News Digest (August 20 – August 26, 2020)


Domestic Politics

Nepal Communist Party (NCP): After about two months of its application, the Election Commission registered a new party in the name of Nepal Communist Party—Unified Marxist Leninist (NCP—UML).[1]

The chief secretary of the new NCP—UML said that People’s Multiparty Democracy is their ideology and late Madan Bhandari their predecessor.[2]

The NCP dispute seems headed towards an agreement. The task force assigned with the responsibility to prepare a framework for it will likely suggest cabinet reshuffle, work division, leadership management in regards to party’s next general convention, and other settlements, while PM’s Oli’s resignation takes a back seat.[3]

NCP co-chair Dahal expressed his dissatisfaction with PM Oli’s disregard for their new agreement that all of the government’s actions will be based on a party consensus. Reportedly, Dahal asked Oli to cancel the appointments made by Oli, which disrespects this agreement, but PM Oli maintained that the cabinet made those appointments before the agreement came into force.[4] The prime minister’s ‘unilateral’ move has also affected the working of the task force, which was formed to recommend ways to resolve the ongoing intra-party wrangling.[5]

The six-member task force submitted a set of recommendations to end the ongoing intra-party conflict. The task force recommendation is a big relief for Oli, as he will not have to give up either of his two posts.[6]

The task force also suggested the government to make amendments to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact before its ratification from the parliament.[7] After a two-hour-long discussion between Oli and Dahal, NCP’s secretariat meeting has been called on August 29, 2020. The meeting will discuss the task force recommendations.[8]

Nepali Congress: Nobody in Nepali Congress can defeat Sher Bahadur Deuba in the general convention, claimed Shashank Koirala.[9] There has been a competition between the Koirala brothers—Shashank Koirala and Shekhar Koirala—however, for they have both been aiming for post of party president in the upcoming convention.[10]

On the same account, Bimalendra Nidhi, who is known for being in Deuba faction for a long time, announced that he would run for president too. His candidacy will cause a major shift in NC’s existing power equation.[11]

Nepali Congress condemned the attacks on and mistreatment of health workers.[12]

Miscellaneous: Considering the growing COVID-19 cases in the country and assessing the looming risk, the federal parliamentary committee has directed the government to arrange 10,000 ICUs and ventilators.[13]

The parliamentary committee has also asked the government to make necessary arrangement for the repatriation of Nepali labourers stranded overseas. The committee stressed the government should take care of the flight and quarantine/isolation expenses of those who are unable to pay for them.[14]

With the ruling NCP’s government failing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in an effective manner and the main opposition Nepali Congress failing to put pressure on the government and make them accountable, political parties have demonstrated a disappointing role during the ongoing health crisis. Both the parties failed to mobilize their party workers and representatives to help people at the local level and are instead preoccupied in their internal disputes.[15]


Flights to resume starting September 1: The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is preparing to resume international and domestic flights starting September 1. However, domestic flights will only recommence in mountain and hilly region as the Terai region is still seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases. Yogesh Bhattarai, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said that the government is reopening domestic flights as the festive season is soon approaching. International flights will only fly to those countries where PCR tests are readily available.[16]

Rastriya Banijya Bank Chairman Appointment: Upendra Kumar Koirala was appointed as the new chairman of Rastriya Banijya Bank (RBB). The decision to appoint him was made on August 24. An RBB Board of Directors meeting is set to take place on August 26 to appoint Koirala as the chairman officially. This comes as a controversial decision as Koirala is a close relative of the deputy prime minister. He has earlier been accused of corruption multiple times when he was a political appointee in several positions.[17]

Nepal Airlines Corporation evacuation flights: The evacuation flights to Kuwait to airlift stranded Nepalis is scheduled to fly on August 28. NAC has asked all the passengers to get their tickets revalidated from respective offices.[18] The flight was earlier scheduled for August 26 but was put on hold citing insufficient quarantine facilities.[19]

COVID-19 governance: Yubaraj Khatiwada, the government spokesperson and Minister of Finance, in a press meet said that the government decided not to hospitalize asymptomatic COVID-19 patients.[20] According to the cabinet decision on August 21, patients who have not shown symptoms will be asked to isolate themselves at home. This decision was triggered by the surge in the number of cases across the country, especially in the capital.

A seven-day quarantine period at a local hotel is mandatory for people returning from abroad.[21] The returnees will only be allowed to go home after confirming that they have not contracted the virus. A list of hotels that provide the quarantine facilities will soon be published.






















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