COVID-19

News Digest (August 27 – September 2, 2020)

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Politics and Governance

Politics

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) & the Government: NCP’s secretariat meeting, which was scheduled for Aug 29 was postponed till September 3. The meeting was called to discuss the recommendations submitted by the taskforce formed to prepare guidelines to end the party dispute.[1]

PM KP Oli said Nepali society’s and stakeholders’ opposing psychology helped spread coronavirus in the country.[2]

In a rather surprising turn of events, NCP leader Bamdev Gautam has demanded that he be made a member of the National Assembly (NA), as decided by the party earlier this year. Gautam’s readiness to enter the NA comes at a time when PM Oli appears set on finance minister Dr. Yuvaraj Khatiwada’s continuation by taking him back to the NA.[3] Gautam also stressed that the party does not need to re-discuss this matter because party secretariat has already made its decision to send him to the NA. He also urged the PM to immediately implement that decision.[4]

Nepali Congress (NC): Against the party’s provision to not issue active membership of Nepali Congress six months before the general convention, some 64 districts have received active membership forms. Leaders from both Poudel and Sitaula faction have expressed their dissatisfaction with this move, as they believe it is Deuba’s yet another ploy to sway the convention in his favor.[5]

NC President Deuba continues to make strategic moves regarding membership, departments, and new appointments, while the rival factions’ and leaders’ actions have been merely reactive and defensive.[6]

Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal (JSPN): Owing to the legal provision of re-choosing the leader of a parliamentary party after its unification, speculations regarding a possible government change in Province 2 has emerged in the political circles. It is said some ex-Rastriya Janata Party (RJP)’s leaders have been exercising to replace the Lalbabu Raut-led government with one led by their faction.[7]

With the JSPN now working to finalize the party unification, it will have repercussions for the provincial government in Province 2. JSPN will have to pick a new leader of the parliamentary party, which both Jitendra Sonal from RaJaPa and chief minister Lal Babu Raut from Samajwadi are eyeing. This could mean government change in the province in favor of RaJaPa, for Samajwadi has already run the government for more than half the term. A likely alternative to it is cabinet reshuffle.[8]

Others: Law, Justice, and Human Rights Parliamentary Committee member Min Bahadur Bishwakarma accused the government of having neither a vision nor an accountability towards the public. He also said the government’s execution of a series of directions from parliamentary committees has been very weak.[9]

The Election Commission is preparing to amend election laws. Provisions like state funding for election, candidate’s non-involvement in any occupation, and mandatory use of banking system for electoral expenses will be added.[10]

Governance

Flights, long – routes transportation resumption: The government has decided to lift the restriction on regular and chartered international flights for Nepalis starting September 1[11]. However, only Nepalis will be allowed to fly into Nepal with restrictions on foreign nationals, according to a cabinet meeting decision. The daily arrivals have been restricted to 800 individuals. Any person, including Nepalis from countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar will not be allowed into the country as PCR tests are not readily available in these countries. Along with Nepalis, representatives of diplomatic missions, the United Nations and development partners will also be allowed to fly into Nepal.

Nepal will continue the suspension on domestic and long-haul transportation until September 16.[12] The decision was made on August 31 in a cabinet meeting to control the upsurge of cases in the country. These services have been shut from March.

COVID-19: Despite a huge upsurge in cases, the Health Ministry says that there have been no community transmission[13] of COVID-19. Even though public health experts have reported cases from the core of the valley like Kalimati, Balkhu, Ason, Bhotahiti, the government is yet to confirm community transfer of Coronavirus. The Health Ministry is said to have directed hospitals not to perform PCR tests on the same patient twice and to encourage and practice home isolation.

There have been deaths of four prisoners in central jail among which one has tested positive on September 1 for coronavirus causing concern among officials. It has also been reported that 85 security personnel at prisons across the country have tested positive for the virus. While there are temporary quarantine facilities in the prisons, the temporary isolation is already full.

Prohibitory order likely to be eased: Chief District Officers have recommended the government to ease the lockdown in the valley lifting the valley lockdown starting August 19.[14] The final decision is however yet to take place as per the direction of Ministry of Home Affairs.


[1] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/50137/2020-08-28

[2] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/50314/2020-08-31

[3]https://www.onlinekhabar.com/2020/08/893064?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=FBpage1&fbclid=IwAR1v77g_xoAhV_YS_X31MNoWi2p8tUgqmlm7t9YNEWQGX_znkkbTqawjHs4

[4] https://ekantipur.com/news/2020/09/02/159900785515751407.html

[5] https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/08/28/coronavirus-threat-reaches-government-agency-formed-to-fight-it

[6] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/50384/2020-09-02

[7] https://ekantipur.com/news/2020/08/30/159875374986767082.html

[8] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2020/08/31/as-janata-samajbadi-party-attempts-to-conclude-unity-province-2-government-likely-to-have-an-impact

[9] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/50206/2020-08-30

[10] https://ekantipur.com/news/2020/09/02/15990081026199212.html

[11]https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/08/21/international-flights-to-resume-from-september-1-but-tourists-won-t-be-allowed

[12]https://english.onlinekhabar.com/nepal-extends-suspension-on-long-route-transport-domestic-flights-until-sept-16.html

[13]https://kathmandupost.com/national/2020/08/29/despite-growing-evidence-healthy-ministry-says-no-community-transmission-yet

[14] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/prohibitory-order-likely-to-be-eased/

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