Nepal & Bhutan Brief (11/16)
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(Based on Media Reports)

Political Developments:

1. The Unified CPN-Maoist, which was formed by unifying several Maoist parties after CPN-Maoist joined mainstream politics, was dissolved to form, on May 19, CPN Maoist Centre, comprising 10 parties. Pushpa Kamal Dahal will be Chairperson of the new party. Formation of CPN-Maoist Centre was announced at a grand function in Babarmahal, on May 19. Addressing the gathering, Dahal said that the unification of 10 Maoist parties was part of an effort to regain the lost glory of the people’s movement and urged Mohan Baidya and Baburam Bhattarai also to join the new party.

2. Despite the unification, there would be still four more off shoots of the former rebel forces in the mainstream politics led by Baidya, Bhattarai, Chand and Hemanta Prakash Oli. Issuing a joint statement shortly after the announcement of the new party, Baidya, Chand and Oli said that the unification was against the sovereignty, people’s supremacy and revolution for emancipation of the country and the people. They described the move as a coalition of right-wing neo-revisionists and therefore, the people should wage ideological struggle against this, the statement said.

3. The very first meeting of the new entity, CPN-Maoist Centre, witnessed a dispute, on May 23, following which chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal decided to keep the leadership centralized with a small team of office bearers. Dahal has formed a nine-member “headquarters” that would command the party till its general convention. Dahal was initially planning to fill key leadership positions by creating a bigger team of 51-member central secretariat, 151-member politburo with at least five vice-chairmen, one general secretary, two assistant general secretaries, three secretaries and one treasurer. But Dahal dropped the plan after sensing deep discontent among his close aides. He, therefore, announced that the CPN-Maoist Centre would run the party through its “headquarters” for the time being.

New Government Would Soon Be Formed Under His Leadership: Dahal:

4. Chairman of the unified CPN-Maoist Centre Pushpa Kamal Dahal, on May 27, revealed that a new government would soon be formed under his leadership after the budget was approved by the parliament. Earlier, on May 5, while signing a nine-point deal, the then Unified CPN-Maoist had asked the ruling CPN-UML to ink a secret deal in black and white to hand over power to UCPN-M Chairman Dahal. However, PM KP Sharma Oli refused to sign the secret part of the deal, it was only treated as “gentleman’s agreement”. Speaking at a press meet in Bharatpur of Chitwan, organized by Revolutionary Journalists’ Association, on May 26, Dahal claimed that his party had signed a nine-point agreement only after the CPN-UML agreed to hand over the government’s leadership to him. He claimed that his party had been advocating for a national consensus government since the days when his party was in opposition, and of late, the main opposition Nepali Congress and the agitating Madhes-based forces too had agreed to join the government led by him. There was no option but to form a consensus government for the effective implementation of the new constitution, to accelerate reconstruction works and to speed up developmental activities in the country, said Dahal.

5. The ruling CPN-UML, seems to be headed for a rough political time, with its key coalition partner, CPN (Maoist Centre) raising the issue of leadership change again — second time in a month. Leaders of the CPN (Maoist Centre) have said that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli should honour the “gentleman’s agreement” that he and Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal had reached, on May 5. According to the leaders, the deal had it that Oli would let Dahal take over government’s reins after tabling of the fiscal budget on May 28. PM Oli however, denies any such agreement. On May 29, a day after the government tabled the budget, PM Oli, while briefing his party leaders said that there was “no understanding with the Maoist leadership on change in the government”. Oli asked leaders not to go after rumours. The pressure from Maoist Centre on the UML comes at a time when the government is battling the Nepali Congress and the bloc of agitating parties, which have been critical of budget. The Maoists are also dissatisfied with the Oli government for not including some of its “pet programmes” in the budget. On May 30, during a meeting between Oli and Dahal, the latter expressed his dissatisfaction at government for not incorporating his party’s recommendations like introducing pension scheme for the farmers and Rs. 2 million worth of Tamkoshi hydropower shares to families of martyrs.

Protest Outside PM’s House by Federal Alliance:

6. The Federal Alliance, consisting of parties agitating against some provisions of the constitution staged a protested demonstration outside PM’s House, on May 16-17. At least 13 people, including 11 protesters, were injured when police clashed with the demonstrators on May 17. At a meeting held, on May 18, the Federal Alliance decided to launch phase-wise programmes from May 19 to 28 at different places in Kathmandu valley. It also decided to organize protest programmes at Birgunj on May 29 and in Pokhara on May 30. The Alliance has resorted to fresh protest with an aim to exert pressure on the government to address their demands.

PM Oli Calls All-Party Meeting; UDMF Boycotts:

7. Prime Minister Oli, on May 24, called a meeting of political parties, including ruling parties, the main opposition Nepali Congress and constituents of United Democratic Madhesi Front. UDMF leaders, however, declined to attend the meeting. Federal Alliance also refused to join the all-party meeting which ended inconclusively. According to UDMF leaders, they were against holding talks for the 37th time, as all the previous talks were a waste of time. Spokesperson for Federal Alliance Parshuram Tamang, however, said that the government had invited UDMF with the intention of dividing the Alliance group. He said that the FA had decided not to join the talks unless the government invited only the FA instead of UDMF.

President Inaugurates Buddha Jayanti Celebrations:

8. President Vidya Devi Bhandari, on May 21, inaugurated the 2560th Budha Jayanti Celebrations in Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who is also the Chairperson of the Buddha Jayanti Ceremony, former Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President, Sher Bahadur Deuba, former PM and CPN Maoist Centre Chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Cabinet ministers, lawmakers and political party leaders. The Buddha Jayanti Celebrations was attended by more than 350 senior Buddhist monks from 28 countries and more than 15,000 Buddhists from home and abroad. On this occasion, PM Oli assured that the government was doing its best to protect and preserve the archeological relics in the greater Lumbini area and the implementation of the master plan in this regard was underway.

External Relations:

India Concerned About Construction In Susta:

9. India has expressed concerns over the construction activities undertaken by Nepal at Susta, a disputed territory between Nepal and India in Nawalparasi district. Foreign Ministry sources acknowledged that they had received a letter from the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu objecting the constructions, but declined to share the contents of the letter. Even though Susta is disputed area, the Indian side was not consulted before carrying out any construction activity there, said Vinay Kumar, Deputy Chief of Mission. Sources in Nepal, however, said that Nepal was constructing an embankment and a foot bridge in Susta but not in disputed area. “The government is consulting stakeholders to verify the genuineness of the claim by India”, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tara Prasad Pokhrel said.

EPG Meeting To Set Tone For Reviewing Nepal-India Ties:

10. The first meeting of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) formed by Nepal and India, scheduled for July 4-5 in Kathmandu, will set the tone for reviewing bilateral relations and to chart out road map for the future. The Nepali team has already started consultations with stakeholders on the key features of Nepal-India relations, seeking suggestions on how it can be improved in the changed context. After completing the task in two years, they will submit reports to their respective governments. The Nepali team comprises Bhekh Bahadur Thapa, Nilambar Acharya, Rajan Bhattacharya, and Surya Nath Upadhyay. The Indian team consists of BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, former Ambassador Jayant Prasad, Prof. Mahendra P Lama and BC Upreti.


External Relations:

Bangladesh wants to Expand Trade with Bhutan:

1. Bangladesh. President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI), Abdul Matlub Ahmad said that Bangladesh business community preferred to import processed fruits and vegetables from Bhutan and package the same in Bangladesh. He added that Bhutan needed to improve its banking system to facilitate efficient transactions as the two countries have, so far, exploited only 10 per cent of the total potential in trade

PM Attends Swearing-in Ceremony West Bengal’s Chief Minister:

2. The Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay attended the swearing-in ceremony of the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, on May 27. in Kolkata. On the Sidelines of the ceremony, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay also met with the Governor of West Bengal, Keshri Nath Tripathi and some members of parliament. On behalf of His Majesty the king, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the Gyaltsuen, Prime Minister congratulated the WB leader on her successful re-election.

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