, who actively campaigned for Nepal’s “Hindu nation” status, was shot dead inside a temple complex in Birgunj by armed assailants on Saturday.



    Tiwari’s supporters have demanded that the government identify and arrest his killers. “They have demanded that he be declared a martyr as he sacrificed his life for a great cause,” local journalist Pawan Tiwari told The Indian Express on Monday.



    A few days ago, the local media had reported that Tiwari, along with a few other politicians, had received death threats. The police arrested one Jalim Miyan, a local resident, from his house in Sreepur area on Sunday night. Miyan had recently joined the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) at a special function held at his home in which UCPN-M chairman Prachanda was also present.

    Birgunj, a town that borders Bihar’s Raxaul area, has turned into a centre of the World Hindu Federation, which has been campaigning for Nepal being restored its “Hindu nation” status.




    ‘Get serious about constitution’: Nepal President Rambaran Yadav has warned political parties that their indifference towards making the constitution will take away the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly. Rambaran Yadav conveyed the message to Prime Minister Madhav Nepal at a meeting at the President’s office on Monday. “Please tell all political parties that the Constituent Assembly should not lose its relevance and legitimacy,” the President told Madhav Nepal.


    The President’s remarks come exactly a month after the deadline for delivery of the new constitution — May 28. “Nothing seems to have been done, a month has lapsed,” he added.


    According to sources, the President was planning to summon the Prime Minister to share his “concern and frustration” over the indifference of the Constituent Assembly regarding the constitution. However, Madhav Nepal himself sought an appointment with Rambaran Yadav to have the House session summoned.


    “Accordingly, the session is to begin July 5,” said Rajendra Dahal, press advisor to the President. The UCPN-M has categorically stated that it will not allow the presidential address if Prime Minister Madhav Nepal does not step down immediately.


    “I will quit as soon as thee is a consensus on my successor, but Maoists should not dream of heading the new government unless they transform their youth wing, the Young Communist League into a civilian outfit,” Madhav Nepal has said.









    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/tension-in-nepal-after-hindu-leaders-murder-one-held/639762/
     
  20. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Nepal's Maoists poised for pragmatic role

    By Dhruba Adhikary

    KATHMANDU - Madhav Kumar Nepal knew his days as prime minister were numbered, but he didn't want the public to believe he was quitting under pressure from the Maoists. He announced his resignation on national television on Wednesday afternoon, less than a week before his interim government was to submit its annual budget to the legislature. Nepal was well aware the opposition intended to disrupt those proceedings right from the start.

    The grandness of his departure was at odds with his own party, the Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) and his unpopularity over his reluctance to promptly step down. As agreed by the three main



    parties, he was due to go on May 28, when the nation's Constituent Assembly extended its tenure by one year, but hung on for a month.

    "Ultimately the puppet regime has collapsed," thundered the pro-Maoist newspaper Janadishaa on Thursday, alluding to the fall of a coalition that Nepal had headed since May 2009. The paper also ran a 17-point charge-sheet alleging the government had been inept, corrupt and subservient under his leadership.

    While not all neutral media outlets similarly dubbed the outgoing premier a puppet of India, very few offered him support. It seemed that the "sole concern of his government was to be in government itself, with little concern for governance", said a Kathmandu Post editorial.

    Despite the criticism, Nepal's resignation has created a way out of the ongoing political impasse between the Maoist and non-Maoist groups in the legislature, which was headed perhaps towards a more serious confrontation.

    "To find an atmosphere for a negotiated settlement of the issues at hand is indeed a great relief," Dipkumar Upadhayay, an elected legislator of Nepali Congress, a major democratic party, told Asia Times Online.

    President Ram Baran Yadav promptly accepted Nepal's resignation and asked him, as is customary, to continue in office until an alternative arrangement is made. On Thursday, Yadav's office issued a statement appealing for consensus, by July 7, on who should lead the next government.

    The next premier will need to facilitate the peace process and by May 2011oversee the writing of a new constitution that institutionalizes the transition from monarchy to a republic - Nepal's monarchy was abolished in 2008. They will also need to resolve the Maoist demand that members of their "People's Liberation Army" (described in official documents as former Maoist combatants) be integrated with the Nepal Army.

    Should the nation's 25 political parties fail to find a common candidate by the deadline, Yadav will need to invoke a provision of the interim constitution that requires election of a prime minister on the basis of majority in the 601-member assembly.

    Yadav could have directly called for the Maoists's majority political party, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal, to bring about a consensus, since they held a majority of 229 seats in the assembly. However, he has instead taken the neutral step of appealing to all, a move experts say is constitutionally correct and taken in consideration of his own position.

    It is a widely believed that the best successor is a coalition led by the Maoist party and headed by Maoist leader, the former premier Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda). Since the president is a former Nepali Congress leader and the assembly speaker belongs to the UML, the Maoists expect to be given the post of prime minister.

    Analysts like former speaker Daman Dhungana say it essential that the former rebels, who could still be a potent military force, are offered positions of responsibility. Once in power, the Maoists will need to address both domestic and external concerns, and as part of a coalition of several parties they cannot take major policy decisions alone. The interim arrangement will only last one year.

    Some sections of Nepal's intelligentsia saw it as unwise to keep Maoists out of the hierarchy. But others fear that, despite the peace accords concluded in 2006, the Maoists may not quit power when required to do so.

    There is also deep cynicism in the so-called "democratic camp" about the viability of a communist system in Nepal. Those opposing the idea of putting the Maoists in power cite dire historical precedents in China, North Korea, Cuba and Cambodia. They appear reluctant to see the changes China underwent after the Mao Zedong era ended.

    A lust for power seems to be overtaking other considerations, with premiership candidates emerging from the Nepali Congress and the UML. Even regional leaders from the southern border have staked a claim. Opposition to the country's largest political party taking charge doesn't seem solely based on genuine domestic concerns.

    Of the two contenders from the Nepali Congress, Ramchandra Paudel is considered a serious competitor. His rival, former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, has a tainted image because of his past links with former king Gyanendra. UML president Jahalanath Khanal is another aspirant. A known critic of the outgoing Nepal, Khanal could be accepted by Maoists as a compromise candidate.

    Despite their personal differences, Nepal is also likely to support him if there was a chance of the UML retaining the leadership of the coalition.

    Concerns over - and involvement in - Nepal's political transition has been building since 2006 among the international community, including the United Nations. Whoever emerges as the eventual winning candidate is likely to have already earned their important trust.
     

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