Rule of law and how it affects women in particular

News Digest (October 15-21, 2019)

CESIF Nepal Democracy and Federalism, Gender and Inclusion, Good Governance, International Relations, News Digest, Security and Strategic Affairs Leave a Comment

DOMESTIC POLITICS

The Ruling Party-NCP: The party directed the subordinate committee to recommend candidates for the upcoming by-election. The party also nominated Astalaxmi Shakya, Bhanubhakta Dhakal, and Hari Adhikari as members of the central organization department.[1] Senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal confirmed that the cabinet wouldn’t be reshuffled until the by-election.[2]  The election commission confirmed the date of the by-election, which will be held on 30 November. At least 20,000 new voters will get the chance to participate in the by-election.

PM Oli expressed his displeasure on the way the Nepali media writes and that the media does not know how to respect seniors, elders, and respectable persons.[3]

Possible NC Alliance: NCP co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal indicated possible alliance with NC in the coming days. During the NC party tea reception, Dahal applauded NC leaders and said that nothing is impossible in politics, indicating a future change in Nepali politics.[4] As in Oli’s leadership, Dahal cannot do anything and feels insecure, but he feels like he is “with coworkers” when he is amongst Congress leaders.[5] 

OPPOSITION POLITICS

Nepali Congress: As the speaker of the house resigned following rape allegations, Nepali Congress has put forward its claim for the post.[6] Samajbadi Party Nepal also demanded the post of Speaker or Deputy Speaker.[7]

NC also demanded constitutional amendments on behalf of the Adibasi/Janajati and Madhesi communities.[8] 

Biplab: Police arrested 21 leaders of the outlawed party from Dang. Six of the arrested are the central committee members.[9] It is the biggest arrest since the government outlawed the party in March 2019.[10] Police also arrested Rapti Bureau in-Charge Ratna Thapa Magar,[11] Myagdi district in-Charge Kaman Singh Nakal Chettri and Secretary Babu Lal Shakya.[12]

SP-N and RJP-N: Samajbadi Party Nepal leader, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai expressed that the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping enhanced Nepal’s status and reputation in the international arena.[13] 

The long-awaited convention of the RJP-N was postponed again as they remain undecided on whether the merger of the party with Samajbadi should be before or after the convention.[14]

Rule of Law: On October 18, the Supreme Court order invalidated the salaries and privileges for the elected local government officials. The verdict invalidates billions distributed to local elected officials as salary and allowances under the laws promulgated after the country turned a federal republic.[15] This is the first incident the Supreme Court dismissed and invalidated the law passed by the provincial assembly.

 The constitutional bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the laws passed by provincial assembly regarding salaries of representatives. This is the first incident where the Supreme Court dismissed and invalidated the law passed by the provincial assembly.[16] 

The Apex court ordered the police to extend custody of Mohammad Aftab Alam for seven more days. On 13 October, police arrested NC parliamentarian Alam who is accused of killing eight people burning them in a brick kiln during the first CA elections in 2007.[17] On the same vein, NC PresidentSher Bahadur Deuba ran in controversy for protecting him saying that the government conspired against NC leaders and cadres by arresting Alam.[18] With this scandalous speech, Deuba faced widespread criticism and he took a U-turn and vowed to facilitate the investigation and a fair trial.[19]  Finally, party spokesperson Bishwo Prakash Sharma confirmed that NC will facilitate investigation on lawmaker Alam.[20]

Further, NCP lawmaker Parbat Gurung also faced an arrest warrant on the accusation of attempted murder during the federal elections.[21] However, on 20 October, Kathmandu district court verdict released Gurung on a general date.[22]

Parliamentary Affairs: Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe, Deputy Speaker of the HoR, worked on to certify bills in the parliament, which is against the spirit of constitution and parliamentarian regulations. The deputy speaker has not been delegated the core power and function of the Speaker, said constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya.[23] 

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Bhandari’s visit to Myanmar: President Bidya Bhandari went on a state visit to Myanmar on October 19. During her visit, Nepal and Myanmar signed two MoUs on cooperation on culture and tourism. Myanmar expressed support for Nepal’s target for “Visit Nepal 2020”, and “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali.”[24]

Nepal-China: President Xi Jinping and PM KP Oli jointly oversaw an agreement between the Tribhuvan University of Nepal and Confucius Institute Headquarters of China on the establishment of a Confucius Institute at the Tribhuvan University. Both leaders, in their joint statement, agreed to strengthen cooperation in areas like education, culture, tourism, and traditional medicine. China will provide 100 Confucius Institute Scholarships to Nepali students and continue to extend the support of the China Cultural Centre and Confucian Centers.[25]

China pledged Rs 2.4 billion to the Nepal Army for humanitarian and disaster relief measures. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Ishwar Pokharel traveled to China to sign the agreement which is worth RMB 150 million.[26]

Government spokesperson Gokul Baskota sought to clarify that a strategic partnership with China does not mean military cooperation between China and Nepal. He emphasized that this cooperation only extends to development and prosperity. Baskota said that Nepal is not part of any military alliance but welcomes military capacity enhancement aid from all neighboring countries.[27]

A senior leader of the ruling Communist Party stated that the government has been able to improve Nepal’s relationship with both India and China both. General Secretary of NCP Bishnu Paudel said that Prime Minister KP Oli has strengthened the relationship between India and Nepal after the 2015 blockade and stabilized a tense situation.[28]

China and Nepal agreed to strengthen ties by signing 18 MoUs. The proposal for the Kerung-Lumbini line, welcomed by the Nepali side, is a cause for worry for India as it would bring China close to the Indian border. There was also no mention of the extradition treaty that would allow China to access the Tibetan refugees in Nepal.[29]

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a statement during his visit to Nepal that those individuals that attempted to split any region from China would find their “bodies smashed and bones ground to powder.” While he did not mention a single territory in this statement, it may have been in connection to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong as well as a message for the Tibetans living within Nepal.[30]

Kathmandu-Beijing Air-link: A direct flight from Kathmandu to Beijing will commence from October 27 through the Himalaya Airlines of Nepal three times a week. The airlines said that they are looking to expand their operations to other cities due to the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal. Similarly, Nepal Airline, the national flag carrier, will soon fly to Beijing.[31]

Nepal-India: Nepal, India, and Bangladesh are likely to sign an agreement to transfer electricity from Nepal to Bangladesh through the Indian grid. The Seventh Joint Steering Committee meeting on Nepal-India Cooperation that is happening this month is expected to sign the tripartite agreement. Dinesh Ghimire, secretary of the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation said the transmission modality and commercial terms are expected to be fixed for the transmission of electricity. Ghimire also added that Nepal proposed to pay the surcharge to India for using its grid, rather than transacting power through Indian commercial entity. [32]

The Global Hunger Index placed India at the 102nd position, slipping down the ladder from its previous 85th position. This fall has been augmented by the fact that Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh fared better than India proving to be an embarrassment for the ruling BJP party. The report prepared jointly by an Irish aid agency, Concern Worldwide, and German organization, Welt Hunger Hilfe, termed the level of hunger in India “serious”.[33]

Nepal and India also finalized the construction modality of the new 400-kVA Butwal-Gorakhpur cross-border transmission line. A two-day talk between India and Nepal in Bengaluru came up with the decision to build the project with 50-50 equity. According to Chief of the Nepal Electricity Authority, Kulman Ghising that 80% of the project will be financed by loans. The earlier inability of both countries to finalize the construction of the transmission line affected the utilization of the funds of the United States under the Millennium Challenge Cooperation.[34]

Tibetan Unrest during Xi’s Visit: During Xi’s visit this month, a number of Tibetan refugees were detained. Two such incidents involving a 14-year-old Nepali girl and a 65-year-old Nepali woman were taken into custody, one for wearing a shirt saying ‘Free Tibet’ and another carrying a bag that had Tibetan letters respectively. Deputy Superintendent Ramesh Bahadur Singh said that the police detained around 25 people during Xi’s visit and later released them. The police also admitted that some of the people arrested were Tibetan refugees.[35]

Nepal-India-China: Co-chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that Xi’s visit to both India and Nepal floated the idea of a trilateral relationship between Nepal, China, and India. “Although I forged the idea of a trilateral relationship among three countries to both the leaders, Xi’s visit to Nepal and India laid the foundation of realizing the idea,” said Dahal.[36]

PROVINCIAL AFFAIRS

Public Service Commission: Gandaki Province passed the Public Service Commission. Through the commission, the province can now recruit permanent employees and also accelerate the work in the administration. The province has 400 vacant positions and has 2200 employees as of now.[37]

Budget: In Jajarkot and Salyan, several offices such as social development, agriculture development, health service, irrigation, energy, and animal hospital have been established but there are no employees. The provincial government has not managed the budget, staff, policy, and program for the services.[38]

The provincial governments were unable to spend more than 50% of the budget in the last fiscal year. The same seems to be going true this fiscal year as well. The government has spent 4.34% of the development budget in the first three months of the ongoing fiscal year. As per the statistics of the Financial Comptroller General Office, the government could manage to spend only Rs 17.7 billion till mid-October out of Rs 408 billion allocated under capital expenditure for the current fiscal.[39]

Trauma Centers: The Ministry for Health and Population informed that the government is preparing to set up trauma centers in all seven provinces. Similarly, the government will also open health laboratories in the provinces. The setup of the center will help enhance access of people to health services.[40]

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNANCE

Infrastructure Development: Gautam Buddha International Airport at Bhairahawa is almost complete with a total of 82% of the physical set-up and 18% of electromechanical works of the project completed. As per the plan, the construction is expected to complete by December 2019 and test flight will be done in the first quarter of 2020.[41]

Transmission Lines: Nepal-China Border 400-KV transmission line with 214 towers, the first cross-border transmission line with China, will be constructed under the government-to-government (G2G) model which was earlier carried out in the government-to-business (G2B) model.[42]

Further, the second high-capacity cross-border transmission line connecting Butwal to Gorakhpur in India will be funded by both the countries with the agreements on implementation and financing modality of the 135-kilometer long, 400-kV transmission line and formalization of an energy banking mechanism between the two with 20% of equity investment and 80% debt. Detailed project reports of Lumki-Bareilly and Inaruwa-Purnea cross border transmission lines between Nepal and India is proposed to be built by 2025 has been agreed.[43]

Kulekhani III hydropower plant has finally started producing electricity after 12 years. The project, which was estimated to cost Rs2.43 billion, has cost as high as Rs 4.63 billion due to delays in implementation. Water is conveyed to the plant through a 4-kilometer tunnel extending from the 60-megawatt Kulekhani I and the 32-megawatt Kulekhani II.[44]

After the Indian company ICOMM Tele failed to complete the construction of the 220-kV 74-kilometre Hetauda-Bharatpur power line, the Nepal Electricity Authority has invited global bids for the construction. In 2011, ICOMM Tele agreed to construct within USD 10 million and completed by 2016. But ICOMM could only set up 119 pylons out of 226. Nepal Electricity Authority has terminated ICOMM Tele and confiscated USD 3.57 million from the service provider in May. [45]

Prime Minister KP Sharma said Nepal will construct seven tunnel roads with two interchanges while laying the foundation for Sishnekhola to Nagdhunga Tunnel in Kathmandu. The construction company vowed to complete it in the span of three years from the date they start working.[46]

The provincial government of Province 3 decided to construct the Hetauda-Kathmandu tunnel stretching from Bhimphedi to Sisneri on its own budget. The Ministry of Physical Infrastructures and Development will announce a tender within three months. The cost has been estimated at Rs 12 billion.[47]

Melamchi Project: The government has promised to bring the Melamchi water to the valley within a year. Earlier the work was delayed as the Italian contractor CMC quit the project, but now as the contract has been handed over to Chinese contractor Sino Hydro, there is some hope that they will be able to complete it.[48]

Budhi Gandaki Hydropower: During the meeting with the stakeholders and political leaders representing Gorkha and Dhading districts, Minister for Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation Barshaman Pun said that the construction of Budhi Gandaki Hydropower was delayed due to the compensation issues. The government will solve the issues soon and start the construction work at the earliest. [49]

Dharahara Tower Reconstruction: Reconstruction of Dharahara tower, damaged during the Gorkha earthquake in 2015, is going at a slow pace; only 27% of the work is complete. Nepali and Chinese construction company JIITC-Raman JV had agreed to construct the tower within two years, but looking at progress, it may not happen even in five years.[50]

Optical Fiber: Nepal Telecom (NT), Smart Telecom, and United Telecom Ltd (UTL) all have failed to lay optical fiber on time; NTA across the Karnali Province and Province 7, Smart Telecom has so far laid only 20 kilometers of optical fiber, UTL 2,000 kilometers in Gandaki Province and Province 5 and, Nepal Telecom has just started the project.[51]

GENDER AND SOCIAL INCLUSION

Rape Allegation on House Speaker: The former Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara will remain in the police custody till October 23. He was arrested on October 6 after the rape accusation of a Parliament Secretariat employee Roshani Shahi. Meanwhile, Mahara refused to record his statement citing his legal right to remain silent.[52]

Food Security: The government is going to host a global conference on nutrition in the capital from November 4 to 7.  The conference expects as many as 1,000 delegates from 80 countries. The event is supported by a global movement called Scaling up Nutrition. National Planning Commission stated that Nepal achieved remarkable progress in reducing malnutrition ever since the country joined the Movement in 2011.[53] However, a recent report published by UNICEF shows that around 43% of children under the age of five are malnourished in Nepal. The report states obesity among children and adolescents has, however, increased in recent years.[54]

Abortion: Family Welfare Division under the Department of Health Services planned to monitor private hospitals and abortion centers in several parts of the country in a bid to put a check on illegal sex-selective abortions. The division allocated budget for this initiative.[55]

Acid Attack: Parsa District Court sent acid attackers of Muskan Khatun Shamshad Aalam and Majid Miya to a juvenile correction home as their ages could not be properly determined. As per the medical report, the age of Aalam is between 16 to 18 years while Miya’s age is between 18 to 20 years. But families of both the perpetrators submitted their birth certificates to the court, which says that Aalam is 12 years old whereas Miya’s is 14 years old. The investigation is ongoing to find out their actual ages.[56]

Livelihood Risking Lives: Many people in Bajhang are losing their lives while collecting fodders from hills. Data shows that women are more vulnerable. According to Bajhang police, 41 people died in the last three years, of which six were men and 35 women. Several deaths go unreported as well. To reduce the incidents, the District Veterinary Hospital, in coordination with the Agriculture Research Centre and various NGOs, distribute seeds and saplings of cattle fodder to farmers. But this went in vain as people do not apply new techniques over traditional method of fetching grass.[57]

Rape: An assistant sub-inspector of police was arrested and suspended for his alleged involvement in the rape of a woman at Patrangbari of Dharan. The victim filed a case at the Sunsari District Police Office.[58]

Photo: Pixabay


[1] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/ncp-secretariat-meeting-directive-to-recommend-name-of-candidates-for-by-election/

[2] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/cabinet-reshuffle-unlikely-before-by-polls-nepal/

[3] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/10/15/oli-now-has-problems-with-the-way-the-media-addresses-individuals

[4] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/10/15/it-is-politics-as-usual-with-dahal-back-to-making-cryptic-statements

[5] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/10/21/with-oli-continuing-to-hold-on-to-both-party-and-government-dahal-feels-sidelined

[6] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/congress-deserves-speaker-post-at-hor-says-congress-leader-basnet/

[7] https://kathmandupost.com/politics/2019/10/17/search-intensifies-for-a-candidate-for-the-now-vacant-post-of-house-speaker

[8] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/27346/2019-10-18

[9] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/police-arrest-21-leaders-including-six-ccms-of-chand-led-ncp/

[10] https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-5/2019/10/17/police-arrest-21-communist-party-of-nepal-leaders-and-cadres-in-dang

[11] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/27262/2019-10-17

[12] https://www.nayapatrikadaily.com/news-details/27281/2019-10-18

[13] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/president-xi-s-visit-helps-increase-nepal-s-prestige-in-international-arena-dr-bhattarai/

[14] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/rjpn-may-postpone-general-convention-yet-again/

[15] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/sc-invalidates-salaries-for-elected-local-officials/

[16] https://ekantipur.com/news/2019/10/18/1571386093452766.html

[17] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/judicial-custody-of-aalam-extended-by-seven-days/

[18] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nc-will-support-impartial-and-unbiased-probe-into-alam-s-case-deuba/

[19] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/deuba-changes-tune-vows-to-facilitate-ongoing-investigation-against-nc-lawmaker-alam/

[20] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nc-will-facilitate-investigation-against-lawmaker-alam-says-spokesperson-sharma/

[21] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/arrest-warrant-issued-against-ncp-lawmaker/

[22] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/district-court-frees-lawmaker-gurung-on-general-date/

[23] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/dy-speaker-out-to-certify-bills-though-constitution-silent-on-relevant-powers/

[24]http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2019-10/20/content_75320245.htm

[25]http://english.hanban.org/article/2019-10/16/content_788880.htm

[26]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/china-pledges-rs-2-4b-aid-to-nepal-army/

[27]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/strategic-partnership-with-china-doesn-t-mean-military-cooperation-baskota/

[28]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/govt-working-to-better-relations-with-india-china-paudel/

[29]http://researchwriteups.com/2019/10/18/china-reboots-ties-with-nepal-with-goodwill-and-gifts/

[30]https://americanmilitarynews.com/2019/10/chinese-president-xi-jinping-vows-to-crush-hong-kong-pro-freedom-protesters-bones-to-powder/

[31]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/himalaya-airlines-to-operate-direct-flight-to-beijing-from-oct-27/

[32]https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/nepal-likely-to-export-power-to-bangladesh-using-indian-grid

[33] https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/india-slips-to-102nd-rank-in-global-hunger-report-2019-behind-nepal-pakistan-and-bangladesh-1.1571308189075

[34]https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/construction-modality-of-new-transmission-line-finalised/

[35]https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006092021?fp=11589e5ae65d2e38888339b9201196b3

[36]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/xi-visit-laid-foundation-for-trilateral-cooperation-dahal/

[37] https://ekantipur.com/pradesh-4/2019/10/15/157111761746715773.html

[38] https://ekantipur.com/pradesh-6/2019/10/15/157111875234276010.html

[39] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/development-expenditure-4-3pc-in-q1/

[40] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/govt-to-set-up-trauma-centres-in-all-provinces/

[41]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/94-per-cent-physical-works-completed-at-gautam-budhha-int-l-airport/

[42]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nepal-china-cross-border-transmission-line-in-g2g-model/

[43]https://kathmandupost.com/money/2019/10/15/nepal-india-agree-to-build-new-butwal-gorakhpur-transmission-line-with-equal-equity-investment

[44]https://kathmandupost.com/money/2019/10/15/kulekhani-iii-stirs-to-life-after-12-years-in-development

[45]https://kathmandupost.com/money/2019/10/15/electricity-authority-looking-for-new-contractor-to-build-transmission-line

[46]https://www.karobardaily.com/news/development/25297

[47]https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/provincial-government-to-invest-on-hetauda-kathmandu-tunnel-construction/

[48]https://www.karobardaily.com/news/development/25293

[49] https://risingnepaldaily.com/business/govt-to-build-budigandaki-project-says-minister-pun

[50] https://baahrakhari.com/news-details/221469/2019-10-20

[51] https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/no-headway-in-optical-fibre-laying-project/

[52] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/former-speaker-krishna-bahadur-maharas-police-custody-extended-till-october-23/

[53] https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/nepal-to-host-conference-on-meeting-nutrition-standards/

[54] https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/43-nepali-children-below-five-years-are-malnourished-unicef/

[55] https://kathmandupost.com/health/2019/10/15/health-ministry-to-monitor-hospitals-to-curb-sex-selective-abortions

[56] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/muskan-khatuns-attackers-sent-to-juvenile-correction-home/

[57] https://kathmandupost.com/sudurpaschim-province/2019/10/20/in-the-far-west-dozens-of-women-lose-their-lives-while-fetching-fodder-every-year

[58] https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/asi-arrested-on-rape-charge-in-dharan/

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