Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who came to power on August 3 last year with Nepali Congress’s backing, resigned yesterday as per the “written” but never disclosed agreement reached between him and the NC. PM Dahal wanted to announce his resignation addressing Parliament on Tuesday. But he could not do so as the main opposition CPN-UML obstructed the House over the government’s decision to add 22 more local levels in the Tarai just three weeks ahead of the second phase of the local level election in four provinces. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has already accepted Dahal’s resignation and has called upon the parties in Parliament to form a consensus government giving them one week’s time. Only after that period passes out, the parties will be able to form a majority government. The new government likely to be led by NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba will have very little time to prepare grounds for the second phase of the local level elections vital for institutionalizing the new constitution on federal, republic lines.
While addressing the nation from Singha Durbar, PM Dahal enumerated some economic indicators and actions as his government’s important achievements during his 10 months in office. Economic growth at 7.5 percent “never seen in the past several years”, bringing an end to perennial power crisis, noticeable reforms in the education and health sectors, enhancing the “balanced foreign relations” between the two close neighbours and signing the OBOR (one belt, one road initiative) with China and landmark agreement with India to expedite the postal road and other socio-economic cooperation, decisions to build the Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track and to build the 1,200-MW Budhigandaki Hydel Project with Chinese investment are some of them about which Dahal was quite ecstatic. He also answered some of the questions raised by his predecessor – KP Oli – without taking his name personally.
One of the biggest achievements of Dahal and his government was to hold the first phase of the local level elections relatively peacefully. This will pave the ground for holding the second phase of the local level elections, a major task for his successor. He said the successful conduct of the first phase of local level election is the “nation’s major achievement” which is an “important stride towards institutionalizing the hard-earned federal republic”. PM Dahal also worked “tirelessly” from the very beginning to bring the disgruntled Madhesi parties on board the election process by addressing their genuine concerns as much as possible though some of his initiatives – adding 22 more local level units in Tarai when the election schedules have already been made public – which were not free from controversy. This is his graceful exit from power in his second inning. He chose to resign, in his words, “to develop a coalition culture respecting the “written or unwritten agreement” between the major coalition partners” when he was elected PM breaking the nine months’ coalition with the CPN-UML. The new PM who will be elected in 10-12 days to come will have a daunting task to hold not only the second phase of local level election but also the provincial and parliamentary elections by January 21, 2018 as per the constitutional provision.
Wildlife crime persists in Nepal despite the efforts of the police and national and international agencies to curb it. On Tuesday the Central Investigation Bureau of the Nepal police arrested a gang of six with a large amount of pangolin scales and also a tiger skin. Pangolins are a protected species in Nepal and smuggling its body parts is a serious crime. The police team seized 44 kg of pangolin scales from the poachers who were intending to smuggle them abroad. Pangolin scales are sold for as much as $2,500 per kg in the international market. It is believed that poachers killed around 350 pangolins in order to acquire the scales seized. These scales are used to make bullet proof jackets and they have a huge market in China where it is used as medicines.
Pangolins in Nepal are estimated to number only 5,000 in 45 districts in the wild. These mammals are unique in that they are the only ones completely covered with scales. Moreover, they are a vital component of the ecology as they contribute to maintaining an ecological balance with one pangolin eating up to 20,000 ants and termites in a day.
The Himalayan Times, May 25, 2017