News Digest: September 17-23, 2020

Democracy & Governance, News Digest, Thematic Areas 0 Comments

Domestic Politics & Governance

Domestic Politics

Nepal Communist Party (NCP): PM Oli’s decision to appoint Yuvaraj Khatiwada as his special economic advisor is likely to invite serious conflict within the party and confusion among bureaucrats, officials, and ministers, for Khatiwada has been speculated to be the de-facto finance minister of the country with overarching impacts in several other sectors.

PM Oli and NCP chairman Dahal have initiated their homework to complete the constitutional body’s appointment that has been on a hold for a long time.

NCP leader Madhav Nepal, who was cornered after the Oli-Dahal agreement, has clarified that his dissent should be taken as a suggestion to lead the party in a positive direction.

Following the cabinet recommendation, the president appointed Bamdev Gautam as a member of the National Assembly (NA). Taking his oath, Gautam expressed his delight and vowed to keep the prestige of the National Assembly as its member.

Amidst the exercise to make Gautam (and Narayan Kaji Shrestha) minister, NCP leader Subash Nembang cautioned that a person who has lost the parliamentary election cannot be a minister.

Challenging the constitutionality of Gautam’s appointment to the NA and his likely inclusion in the cabinet, a writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against Gautam, Nepal government, NCP, and the office of the president.

NCP issued a circular to its party leaders and workers asking them to refrain from speaking about the party and the government, which seems to have controlled information outflow from the party.

Nepali Congress (NC): The opposition Nepali Congress asked the government to scrap its earlier decision to not test dead bodies for the coronavirus infection.

Upset with the party president Sher Bahadur Deuba’s recent moves to influence the upcoming general election, the Ram Chandra Poudel faction has begun a signature collection campaign against him. The group wishes to include the Situala faction, too, in this struggle against Deuba.

Constitution Day: Ex-prime minister and Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal (JSPN) leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai warned that Nepal’s constitution and the federal democratic republic ensured by it is not secure in the hands of Prime Minister Oli.

September 19 marked the fifth year anniversary of the promulgation of Nepal’s constitution. Owing to its rejection a large section of the Nepali community and a sluggish implementation even after five years, the constitution day was not celebrated with equal jubilation throughout the country.

Others: The secretariat of the federal parliament has permitted the parliamentary committees to hold discussions virtually

Stressing the importance of dissent and disagreements for democracy, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) president Kamal Thapa stated that it is essential to reinforce the parties with differing ideologies and viewpoints.

About six months after the party unification, RPP’s disagreement over their electoral symbol comes to a close; the leaders have agreed on plough, over cow, as its symbol.

The government’s and the police treatment of Dr. Govinda KC, who is on a fast-unto-death demanding easy access to quality medical education and services to all, has come under severe criticism from the public. On his way to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu from Jumla, where he began his Satyagraha, Nepal police forcibly took Dr. KC tp the National Trauma Centre.

Governance

Administrative services: All three districts of Kathmandu Valley resumed all their administrative services from September 20. Foreign minister and the government’s spokesperson Pradeep Gyawali acknowledged that the government was forced to uplift the national lockdown because of the country’s struggling economy.

Nepali Congress leader Prakash Man Singh accused the government of working in a centralized manner.

Speaking at a book launch ceremony, PM Oli stated that the constitution can be amended according to necessity and proper justification.

On the occasion of the constitution day, the government recommended the President to grant amnesty to 279 prisoners.

Fertilizer shortage: The parliamentary committee has instructed the government to proceed with the establishment of fertilizer industry.

The minister for agriculture and livestock development Ghanashyam Bhusal reiterated that the shortage of fertilizers among Nepali farmers was due to the irresponsibility and negligence of the contractors.

Although the government has uplifted the national lockdown, experts warn that the risk of infection has not decreased and that the situation may get out of control if necessary precautions are not taken.

The opposition Nepali Congress urged the government to hold dialogue with and address the demands of Dr. Govinda K.C. who is on a fast-unto-death.

Kul Man Ghising case: Addressing the nationwide protest against the government’s appointment of a new managing director to Nepal Electricity Authority, the outgoing MD Kul Man Ghising requested the protestors to not take it to the streets. He also expressed his appreciation for and faith in the government’s decisions.

Amid increasing reports of private laboratories charging PCR fees more than the government-allocated amount of NRs. 2000, a new circulation to take action against such private labs has been issued.

Airlines resume flights: After about six months of suspended services, Nepal’s domestic airlines came back into life on September 21, when a flight from Kathmandu took off to Pokhara.

Yogesh Bhattarai, the minister for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, revealed that Nepal’s tourism sector has suffered loss of NRs. 60 billion due to the pandemic so far.

Nepali Ambassadors have urged the parliamentary committee to increase the number of flights to help bring back thousands of Nepali workers stranded overseas.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has instructed the Ministry of Education to not distribute the newly introduced textbooks that have Nepal’s new map and surface area.

Citing safety issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cabinet meeting decided to postpone the election of the official trade union.

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