News Digest (August 24-31, 2019)

CESIF Nepal Thematic Areas Leave a Comment

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Ruling party-Nepal Communist Party

Leader Ishwor Pokharel formally took responsibility for the school department.[1]  Prime Minister KP Oli and Leader Madhav Kumar Nepal agreed to end their argument. Aides worked relentlessly to end the ongoing dispute between them.[2]  The leaders were in dispute after the party elevated the rank of Jhalanath Khanal and picked Bamdev Gautam as party vice-chairman.[3] Humiliated Nepal registered a note of dissent. NCP co-chair Dahal remarked that the party lacks discipline.[4] The party barred leaders to make comments against the party and the government in public.[5] Likewise, the party also nominated Kiran Rai, Padam Rai, Devendra Parajuli, and Kalpana Dhamala as central committee members.[6] In the absence of Oli, a new internal power play has increased in the party. For Dahal, it is an opportunity to restore his power grip in all fields, i.e., government, parliament, and the party.[7]

Federalism and Development

It has been four years since the promulgation of the federal constitution, but the government is yet to devolve power to provincial and local governments defying the sole purpose of federalism.[8] Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track project, supposed to be finished within the next two years by Nepal Army (NA), has its timeline extended for until February 2024. An addition of 1.5 more years over the earlier set deadline.[9] NA has so far felled 28,410 trees, and 18,740 more are yet to be cut down.[10] NA-proposed DPR for the project was recently approved.

Opposition Politics

Nepali Congress

Nepali Congress failed to complete its intra-party structure. The 28 departments and half a dozen central committee await its leadership. The intra-party rifts and divided politics delayed the process.[11] NC opposed and criticized the government on the issue of the video conference meeting of the cabinet.[12]

Biplab

Police arrested Biplab Tanahu district cadre of the outlawed party.[13] A party cadre in Taplejung has joined the NCP party[14] while another one in Baglung has surrendered.[15]

Others

RJP-N party pointed out that the EPG report failed on inclusiveness with regards to the voices of all regions and community of Nepal.[16] The party leader Mahendra Raya Yadav demanded revision of the EPG report.[17] Sarita Giri, SP-N, criticized the regressive provision on citizenship and rejected to be part of the Nepal-Bhutan Parliamentary Friendship Group.[18]

Tharuhat/Tharuwan Movement

A 3-day Tharuhat/Tharuwan Conference concluded on August 26 in Tikapur agreeing on a continuous need to fight for their rights. Leaders have demanded Tharuhat province and release of Tharu leaders from jail. Leaders of RJP-N, SP-N, and former PM Baburam Bhattarai, writers Yug Pathak and Khagendra Sangraula participated in the conference.  Baburam Bhattarai said that Tikapur incident should be treated politically.[19] The conference formed a 51-member Tharuhat/Tharuwan National Front led by coordinator Laxman Tharu and announced a 15-point declaration and stern agitation against the government if their demands are not met.[20]

Parliamentary Affairs

The government registered Kathmandu Valley Public Transport Management Authority (KVPTMA) Bill in the national assembly. The bill proposed easy, accessible, passenger-friendly, cost-effective, and safe public transport.[21] The HoR, Industry, Commerce, Labor and Consumer Rights Committee endorsed the Industrial Enterprises Bill.[22] The upper house approved two Police Adjustment and Nepal Police and (State Police, Operation, Monitoring, and Coordination) 2076 Bills.[23] After approval, lawmakers registered the amendment proposal on the bill.[24] Similarly, the HoR endorsed the National Identity Card and Vital Registration Bill-2076 BS.[25] It has also endorsed the Advertisement (Regulation) Bill.[26] Amidst objections from stakeholders on various provisions, Media Council bill has been tabled again at the National Assembly.[27] Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Baskota has asked the lawmakers’ to propose amendment the bill.[28] The assembly has registered the bill and is now open for amendment.[29] 

Transitional Justice

Though the long-awaited TJ leadership was finalized, the appointed former attorney general Raman Shrestha rejected the post. Political parties, however, failed to appoint TJ leadership through an impartial and transparent manner. Conflict victims and human rights activists and organization have warned political parties to correct their past mistakes. On April 17, five UN special rapporteurs and on July 29, four international organizations asked to adopt a consultative and transparent appointment process.[30]

Provincial Affairs

On 26 August, Ruling Nepal Communist Party pressured the speaker of province 3 to finalize the name and capital of the province. Similarly, Nepali Congress raised a point that the assembly should forward the procedure to finalize the name and the capital.[31] Province 1 has not been able to finalize due to lack of consensus.[32] Province 3 registered a Public Service Commission Bill in the provincial assembly on 11 August. The commission will recruit employees for the province after the endorsement of the Bill.[33]

The first meeting of the Inter-Government Council under the Ministry of the Finance proposed to provide an amount of financial equalization grant as requested from local and provincial governments. The council decided to submit the proposal in the cabinet. The proposal is expected to address the issues raised by local governments regarding equalization grants.[34]

Five rural municipalities in Saptari have been deprived of federal grants after failing to hold their council meeting and an unveiling of the budget as required by the Local Government Operation Act 2017. [35]

Province 2 planned to declare Open Defecation Free (ODF) by the September. The federal government has a target to make Nepal first ODF country in South Asia. So far 73% of local levels have been declared ODF in the province.[36]

The cabinet of Gandaki Province has announced tourism allowance to the employees for promotion of domestic tourism. The employees will get the allowance equivalent to a month’s salary. The government has allocated Rs 9 million for the purpose.[37]

Department of Tourism (DoT) handed over tourism-related responsibilities to seven tourism offices in the provinces. DoT has also handed over all the documents and records of mountaineering and tourism activities to provincial governments.[38]

Gender, Social Inclusion, Human Rights and Migration

Economy

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, and the Government of Nepal launched a five-year project ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ to support women entrepreneurs for poverty reduction, social well-being, and sustainable economic growth. The project is expected to catalyze entrepreneurship by providing women-owned enterprises with resources, skills, and an enabling environment.[39]

National Human Rights Commission report on ‘Status of Women and Children Working in Entertainment and Hospitality Sector’ shows that 41% of women have been subjected to forced labor and 20% of them have been victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The report indicates lapses in coordination among labor office, district administration office, and police to end child labor, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation of in the sector.[40]

Citizenship

Considering that citizens are being victimized due to the regressive mindset of bureaucracy, National Human Rights Commissioner Anup Raj Sharma said that parliament should consider CEDAW recommendations to end gender discrimination on the Citizenship Bill. NHRC member Mohna Ansari also remarked that people were deprived of various rights as their rights to citizenship was not ensured.[41] However, a difference of opinions between lawmakers about the issue of naturalized citizenship for foreign spouses, the Citizenship Bill has been stuck in the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee since last year.  They haven’t been able to make a decision on how many years to keep as a threshold period to get citizenship for the foreign spouse.[42]

Gender and Sexual Minorities Rights activists demandedother’ category in the national census to be held in 2021. The rights activists urged the government to amend the survey questionnaire and make it gender friendly. Tirth Raj Aryal, information officer of CBS, said that the questionnaire will be amended as per the suggestions from stakeholders.[43]

Human Rights

In response to a complaint of a domestic worker in Kathmandu, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has urged Nepal to remove all obstacles faced by victims of torture and forced labor. The UN committee also stated that Nepal violated a number of provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[44]

International Relations

Nepal-India

After years of relative indifference to Nepal’s political course, foreign relations, and development process, India appears to be reasserting itself in South Asia, including Nepal. The visit of India’s Foreign Minister Jaishanker was framed as an attempt to open a new chapter in Nepal-India relations.[45] PM Oli has warmed up to India’s overtures, his government is seeking to establish nationalist credentials by pushing forward the report of the Eminent Persons Group and announcing the intention to start Pancheswor from scratch as indicated by Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali at the Reporters Club.[46]

Minister Gyawali briefed the House of Representatives on the issues discussed and key decisions made during the Fifth Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting concluded recently. Minister Gyawali said that the meeting directed the secretariat to make necessary preparation for submitting the EPG report and foreign secretaries to come up with ideas to review the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty. Gyawali also shared that the government was in talks with the British government regarding the revision of tripartite agreement between Nepal, Britain, and India concerning British Gurkha soldiers.[47]

Gyawali in an interview with The Himalayan Times confirmed that the meeting discussed border mapping, inundation, extradition treaty and EPG report in great details. The minister shared that there was no discussion on the Kashmir issue. On Pakistan’s request seeking Nepal to speak on Kashmir as SAARC chair, he maintained that Nepal would focus on domestic matters and not get involved in other’s issues.[48] 

Nepal-China

The third series of Sagarmatha Friendship Joint Training, a joint military exercise with China has kick-started in Kathmandu. The two-week exercise named started on Wednesday a team of People Liberation Army (China) led by a colonel is in Nepal for the exercise and Nepali team of equal strength led by a colonel is participating in the joint exercise focusing on counter-terrorism and disaster management.

Huaxin Cement Company which was reported to have obtained land through illegal means is now complaining of obstacles from political interest groups.[49]

Union Pay has become the first Chinese company to receive a license as a payment systems operator. China is pushing ahead for the construction of the second phase of the Ring Road, while Chinese financial institutions are planning to increase investments in Nepal’s infrastructure sector.[50] Former PM and NCP leader Jhalanath Khanal is visiting China for five days at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party.[51]

While Nepal Airlines awaits to get a slot in China, Himalaya Airlines, patronized by PM K P Oli is planning to fly to five destinations in China from October, including the new Daxing airport in Beijing.[52]

The Office of the Investment Board has given permission to two Chinese companies to prepare a detailed project report for the Rs 64-billion China-Nepal Friendship Industrial Park in Damak, Jhapa.[53] The Park will be built on 2200 bighas of land.

 ‘Quiet preparations’ have allegedly begun for President Xi’s visit, some of the concerns were that of security, the Tribhuvan International Airport’s runway and arrangements for an appropriate stay for the Chinese premier[54]. The government officials have not been confirmed the visit, however, Chinese security teams have recently visited the country to assess the station with the police and the armed forces. Furthermore, the Non-Resident Nepali Association was asked to reschedule its Global Convention, earlier marked for October 13th to 16th. Expectations are at an all-time high for President Jinping’s visit and Xi may visit Nepal as a detour after his visit to India[55]


[1] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/pokharel-assumes-office-as-school-department-chief/

[2] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/expressing-regret-nepal-and-oli-poised-to-mend-fences/

[3] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/08/25/the-spectre-of-factionalism-from-uml-days-is-haunting-the-nepal-communist-party

[4] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/08/26/as-internal-row-escalates-the-ruling-party-attempts-to-rein-in-dissent

[5] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/08/27/in-new-move-the-ruling-nepal-communist-party-tries-to-muzzle-its-leaders

[6] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/ncp-bars-its-leaders-cadres-from-airing-dissent-in-public/

[7] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/08/31/with-oli-out-of-the-country-dahal-sees-opportunity-to-make-moves

[8] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/08/28/federal-government-s-reluctance-to-devolve-power-is-reflected-in-small-development-projects

[9] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/08/29/government-extends-kathmandu-tarai-expressway-deadline-to-2024

[10] https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/na-shifts-fast-track-alignment/

[11] http://annapurnapost.com/news/135421

[12] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nc-opposes-cabinet-meeting-through-video-conference/

[13] http://annapurnapost.com/news/135570

[14] http://annapurnapost.com/news/135741

[15] http://annapurnapost.com/news/135813

[16] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/rjpn-says-epg-report-doesn-t-represent-national-voice/

[17] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/lawmaker-yadav-urges-govt-to-reform-epg/

[18] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/giri-rejects-offer-in-protest-against-article-289/

[19] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/08/26/tharu-community-stresses-reconciliation-but-will-not-give-up-on-its-demands

[20] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/tharuhat-tharuwan-national-conference-concludes-in-tikapur/

[21] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/transport-management-bill-envisages-sweeping-reforms/

[22] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/house-panel-okays-industrial-enterprises-bill-amid-protest-by-minister/

[23] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/proposal-seeking-deliberation-on-two-bills-passed-unanimously/

[24] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/amendment-proposals-on-bills-related-to-police-force-registered/

[25] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/national-id-card-and-vital-registration-bill-passed/

[26] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/hor-endorses-advertisement-bill/https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/disputed-advertisement-bill-gets-parliamentary-approval/

[27] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/media-council-bill-tabled-in-hor/

[28] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/onus-on-lawmakers-as-media-council-bill-tabled-in-house/

[29] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/media-council-bill-open-for-amendment/

[30] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/08/25/parties-undue-intervention-could-call-credibility-of-transitional-justice-process-into-question

[31] https://ekantipur.com/pradesh-3/2019/08/27/156687391366689339.html

[32] https://ekantipur.com/news/2019/08/29/15670444614072695.html

[33]http://annapurnapost.com/news/135450

[34]https://nagariknews.nagariknetwork.com/news/88660/

[35] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/five-local-units-of-saptari-may-lose-federal-grant/

[36] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/23923/2019-08-29

[37]http://annapurnapost.com/news/135385

[38] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/dot-hands-over-tourism-related-responsibilities-to-provincial-govts/

[39] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/unescap-launches-five-year-project-in-nepal-to-advance-women-entrepreneurship/

[40] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/female-workers-subjected-to-forced-labour/

[41] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/end-gender-discrimination-in-citizenship-bill-nhrc/

[42] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/citizenship-bill-stalls-over-naturalisation-through-marriage/

[43] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/activists-demand-inclusion-of-lgbti-in-2021-census/

[44] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/unhrc-criticizes-nepal-over-child-labor-abuse/

[45] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/08/22/nepal-and-india-to-start-a-new-chapter-in-bilateral-ties

[46] https://www.reportersnepal.com/2019/08/336966

[47] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/lawmakers-draw-govt-attention-on-contemporary-issues-3/

[48] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/nepal-india-relations-have-reached-new-heights/

[49] https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2019/08/785085

[50] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/chinese-ambassador-yanqi-meets-finance-minister-dr-khatiwada/

[51] https://deshsanchar.com/2019/08/21/239136/

[52] https://kathmandupress.com/exclusive/himalayan-air-beat-nepal-air-to-fly-china-route

[53] http://ibn.gov.np/investment-board-approves-rs-64b-industrial-park

[54]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/authorities-start-quiet-preparation-for-visit-of-chinese-president-xi/

[55]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/authorities-start-quiet-preparation-for-visit-of-chinese-president-xi/

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