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Nepal

By launching impeachment proceedings in Parliament against Supreme Court Chief Justice Sushila Karki, the ruling coalition government in Nepal has ignited yet another crisis at an already fraught political moment — before the scheduled local polls later this month.

 

The move to impeach Sushila Karki, the chief justice of Nepal’s Supreme Court, has triggered a new political crisis in Kathmandu. Deputy prime minister and Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi resigned from the government on Sunday after the impeachment motion signed by 249 members of the CPN (Maoist-Centre) and Nepali Congress, was moved.

 

The impeachment motion registered by 249 lawmakers of Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre in Parliament Secretariat against Chief Justice Sushila Karki on Sunday has sharply polarized the political spectrum.

 

Two years has just passed since the major earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale shook the country, killing over nine thousand people

 

It has been two years since the Gorkha earthquake devastated central Nepal. As the country prepares to commemorate the second anniversary of the earthquake, tarps are not yet wrapped and two freezing winters and two torrential monsoons have already passed.

 
The tempo is building up for the local level elections to be held on May 14. There are skeptics who believe that they will not be held; however, most parties in the ruling coalition and in the opposition are dead set for holding the elections no matter what.
 
Malhari Devi Paswan, 60, looks anxiously at the crowd. She takes a deep breath, and closes her eyes to recollect herself.  
 
With Madhesi parties deciding to boycott local polls scheduled for May 14, Nepal is heading for another political crisis. The boycott decision came after the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre)-led government tabled fresh amendments to the Constitution in Parliament. Ever since the country adopted the new post-monarchy Constitution in September 2015, Madhesi parties have been demanding a redrawing of federal boundaries to reflect the fact that the community, residents of the Terai area, and other minority groups are in a majority in some new provinces. The government led by CPN(M-C) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, with the Nepali Congress part of the coalition, came to power in 2016 on the promise of accommodating these demands to the extent possible and forging a reasonable consensus across the political spectrum. The government had also initiated amendments that went some way in addressing Madhesi concerns, such as the formation of a federal commission to look into a redrawing of federal boundaries, and the recognition of local languages as national ones. These amendments were, however, rejected by Madhesi parties, which stuck to a maximalist position. The opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified-Marxist-Leninist) also rejected them, though for being too giving. Unable to forge any consensus, the government came up with the fresh amendments as a signal that it is willing to concede some of the Madhesi demands in return for their participation in the long-pending local polls. But the absence of substantive efforts to address the federal question has resulted in a Madhesi boycott.
 
There is much controversy about Nepal Airlines Corporation’s (NAC) deal with the United States-based leasing company AAR Corp for buying two wide-body  Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The NAC had chosen to buy the two aircraft from the concerned agent at a total cost of Rs. 22 billion.  The NAC says it had to do this through a global bidding process after the Airbus, a manufacturing company, did not participate in the bidding process this time around. The purchase was made by the NAC which would be transferring about eight billion rupees to the AAR Corp next month. This was done without any bond or bank guarantee from the supplier. As per the provisions a bank guarantee is necessary as the per the Public Procurement Act of the country. Thus, the clarification by Sugat Ratna Kansakar, the NAC MD, that according to the financial regulations of NAC, such is allowed without a bank guarantee. But thus purchasing aircraft does not hold water as it clearly goes against the Public Procurement Act. Furthermore, the NAC is a public corporation requiring it to stick to the law and regulations stringently.
 

Although the nation’s current focus is squarely on the upcoming local level elections, they will only mark the beginning of a larger political process. Elections to the local, provincial and federal levels, which will have to be held by January 2018, will be a watershed event, for they will lead to the implementation of the new state structure as outlined in the constitution.

 


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