CIAA Commissioner Implicated in Corruption

News Analysis – June 2019

CESIF Nepal Thematic Areas 1 Comment

Summary

The US has been tightening its grip in the South Asian region alluring the countries with additional financial assistance. Nepal as a country in the South Asian region cannot remain unaffected of the US assertion and has already received a huge commitment under the MCC. However, Nepal should have a coherent foreign policy in projecting its national interests and agreeing to regional pacts and agreements including China’s BRI, India’s neighborhood policy, and Japan’s open and free Indo Pacific.

Change of guard very often and a short-lived coalition since the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1990 deterred peace and development. The people, in the recent elections, expressed their votes in support of political stability. The votes gave a majority to the newly formed NCP after the merger of erstwhile UML and Maoist Centre. As the party still struggles to complete the merger process, it has been well established that sustaining political stability would require cohesion within the Nepal Communist Party. Unfortunately, however, it seems to be failing due to internal feud among NCP leaders. This has hit all aspects of Nepal’s governance system, international relations, and has also deterred policy departure in terms of delivering services. The two-thirds majority government formed after decades of short-lived coalitions, which was expected to focus on peace and development, is missing those goals every moment.[1]

The withdrawal of the Guthi Bill following massive protests and not having much to boast of the recent Europe tour, the Prime Minister seems to have been losing his aura; at the same time weakening him, pushing him to be defensive, and scared of losing power anytime.[2]

The fiasco behind the IIFA awards is another setback to Oli’s government which has been backtracking on many occasions for not holding consultations with partners. The government has been facing the same fate on many controversial ideas including the Guthi Bill, the Media Council Bill, and many more.[3] The successful hosting of the IIFA awards would have benefitted the prime minister in utilizing the platform to profess closer ties with India, but this dream has currently come undone with the cancellation. Many in the ruling party have seen Chairman Dahal behind the cancellation of IIFA in Kathmandu, while others believe that it happened because PM Oli has developed a habit of acting unilaterally. Various recent decisions, taken in rush without any assessment of the in-house mechanism to deliver, defend, and execute has degraded the trust on the government with each passing day. 

Amid the current diplomatic situation of Nepal, the country is trying to balance its relations with its neighbors and the western powers by making efforts to stand by its commitments. The changing political and economic way of engagements of India, China, and the US in Nepal has created a situation where Nepal has to officially organize the dialogue giving importance to all three countries. It was a smart diplomatic move of Nepal to have a foreign policy orientation when it is struggling to engage with China, India, and the US simultaneously. Nepali leaders maintained their neutral positions during the event by stating Nepal’s foreign policies to be pro-Nepal, keeping its national interests in the center.

Despite the change in governance structure, from unitary to federal, the budget expenditure trend remains unchanged as most of the capital expenses happen around the end of the fiscal year, during the monsoon. The recurrent expenditure would always be exhausted despite the minimal capital expenditure. The upsurge in capital expenditure towards the last months of the fiscal year remains a regular phenomenon. A policy departure, on improving the expenditure pattern with the recurrent expenditure tied up with the capital expenses and early start of the procurement process is yet to be practiced in the country, without which the country’s dreams of sustainable growth and prosperity shall remain unfulfilled.

Likewise, the troubled relations between the outlawed Biplab party and the government remains unchanged. Talking about forceful containment of the outlawed party and tagging them as terrorists would mean endangering peace rather than sustaining it. The former Maoist party who is now in the ruling party, no one else other than them would understand it better. The actions of the government in this regard is much of personal ego in between the home minister and leader of the outlawed party. The government should justify its intention on banning a party in a competitive multiparty democracy that the country has been practicing for three decades now. At the same time, the revolutionary force should also make its space in the open political culture that the country is in recent years. The government, specifically, some of the leaders, may have vested interest fulfilled from the vengeful relations, but there is no way that either the country or the countrymen would support an armed struggle once again. The government should take heed not to fuel one. No to securitization and aggression yes to talks and negotiations for peace should be the way forward.

International Relations

A.1 US Aid Diplomacy

US-Nepal relations became a topic of public debate as the US began to pursue an aggressive foreign policy and the Indo-Pacific Strategy. At the center of the debate was the question about whether Nepal had become part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy after signing the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact program.

Nepal tried to evade from US assertions in May that the compact, under which Nepal availed credit of US $500 million for a transmission line, was being implemented under the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. As he returned from the US in early June, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali said that the Compact and the Indo-Pacific Strategy were two different things. Earlier, senior US officials repeatedly said that Compact was an example of how the Indo-Pacific Strategy played out in real terms.[4] On June 1, the US government published an Indo-Pacific Strategy report[5] which said that the US was seeking to expand its defense relationship with Nepal under the strategy. Chinese media attempted to reflect the opinion of Nepali politicians saying that Nepal had no interest in US strategy to contain China.[6]

In a bid to strengthen the Indo Pacific Strategy, the Trump administration has announced additional financial assistance to South Asian countries. An additional USD 30 million has been allocated for the South Asian countries—Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, —and the Maldives under the ‘Bay of Bengal’ security initiative as foreign military financing in addition to USD 64 million that the US committed earlier. The sub-committee of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the US Interests in South Asia and the FY 2020 Budget on June 13. The US is doubling its fund to USD 468 million for 2020 for South Asia’s economic and regional assistance. Alice G Wells, a senior State Department official for South Asia, said the US along with India, Japan, Australia, and other trusted allies will work together for economic and political autonomy of IPS.[7]

As the US and China pursue aggressive diplomacy, Nepal is likely to face more pressure in its efforts to balance the interests of the US, China, and India. The US pressure on Nepal regarding North Korea and the deportation of a US national, Penpa Tsering, highlight this dilemma.

The US raised concerns about increased North Korean activities in Nepal including business and cyber-related crimes; Mark Lambert, the special US envoy for North Korea, asked the government and politicians in Nepal to respect the UN sanctions.[8] Other US officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary David J Ranz, had also raised the issue in the past.[9] The US objected strongly to Nepal’s deportation of Penpa Tsering, a US national visiting Nepal, on suspicion of being a Tibetan activist on June 24. Tshering was refused entry into Nepal on June 22 on the grounds that his name was on China’s most-wanted list, and the Chinese authorities had requested Nepal to stop his entry. However, it was discovered later that it was a case of mistaken identity.[10] In a statement, a US Embassy spokesperson asked, “whether US citizens seeking to enter Nepal will be subject to clearance from other foreign governments?”[11]

By the end of the month, Oli appeared clearly miffed by the US, saying Nepal did not welcome diplomatic excesses that affected Nepal’s independence and sovereignty.[12]

A.2 PM’s Europe Tour

PM KP Sharma Oli’s Europe visit failed to live up to its hype and was termed a “meaningless effort” even before it started.[13]PM Oli left for the eight-day trip to Europe on June 8 aiming to boost economic relations with the European countries. Oli left for the tour after the government presented its budget, policy, and program for the next fiscal year. The PM attended the centennial program of the International Labour Organization followed by a program at the Oxford University Union. He met British PM Theresa May and the Norwegian prime minister.[14] At the Oxford Union Oli claimed that Nepal had “established the foundation for a non-discriminatory, inclusive, and participatory democracy for socio-economic transformation,’ but his assertions were refuted back home.[15] Political developments back home forced Oli to refer to debates back home about the transfer of power.[16]

The PM proposed a review of the 1947 tripartite agreement between the UK, India, and Nepal regarding the Nepalis serving in the British and the Indian army. Though Pradeep Gyawali confirmed Oli’s discussion with outgoing PM Theresa May on the subject, the Gurkha leaders were unsure about Oli making any proposal to the UK, as it wasn’t mentioned in the statement issued by 10 Downing Street.[17] PM Oli later said that the British did not agree to his proposal so it was not included in the statement.[18]

A.4 India

Narendra Modi’s second stint as the prime minister of India started on May 30, with Nepal’s PM K P Oli attending the ceremony. Modi’s re-election and the subsequent appointment of S Jaishanker as the Minister of Foreign Affairs created a sense of deja vu for many Nepalis,[19] who remember Jaishanker as the Indian envoy who attempted to stop the Nepali constitution from being promulgated in September 2015. When NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba sent a congratulatory message to Jaishanker, he was soundly rebuked.[20]However, India is likely to have a say in Nepal’s relations to China and BRI, and Jaishanker’s appointment in the South Block has raised the possibility of China and India working closely together.[21] It also signals India’s shift to BIMSTEC as a strategy for conducting India’s neighborhood diplomacy.[22]PM Oli, meanwhile, has continued to make calls for the implementation of the Eminent Persons’ Group’s Report.[23] PM Oli said that Nepal wants to create an environment so that the EPG can submit its report to Nepal and India. Constantino Xavier, a research scholar with Brookings India said “Delhi shouldn’t fear the debate” and should “make the report public.”[24]A new Railway Service Agreement allows Nepal to operate cargo rail up to Indian harbors.[25] In a new trade agreement between Nepal and India, Nepal Railway Company will use its own cargo to import from third countries, extending the railway service by adding Dhamra and Mundra ports in Odisha and Gujarat respectively. The railway cargo service will also reach Bhairahawa apart from Biratnagar. There has been an agreement to also permit the private sector in the transit trade.[26] Sources in the Indian government said that India has finalized and submitted the ‘pre-engineering and traffic survey report’ of Raxaul-Kathmandu railway to Nepal. The report said, the DPR will take 2 years and the construction would take another 5 years for construction of the.[27] Nepal and India completed the laying of the pipeline between Amlekhganj and Motihari of India.[28] Nepal and Bangladesh are eager to cooperate and trade in energy, for which a power-trade agreement was signed with India in 2014. Bangladesh, in particular, is looking to buy electricity from the Karnali hydroelectric project currently being developed by GMR.[29]

Indian Ambassador for Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri handed over a cheque of Rs 1600 crores to the secretary at the Ministry of Finance Dr. Rajan Khanal to support 50,000 beneficiaries in Nuwakot and Gorkha for post-earthquake reconstruction. The government of India partnered with UNDP and UNOPS to provide socio-technical assistance to rebuild shelters in Gorkha and Nuwakot districts.[30] India increased the allocation for Nepal from an actual disbursement of Rs 376.61 crore in 2017-18 to an estimated Rs 1,050 crore in 2019-20 – a boost of 178%.[31]

Despite strained relations following the Indian blockade in 2015, the increment in grants and assistance, trade facilitation, and progress in Raxaul-Kathmandu railways have been symbolic as India’s attempt to win the heart of Nepalis. However, the row regarding the import of vegetables and fruits on the pretext of heavy use of pesticides seems to have disheartened the Nepalis en masse.

A.5 Nepal-China-US

The US will become a major factor in determining to what extent India and China can work together in Nepal.[32] Nepal is simply being ignored in most of the world forum. This could be an indication of the Oli regime losing the frame.

Nepal was not a part of the recent Boao forum. Likewise, Nepal, a dialogue partner, was not invited to the 19th summit for Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that was held on 13-14 of June in Kyrgyzstan.[33] The summit was a key to deepen interaction between regions, strengthen fight against drug trafficking, and establish cooperation in information technologies, environmental protection, health care, and sports’.[34]

China hosted the China-South Asia Media Forum on June 11 to integrate ‘stronger media cooperation for the people-to-people exchange’ in Yuxi city. During the event, Madhav Sharma, press advisor to Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari, said Nepali and Chinese media should address the national interest servicing public rather than fulfilling exclusive interests. Krishna Murari Bhandary, executive chairman of Gorkhapatra Corporation of Nepal, said South Asia depends too much on foreign media for any global and regional issue and that the South Asian media should have their own perspectives.[35] Nepal’s envoy to China, Leela Mani Poudyal said Nepal seeks China’s help to promote access to the Chinese market by transferring technologies and enhancing production capacity.[36]

Nepal, a dialogue partner of SCO along with countries like Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Azerbaijan, was excluded from an invitation for the SCO summit this June. Russia and China share an interest to curb the Indo-Pacific strategy in Nepal and have found themselves combining their deterrence strategy.[37] 

Upendra Yadav’s Federal Socialist Party (FSP) has suspended one of its members of the federal parliament, Pradip Yadav, for taking part in an event supporting Free Tibet movement in Latvia.[38] Party insiders said the party had come under immense pressure from China.

On an incident over China restricting entry of Humlis in Tibet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to authorities of China for easy access of Humla residents to Taklakot in China. Nepali authorities requested China to ensure a suitable working environment for them as well. However, Nepal has not mentioned anything about the incident regarding a Nepali man who was arrested for murdering a Chinese woman following which China prohibited Nepalis to enter the region.[39] Following the request, Chinese authorities eased the entry.[40]

On the ‘One China Policy’, Nepal remains firm. The event of suspension of lawmakers from their party is a gallant example of Chinese pressure in the country. 

From not having provided any form of documentation to Tibetans for the past twenty years,  their areas in Nepal under surveillance, to now even deporting a so-called Tibetan agent, Nepal is on a path to be dubbed as China’s ‘client state’. However, there still remains some hope that the Nepali leadership will be able to draw lines between Nepal’s security and strategic vis a vis upholding of human rights.

Nepal has historically been a tolerant space which has recognized and respected Dalai Lama’s spiritual presence and has even had a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to hand over all illegal Tibetan refugees to the UNHCR.

The deportation of Penpa Tsering indicates that China now occupies a decision-making space in Nepal. Nepal must exercise caution in its efforts to please the northern neighbor as rash decisions and actions may lead to a serious transgression with its partner countries.

Further, while at one end the US asserts the IPS strategy. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an attempt to increase alienation from the US. The recent SCO Summit in Bishkek saw scope for greater cooperation between China, Russia, and India. If the three countries make serious advancements in negotiations, Nepal a country which has often claimed to be ‘a yam between two boulders’ could stand to benefit from the two mammoth economies next door.

Nepal in ‘a tripod’ relation with India and China falls in the influence of the US-India-China-Russia quadrangle. The Indo-US alignment (through the IPS) and China-Russia partnership have also been very optic.

On the backdrop, Nepal needs to devise a policy to present Nepal’s national interests, particularly economic, and consider them rather than aligning on this side or that side. Nepal streamlined its foreign policy objectives around the economic agenda. The recently conducted dialogue is a stepping stone towards the same.

Nepal organized ‘national dialogue on foreign policy’ to formulate Nepal’s foreign policies on the 29th of June. The Foreign Ministry proposed fine-tuning of Nepal’s foreign policy to realize the goal of prosperous Nepal and happy Nepali.[41] The dialogue was first of its kind after the current ruling government came into power. This dialogue program aimed to clarify Nepal’s potential to rightly fit in current world situation.[42]

A.6 BRI

China has confirmed that Bangladesh is a part of the BRI.  There were doubts as Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar-Economic Corridor (BCIM) did not appear on 35 corridors mentioned during the 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in April.

The information released in the red book on June 4, states that China will be providing a grant amounting USD 2 billion for either cross-border railway or two internal railway links. It is not yet clear on which projects the grant will be spent.[43]

The trade imbalance with China is growing after the opening of the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung transit. While imports from the transit have more than doubled in the last year to Rs 43.24 billion, Nepal’s export has dropped 25% to Rs 1.16 billion.[44]

The widening trade gap between Nepal and China is a concerning issue. Although trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity including cross border rails was part of the joint communique, no allocation of budget for the rails, except a grant from China in the upcoming budget, indicates a low level of commitment from Nepal.  With the increasing trade imbalance with China, it is high time that the government kick-started export-oriented businesses in the country. Or else the futuristic connectivity will be of no meaning in terms of trade, and the country fails to capitalize the shift from landlocked to land-linked after China allowed Nepal to reach to third countries through their seaports.

B. Security and Strategic Affairs

B.1 Biplab

The outlawed outfit seems to have strengthened to carry out armed aggression against the state.

NCP (Biplab) spokesman Khadak Bahadur Bishowkarma (Prakanda) informed through a press release that Padam Rai of his party has joined the ruling NCP. [45]

Kathmandu district in-charge Maila Lama absconded after bomb blasts in Kathmandu that killed four Biplab cadres and injured seven others. Nepal police is on his hunt and later arrested Motidhan Rai, Bhupendra Gharti, Bindu Kumari Kuekela, and Sandhya Devi Pun.[46]

Reports claimed that the party operated sudden and suspicious activities in Solukhumbu district. Security agencies claimed that 20-25 Biplab cadres attacked and tried to take control of the police post of Chheskam village of Mahakulung Rural Municipality-3.[47]

On June 25, unidentified people set two ward offices in Dhakari and Panchadebal Binayak municipalities on fire. An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated at the liaison of the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project on June 8. Police suspect involvement of the Netra Bikram Chand-led Biplab Party behind these attacks.[48]

Four cadres of Biplab-led CPN fired at the police during a chase. In retaliation, Sarlahi, district in-charge of the CPN, Kumar Poudel was killed on the spot while three others fled the scene.[49]

A team of metropolitan police crime division and Kathmandu police arrested Biplab party cadre and film producer Nara Bahadur Karki. [50] Police also arrested NCP-Biplab cadre Kansa Dhimal, convicted for looting Rs. 7.50 million from a bank 10 years ago. Police confiscated two automatic pistols, four magazines, and 14 rounds of bullets from him.[51] Likewise, police arrested cadres from Rukum district. The arrested are secretary of Triveni rural municipality, Chhabi Lal Dharti, Bibek B.K, Dirgha Raj Gahatraj, and Gorkhe Kami.[52] Another Binod Sonam has also been arrested. [53]

Continuing with recent trends, there has been an increase in explosions, bomb hoaxes, life threats to elected representatives, cross-firing with government security personnel, and other activities including a general strike. The incidents have indicated at another armed struggle in the offing. However, it all connects to feuds in the NCP in dealing with the outlawed party. The home minister, with subtle unseen support from the prime minister, is all for a forceful containment, which will be a wrong course of action, as Nepal’s recent political history of Maoist insurgency suggests the same.

C. Gender, inclusion, human rights, and press freedom

C.1 Civic Space and Press Freedom

One after the other, the Bills that the government tabled have caused a widespread uproar among stakeholders. Controversial bills created tensions in the federal parliament as more than half dozen controversial bills are registered in the federal parliament.[54] Protesting the Media Council Bill, the Federation of Nepali Journalist (FNJ) announced the third phase of protest against it. FNJ carried out a signature collection campaign against the Bill[55] and collected signatures of 20,000 journalists. The list has been forwarded to the PM’s office through respective CDOs of 77 districts.[56]

Opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba claimed that the people will dismiss this government as it did the Rana rule and Monarchy if it goes against the democratic system, curtail civil liberties, freedom of expression, and intervene in the NHRC.[57]

On upholding human rights, farmers who were unable to pay back the loans of the landlords were mired into the never-ending circle of bonded laborers, fell into the category of Haliyas and Kamaiyas. This was in practice in the far west region of Nepal. [58] This system was abolished on paper, though there are few who still practice it. In order to uphold the rights of Haliyas, the government provided financial support to provide them with pieces of land. However, some families are surviving in poverty with no land, while some are back to the same practice again. In Jajarkot only, 202 Dalit Haliyas are still landless. Their life has not changed, and they still depend on labor.[59]  In the last fiscal year, Rs. 3.89 billion budget was set aside to complete the rehabilitation work for Kamaiyas and Haliyas.[60]However, it needs a comprehensive empowerment package, including re-establishment amenities so that they don’t have to go back to the practice again.

However, amidst criticism, Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, Minister of Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs claimed that the government brought the NHRC Bill as per Nepal’s Constitution.[61]

The ruling party and the main opposition are stuck to their stance on those Bills. The Media Council Bill for the past few months and the Guthi Bill recently have become a bone of contention for the political parties. When Prime Minister Oli was addressing the Oxford Union during his tour, confirming his belief in democracy and freedom of speech as crucial element for a country to prosper, journalists and human rights activists back home were demonstrating in Kathmandu, pressing for withdrawal of Press Council Bill and Information and Press Bill and use of force against the peaceful protesters against the Guthi Bill, in an ironic turn of events.

Following criticism, the government dropped the Guthi Bill from the National Assembly. This put the government at a tight spot with regards to many other contested bills, including the Media Council Bill. Civil society, journalists, and opposition parties have also demanded the withdrawal of the controversial NHRC Act. The past decisions of the government remain futile in human rights in the country.

C.2 The Guthi Bill

The NCP government has learned a lesson that a two-thirds majority government does not mean that the voters have submitted to every move of the government, right or wrong.

On the last week of April, the Guthi bill was registered in the National Assembly. Nepali Congress obstructed the HoR proceeding against the government amendment on the Bill.[62] As per article 23 and 24, all trustee rights would be immediately terminated once the Bill is enacted. There are more than 2,335 public guthis under the Guthi Sansthan-a government corporation that manages them.

When the PM was wandering in Europe, massive protests in Kathmandu was going on against the government’s move to control Guthi through the new legislation. Kathmandu valley Newars warned of a shut down if the government did not withdraw or revise the bill.[63]

As the contested bill propelled massive protest in Kathmandu, riot police used water cannons and charged batons to disperse cultural experts, heritage conservationists, locals, and stakeholders.[64]

However, lawmakers of the ruling party also criticized the bill. Lawmaker Pampha Bhusal and Anjana Bishankhe criticized it at the parliament meeting on June 10.[65] Lawmakers from NC and RJP-N also demanded the withdrawal of the Bill. NC lawmaker Prakash Man Singh said the bill was against the spirit of Nepal’s Constitution while RJP-N lawmaker Anil Kumar Jha urged the government to go for a comprehensive consultation with stakeholders.[66] Even if some leaders are in favor of the bill, most of the former Maoist leaders are critical of the government’s stance.[67]

Rastriya Prajatantra Party (United) co-chairs Pashupati Sumsher JBR and Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani said they would go for street protest if the government didn’t withdraw the bill which represents Hindu and Buddhist cultures.[68]

At a press conference in Chitwan, Chairman NCP co-chair Prachanda made a face-saving remark that the government will go for a consultation with the stakeholders and make revisions on both the Media and Guthi bills.[69] After widespread criticism, the government signaled a revision in the Bills. [70]

The protest in Kathmandu, against the legislation to regulate the Guthis, did not only press the government to withdraw but also taught a lesson to be cautious on such matters in the future.

C.3 Transitional Justice

As the government intentionally delays the transitional justice process, an issue has gone to the High Commissioners Office in Geneva indicating an international pressure in the days to come.

Former child soldier Lenin Bista filed an application at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva demanding justice for the thousands of child soldiers during the Maoist insurgency. Earlier, in the second week of April, he filed a similar petition with Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in Belgium.[71] Among the 4,008 disqualified combatants, 2,973 minors were disqualified during the verification process conducted by the United Nation Mission in Nepal in 2007. They didn’t receive any substantial support, except for a few thousand rupees from the UN.[72]

Likewise, at home, on June 10, the meeting of Transitional Justice Recommendation Committee failed to finalize the names of nominees for the two transitional justice bodies. The next meeting on June 23 turned futile as well.[73]

Transitional Justice Recommendation Committee meeting has been postponed again. Om Prakash-led committee failed once again to nominate the names of office-bearers for the two justice commissions, TRC and CIEDP. Political bargaining and power-sharing remain the reason behind the delay in deciding the leadership. [74] 

Families of martyrs, injured, and disappeared persons during the decade-long insurgency in Province 2 accused local government province of discriminatory behavior while distributing different facilities. They warned of agitation in all eight districts of the province if their demands are not met. A total of 28 persons lost their lives during the Maoist conflict in the district while seven persons are still missing. But the provincial government is only focusing on the families who lost their close ones in Madhesh agitation.[75]

Nepal government failing to complete the fulfillment of positions in the justice bodies will allow playing field for the international community. The government, in consensus with the opposition and the war victims, should sort the deadlock out at the earliest possible for a respectful position for the country with regards to transitional justice.

C.4 Tharuhat Movement

Tharuhat movement is catching momentum once again as they have increased their preparatory activities for the National Summit in August. Tharu leader Laxman Tharu is traveling across districts meeting political leaders and activists to make the summit successful. However, Tharu Welfare Society is turning away from the movement saying that the summit will create disharmony among communities.

After the Tikapur Incident, the Tharu activists remained silent until the release of Laxman Tharu. The movement, however, may be failing due to lack of coordination among leaders and leading organizations. 

Further, lawmaker Resham Chaudhary, convicted of Tikapur killings, was seen chained while receiving treatment at Bir Hospital. The picture on social media received innumerable flack, forcing PM Oli to instruct the police to remove the shackles.[76]1.  Leaders, including former PM Baburam Bhattarai, Rajendra Mahato, Tharu activist, and actress Rekha Thapa, visited the hospital and decried the inhuman treatment. Leader Mahantha Thakur said the extreme mindset of the rulers in Kathmandu towards Madhesh, Tharus, and indigenous people is yet to change even after repeated protests and movements.[77] A lawmaker, though convicted, cannot be chained on a hospital bed is a shameful act and shows the government’s bias against the minority.

C.5 Employee Recruitment

The employee recruitment process for local governments as per a vacancy announcement of the Public Service Commission moved ahead as per plan after facing a few hiccups.

Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee ordered the cancellation of the hiring process that the Public Service Commission recently announced for recruitment of staffers in the local governments. The committee claimed that the announcement was against the principle of inclusion and the constitution. The committee directed the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration to consider principles of inclusion in all of its recruitment processes.[78]

Following widespread criticism, both the ruling party and opposition parties spoke against the hiring process claiming that it violated the provisions of the Constitution.[79]

A joint student struggle warned the government to correct the vacancy notice of the Public Service Commission with due consideration principle of inclusion.[80]

A recent Supreme Court decision stamped a go-ahead for the PSC on its recruitment plan. The rule of law is a key to liberal democracy, which has been upheld in this case. Article 227 of the Constitution provisions reservation quotas for marginalized groups in Public Service Commission recruitments. The parliamentary committee advised the commission to withhold the process. However, the court’s decision gave a go-ahead. The provinces have been deprived of the constitutional rights of employment recruitment as provincial public service commission is yet to be formed for lack of relevant bills which is being discussed.

C6. Demographic Dilemma

Data received from the United Nations has indicated that the current population of 28.6 million in 2019 will reach 36.45 million in 2053, but will decline to 27.3 million by the end of the century. Declining fertility and rising life expectancy will affect health, education, social security, labor market, and economic growth of the country due to decreased labor force participation. Further, a study in 2017, found that 117 boys were born for every 100 girls.[81] It shows an increase in sex-selective abortion in the past few years. The skewed boy-girl ratio, though the effect is not visible immediately, has unwarranted consequences such as partner crisis and sexual violence against both men and women. When gender ratio gets imbalanced, its outcome almost always affects the next generation, causing a direct impact on the country’s population, which will ultimately present a threat to the stability and security of the country.

Last month Province 2 State Minister for Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment Suresh Mandal assisted and paid for a wedding of a 14-year-old girl Dalit girl from Siraha. This is not the first time that he has done it. He has been endorsing by saying that helping and paying for the wedding ceremony for poor Dalits is not a crime. The minister has weakened the Save Daughter, Educate Daughter campaign of the provincial government.[82]

A UNICEF report on child marriage among boys ranked Nepal tenth highest and is the only country in South Asia with a major prevalence of child marriages among both boys and girls. Globally, 115 million boys and men were married before age 18.[83]

The impact on child groom hinders not only their childhood but forces them to take responsibilities which they may not be aware of and not be prepared.[84] Even the child grooms experience a lot of complications similar to child brides. Child marriage destroys their future- both boys and girls.

Despite international commitments, the government failed to bring about changes. The government should enhance awareness programs on the consequences of children’s future, especially in the Terai as the practice is still booming. With more research, investment, dedication, and empowerment from the government, impetus could be created in ending the practice.

D. Democracy and Federalism

D.1 NCP feud

Factional politics is on the rise in NCP party and hindered the merger which eventually shall hit the long-awaited political stability in the country.

Nine senior leaders are protecting their group interests in the party. PM Oli leads a group with committed members and has home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa as the newcomer.[85] 

During an event organized to commemorate the death of former communist leader Madan Bhandari, Pushpa Kamal Dahal indicated he had been assassinated by foreign forces. Dahal implied he was under a similar threat.[86]

During the event, Dahal also said there would be no power transfer outside NCP. “NC should not dream that NCP will split and it will get a chance,” he said adding that NCP’s failure would tantamount to the nation’s failure. He implied that any tussle for power was internal.[87]

NCP discussed the name of in-charge and co-in-charge of the district committee. The party formed central, provincial, and relation coordination committee, sister wings of Madhes Committee and also formed international coordination committee.[88]

The party is yet to finalize the head of the party organization department. Both co-chairs want their person as head of the department. Leader Bamdev Gautam is the top contender for the post.[89] 

Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal claimed that he will be the next prime minister on the basis of 5-point agreement in between him and PM Oli.[90] Both Chairs met to discuss the power-sharing issue after the agreement surfaced on social media.[91]

Senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, claiming ignorance of the agreement, urged that the government should operate for five years. [92]

A meeting of the central secretariat of NCP on June 4 ended inconclusively. The meeting held to finalize the work division of central committee members chose the head of various party departments as well as full-size and division of politburo members.[93] The issue of contention was one leader one responsibility rule or otherwise.[94]   

District committees are gradually taking full shape. Morang formed its district committee with 185 members led by Rishikesh Pokharel (former UML) and Secretary Ganesh Upreti from erstwhile Maoist Center.[95]

The rift in the party was a reason behind the government’s announcement that Kathmandu will not be hosting the 2019 International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards. The decision did not come in response to resounding public and political discontent. Instead, the IIFA awards became a pawn in the ongoing power struggle within the ruling party. As such is the case, the rift among leaders will affect all government actions not only the ones not in the interest of the country but all those which are in the interest of the country too.

D.2 Opposition Politics

Nepali Congress, the key opposition is weakening further waning hope of the people.

Nepali Congress seems to be weakening further with politics of faction, sub-factions, and groups as seen in the ongoing nationwide awareness program.[96]

NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba claimed that NC will start a movement to uproot the Communist as it did with the Ranas, the Panchayat, and the Monarchy.[97]

NC registered a public importance proposal at the federal parliament over labor agreement with Malaysia and the subsequent withholding of employment migration.[98]

Samajbadi Party Nepal, which was seen as an alternative is breaking when it was just starting to build. The party has been using tools of threat against the government but in vain.

Samajbadi Party Nepal co-chairs Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Yadav charged the government of seriously not considering an amendment in the constitution as per their demands. The party indicated at withdrawal from the government and going for street protests against the government.[99]

The party also criticized the Public Service Commission on its recent recruitment announcement.

RJP-N and Samajbadi Party Nepal, leaders, Rajendra Mahato, and Upendra Yadav discussed reshuffling Province 2 government.  Despite the ongoing discussion, RJP-N is yet not ready to join the Samajbadi party.[100] Both parties have claimed that a new alternative force should replace the traditional parties and informally discuss party merger. [101]

RJP-N also started talks with various ethnic parties for the revival of identity movement. The party leaders discussed with Tarai Tharuhat party and Kumar Lingden-led Limbuwan Party. [102]

With all the developments going on the fringe parties around mergers and getting stronger, there is a chance of strong alternative political force rising in Nepal’s political domain. Samajbadi-RJP-N is making a bid towards that end. However, there is a decision awaited from the parties.

Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-United, Pashupati Sumsher JBR Rana said that they will go for street movements for restoration of Hindu state. He claimed that as 81% of Nepalis are Hindu and 94% belong to Omkar family, the restoration is possible without foreign support.[103] Similarly, Kamal Thapa of Rastriya Prajatantra Party announced the start of second Rashtriya Swabhiman Abhiyan from Mustang. Thapa also called for roundtable conference accommodating the former king and Biplab for ensuring peace and political stability. [104]

Fringe parties continue to carry out activities to show their presence in support of the agenda of restoration of Hinduism while some have reckoning a need of merger amongst themselves and making their presence felt.

D. 3 Governance, Budget, and Economy

The rampant anomalies towards the end of the fiscal year remained characteristic of Nepal’s budget expenditure system this fiscal year as well. The expenditure on facilities including vehicles for officials topped the expenditure list.

Karnali Pradesh took a controversial decision of purchasing 54 four-wheelers by allocating a budget of over Rs. two billion from the development budget. The government already bought 42 four-wheelers and plans to buy 12 more. The government will also purchase 10 ambulances at a cost of Rs 150 million.[105]

The Ministry of Women, Children, and Senior Citizens started the President Women Uplift Program in 30 districts from the current fiscal year 2018/19. Minister for Women, Children, and Senior Citizens, Tham Maya Thapa said that grant amounting to Rs 305.5 million has been provided to 47 groups and organizations run by women in order to assist them in operating agriculture, tourism, livestock, and skilled–based enterprises. The minister also informed that the program will be expanded to 55 districts in the upcoming fiscal year.[106]

Local women from Mahakali Municipality are working on the construction of Mahakali River embankment for the past three months. The construction work is commissioned mostly to women to make them economically strong and not to seek monetary support from their family.[107]

After unveiling its budget, Province 2 brought forward the idea of developing cultural cities. The government also announced the development of Madhes-Mithila Artist Center and including Mithila Art in school textbooks.[108]

The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) disrupted provincial assembly meeting of Province 3 claiming that the budget announced for 2019-20 was distributive and not inclusive.[109]

The provinces in their budget have prioritized agriculture, physical infrastructure, education, and tourism sectors and industrial sectors.[110] A campaign ‘Healthy Life Programme’ aimed at enhancing access to health facilities has been introduced in Province 1.[111]

The government transferred more than Rs 5 billion under budget heads at the end of the current fiscal year. The government made the transfer to pay motivational allowances to government officials and overtime wages to customs officials. Almost every year, the finance ministry allows large budget transfer in headings at the end of the fiscal year. The government also spent a huge sum to fund official visits to foreign countries this year.

Despite the announcement of a few new initiatives, the budget followed the same old trend of being distributive rather than focusing on something substantial in line with the government’s ‘Prosperous Nepal-Happy Nepali’ agenda. The expenditure trend, towards the end of the fiscal and around monsoon season, remains a challenge. The government needs to break the trend and implement projects timely.

D.4 Judicial sector/corruption

In recent months, stories of increasing corruption, distortion, and various other malpractices in the judiciary became quite regular.

Advocate Narayan Prasad Duwadi, chairman, Independent National Law Professionals Campaign demanded screening of academic certificates of all judges and justices.[112] The CIAA has been refusing to provide the Supreme Court with the case files and the decision to prosecute former minister Gobinda Raj Joshi since the last five years. In its latest decision, the Supreme Court has asked the CIAA to submit the decision and case files within 15 days.[113]


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[2] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/oli-s-missed-opportunities/

[3] https://www.setopati.com/politics/185354

[4] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/millennium-challenge-corporation-compact-programme-united-states-indo-pacific-strategy-not-linked/

[5] https://media.defense.gov/2019/May/31/2002139210/-1/-1/1/DOD_INDO_PACIFIC_STRATEGY_REPORT_JUNE_2019.PDF?fbclid=IwAR2Ux7XV6qNny9RdIi-Bc0CdN4baYN3IVTkq1qcvNk1NGomJT5XW6lUUxX0

[6] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-06/10/c_138131578.htm

[7] https://www.wionews.com/world/eye-on-china-us-government-seeks-more-funding-from-congress-to-bolster-bay-of-bengal-military-security-226703

[8] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/us-concerned-about-north-korean-activities/

[9]https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/us-raises-concern-over-increasing-north-korean-activities-in-nepal/articleshow/69800241.cms

[10]  https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/man-labelled-dalai-lamas-agent-deported-to-us/

[11] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/american-embassy-seeks-clarification/

[12] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/06/30/156185762386068825.html

[13] https://www.bbc.com/nepali/news-48572511

[14] https://www.nepal24hours.com/investment-issues-to-feature-during-pms-visit-to-britain-france/

[15] https://setopati.net/political/147717

[16] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/06/11/156022272143831829.html

[17] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/06/12/oli-proposed-a-review-of-the-1947-tripartite-pact-in-meeting-with-theresa-may-foreign-minister-says

[18] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/uk-did-not-accept-proposal-says-prime-minister-kp-sharma-oli/

[19] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/opinion/2019/06/02/155944103126457471.html

[20] https://setopati.net/political/147549

[21] https://theannapurnaexpress.com/news/india-not-letting-go-easily-1657

[22] https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/06/04/modi-reimagines-indias-role-in-the-world/

[23] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/06/30/156185762386068825.html

[24] https://twitter.com/ConstantinoX/status/1144837940868108288

[25] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/business/2019/06/09/15600478269512875.html

[26]https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-09/nepali-trains-to-transport-cargo-to-biratnagar-and-birgunj-from-kolkata.html

[27]https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-09/raxaul-kathmandu-rail-survey-report-is-ready-indian-officials-say.html

[28] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/06/24/156135622406876625.html

[29] https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/second-nepal-bangladesh-jsc-meeting-begins/

[30] https://www.nepal24hours.com/india-hands-over-rs-1-6-billion-to-nepal-for-post-quake-reconstruction/

[31] https://thewire.in/diplomacy/budget-mea-foreign-policy-charts/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

[32] https://www.theindiaforum.in/article/can-india-and-china-escape-their-recent-history-and-shape-their-engagement-better

[33] https://www.rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-hosts-shanghai-cooperation-organization-summit/29999408.html

[34] http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2019-06/12/content_74878366.htm

[35] https://www.nepal24hours.com/china-calls-for-fair-information-order/

[36] https://www.nepal24hours.com/nepals-envoy-urges-chinas-favour-to-reduce-trade-deficit/

[37] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-06-08/shanghai-meet-to-go-ahead-without-nepal.html

[38] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/18054/2019-06-25

[39] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/china-urged-to-let-nepalis-work-in-taklakot/

[40] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/after-a-brief-pause-chinese-authorities-allow-humla-residents-to-reenter-tibet.html

[41] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/national-dialogue-on-foreign-policy/

[42] https://mofa.gov.np/remarks-by-minister-for-foreign-affairs-hon-mr-pradeep-kumar-gyawali-at-the-national-dialogue-on-foreign-policy/

[43] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-07/china-pledges-rs-2-billion-in-grant-for-railways-but-where-will-it-go.html

[44] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-30/imports-continue-to-surge-via-rasuwagadhi-kerung-customs-point.html

[45] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128749

[46] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128772

[47] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-03/police-send-reinforcements-to-solukhumbu-village-after-chand-partys-suspicious-activities.html

[48] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-07-03/peoples-representatives-concerned-over-incidents-of-blasts-arsons.html

[49] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/sarlahi-district-incharge-of-biplav-led-cpn-killed-in-cross-firing/

[50] https://setopati.net/political/148768

[51] https://setopati.net/political/148783

[52] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/four-leaders-of-biplav-group-arrested/

[53] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/biplav-group-s-lamjung-secretary-held/

[54] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/controversial-bills-set-to-flare-up-tensions-at-house.html

[55] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/fnj-unveils-new-protest-against-media-bill/

[56]http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-21/after-guthi-bill-pressure-mounts-on-government-to-withdraw-the-media-council-bill.html

[57] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/sher-bahadur-deuba-threatens-to-topple-government/

[58] http://www.csrcnepal.org/pages/details/campaign/haliyarightscampaign

[59]http://annapurnapost.com/news/128728

[60] https://mof.gov.np/uploads/document/file/speech_english_20180715091522.pdf

[61] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/bill-to-amend-nhrc-act-in-accordance-with-constitutional-provisions-minister-of-law-justice-and-parliamentary-affairs-bhanu-bhakta-dhakal/

[62] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/opposition-obstructs-house-protesting-governments-use-of-force-against-guthi-bill-protesters.html

[63] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-12/with-guthi-bill-government-wants-to-exploit-ancient-customs-for-money-locals-say.html

[64] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/police-use-force-against-those-protesting-guthi-bill.html

[65] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-12/controversial-bills-draw-criticism-from-ruling-party-lawmakers.html

[66] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nc-rjpn-lawmakers-seek-withdrawal-of-guthi-bill/

[67] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-13/united-in-haste-ideological-schisms-appear-in-ruling-party.html

[68] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/79659/

[69] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/govt-to-make-changes-in-proposed-media-guthi-bills-in-consultation-with-concerned-stakeholders-says-ncp-chairman-dahal/

[70] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/79577/

[71] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-07/former-child-soldier-files-petition-at-un-human-rights-office-demanding-justice-20190607191754.html

[72] https://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-07/former-child-soldier-files-petition-at-un-human-rights-office-demanding-justice-20190607191754.html

[73] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/committee-to-recommend-leadership-for-transitional-bodies-failsonce-againto-nominate-anyone.html

[74] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/committee-failsagain-to-recommend-tj-commissioners/

[75] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/martyrs-families-complain-of-discrimination/

[76] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com.np/news/2019-06-23/shackling-of-resham-chaudhary-shows-how-the-state-treats-its-citizens-differently-rights-defenders-say.html

[77] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/reshams-manacled-leg-enrages-pm/

[78] https://www.kantipurdaily.com/news/2019/06/10/156014386473316055.html

[79] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-10/parliamentary-committee-directs-government-to-terminate-staff-recruitment-process.html

[80] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-12/instead-of-encouraging-provinces-federal-government-went-ahead-with-staff-recruitment.html

[81] https://www.recordnepal.com/wire/features-how-patriarchy-denies-nepali-girls-the-chance-to-be-born/

[82] https://theannapurnaexpress.com/news/minister-helps-arrange-child-marriage-1501 

[83] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/nepal-ranks-10th-for-child-marriage-among-boys/

[84] https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/06/1039971

[85] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128647

[86] https://www.setopati.com/politics/183646

[87] https://www.setopati.com/politics/183646

[88] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/ncp-to-appoint-heads-of-district-committees/

[89] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-04/as-ncp-heads-into-key-meeting-fog-thickens-over-who-will-lead-organisation-department.html

[90] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/dahal-says-he-will-be-pm-after-a-year/

[91] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/cpn-chairs-oli-dahal-meet/

[92] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/78650/

[93] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-05/over-a-year-since-unification-ideological-differences-appear-in-ruling-communist-party.html

[94] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-07/row-lingers-in-ruling-party-over-one-leader-one-responsibility-issue.html

[95] http://annapurnapost.com/news/129090

[96] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128689

[97] http://annapurnapost.com/news/128711

[98] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/78894/

[99] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/15783/2019-06-02

[100] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/17797/2019-06-23

[101] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-28/samajbadi-party-in-informal-talks-with-rastriya-janata-party-for-merger.html

[102] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/rjpn-bats-for-alliance-with-ethnic-parties-to-revive-identity-movement-1/

[103] https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/78900/

[104] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/rpp-chief-thapa-bats-for-roundtable-conference/

[105] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/karnali-spends-rs-2b-development-budget-on-vehicles/

[106] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/president-women-uplift-program-commences/

[107] http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2019-06-11/women-join-hands-to-construct-embankment-in-mahakali-river.html

[108]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/capital-of-province-2-to-be-developed-as-a-cultural-city/

[109]https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/18086/2019-06-26

[110]https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/18125/2019-06-26

[111]https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/17915/2019-06-24

[112] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/17562/2019-06-20

[113] http://www.gorkhapatraonline.com/news/71368

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