Need for consensus grows as date for polls draws closer

    ANIL GIRI, Mar 30 2017

    The country is set to vote on May 14 to elect representatives at 744 local units to fill the democratic deficit that has plagued local development works for the last two decades.

    Political parties save a few have already started campaigns while there is palpable enthusiasm among people for local level elections which have not taken place since 1997. 
    But there are some concerns, especially in view of the growing trust deficit between Kathmandu and the Tarai. 
    The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, in particular has objected to the local elections on two grounds. First, it has taken exception to the Pushpa Kamal Dahal government’s move of declaring polls without addressing its demand of constitution amendment. Secondly, some Morcha leaders have maintained that [the central] government infringed upon the jurisdiction of provincial governments, which are yet to be formed, by declaring polls and they are calling for putting off May 14 elections and holding provincial and federal elections first.  
    They have announced protests and warned of disrupting polls. Hence security could be a major challenge when it comes to polls in Tarai districts, especially those in Province 2. 
    “It’s more about political will rather than security challenges,” Home Secretary Lok Darashan Regmi told the Post, downplaying fears of security threats. “Security challenges are minimal as we have already dismantled armed outfits in the Tarai. All four security agencies have already geared up for polls. If political forces decide to go the other way, polls could be affected,” he added. 
    The government is still in talks with the Morcha to convince the latter to participate in elections. Even hours before flying to China, PM Dahal was holding talks with Morcha leaders on March 23. He returned from China on Wednesday. For Dahal, addressing the Morcha’s concerns has become a moral obligation, as he had promised constitution amendment when he was elected prime minister in August last year. Before leaving for China, he had said there could be a breakthrough after his return.
    Talking to reporters on Wednesday after returning from China, PM Dahal said “nothing can stop local level elections slated for May 14”.
    “My government will work to create a favourable environment for elections,” he said, adding that the demands put forth by the Morcha would be addressed by next parliamentary elections. He, however, stopped short of mentioning the issue of constitution amendment.  
    Minendra Rijal, a central leader of the Nepali Congress, the largest party in Parliament, said his party “is trying to get all political forces on board elections”. “We are of the view that elections must happen and the constitution amendment bill should be approved for the same,” he said. 
    The main opposition, CPN-UML, however, holds strong opinions against constitution amendment. 
    The UML has maintained that the government should focus on polls and not on constitution amendment and that the constitution amendment bill tabled in Parliament is against national interest. “As of now it appears that the government is committed to polls,” said UML Chief Whip Bhanubhakta Dahal. But he would not rule out the possibility of government deferring the polls—if the constitution amendment bill fails to move forward—blaming the Morcha. 
    Ashok Rai of Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, one of the key constituents of the Morcha, said the fate of elections still hangs in the balance. 
    The agitating Madhes-based parties have told the government that one article of the constitution related to transitional provision should be scrapped, one independent article should be created for federal commission and the proposed federal commission should be made powerful with full authority to define the rights of the state, ascertain the number of states and their demarcation.  
    “If our proposal is rejected, it will be difficult for us to participate in polls. We have already made our points clear to the government; we are waiting for a response,” said Rai. “We already have our reservations about the constitution. Holding May 14 polls will mean one step ahead towards implementing the constitution. So our protest will continue until our demands are met.”

     

    "Nothing can stop local level elections slated for May 14"
    - PM Dahal

    "Elections must happen and constitution amendment bill should be approved for the same"
    - Minendra Rijal, NC leader

    "Government seems committed to polls but it may defer them blaming the Morcha"
    - Bhanubhakta Dahal, UML leader

    "We have put our proposal on government’s table. If it is rejected, it will be 
    difficult for us to take part in polls"

    - Ashok Rai, Morcha leader

    full story »

    Euro IV standard fuel to be sold from Sat

    Post Report, Kathmandu, Mar 30 2017
    Nepali motorists will be filling their tanks with Euro IV standard gasoline from Saturday as Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has agreed to supply the higher quality fuel to Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), said Sitaram Pokharel, spokesperson for the state-owned oil monopoly.

    full story »

    Trump’s planned UN cuts to affect NA’s wider deployment

    Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu, Mar 30 2017
    The plan of US President Donald Trump to significantly cut down the funding for the United Nations Peacekeeping operations is likely to affect the Nepal Army’s ambitious plan to double its presence in various war-hit countries across the globe.

    full story »

    Indian envoy Puri calls on PM Dahal

    Post Report, Kathmandu, Mar 30 2017
    Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri called on Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday.

    full story »

    Main News

    Sajha to expand bus service to Bhaktapur

    Post Report, Mar 30 2017
    Sajha Yatayat is all set to expand its services to Bhaktapur. If everything goes as planned, the cooperative public transport organisation, will roll out 20 buses on Kathmandu-Bhaktapur route from next week.
    full story »

    Internet addiction high among undergrads

    Post Report, Mar 30 2017
    A significant number of Nepali undergraduate students are found to be suffering from sleeping disorders due to their addiction to internet, according to a recent study.
    full story »

    Nepalgunj Transport chief suspended for licence irregularities

    Post Report, Mar 29 2017
    The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport has expelled under secretary and chief of Transport Management Office, Nepalgunj, Pawan Subedi, for his irregularities while distributing driving licences.
    full story »

    Money

    World

    Singapore has confirmed two cases of locally transmitted infections of the Zika virus in a northeastern part of the city state, the National Environment Agency said on Wednesday, describing it as the first Zika cluster of 2017.

    The viral disease carried by mosquitoes has spread to more than 60 countries and territories since an outbreak was identified in Brazil in 2015, raising alarm over its ability to cause microcephaly as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome.

    Singapore had already reported six cases in the first 12 weeks of this year, the agency's website shows. Last year, more than 400 people became infected with the virus, following discovery of the first case in August.

    "Both cases are residents in the vicinity and from the same household," the agency said in a statement.

    "Residents and stakeholders are urged to maintain vigilance and continue to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats."

    There is no preventive treatment against Zika, but drug companies are rushing to develop a vaccine.

    Although generally a mild disease, the virus is a particular risk to pregnant women as it can cause microcephaly - a severe birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

    An outbreak of meningitis in Nigeria has killed 269 people in recent weeks, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control said, as Africa's most populous country and aid organisations attempt to tackle the surge in infections.

    As of Monday, 1,828 suspected cases of meningitis were reported with 269 deaths in 15 of the country's 36 states, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Twitter late on Tuesday.

    The centre said on its website that 33 people died of meningitis in 2016.

    More than 2,000 people died from an outbreak of the disease in Nigeria in 2009, with basic healthcare limited in rural parts of the country, where most people live on less than $2 a day, despite the country's huge oil resources.

    Meningitis is the inflammation of tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord which can be caused by viral or bacterial infections. It spreads mainly through kisses, sneezes, coughs and in close living quarters.

    The NCDC said it was now working with the World Health Organisation, the U.N. Children's Fund and Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, to try to control the outbreak.

    Entertainment

    INTERVIEW

    Interview Subash Nembang

    Mar 27 2017
    Positive vibes are fine but inter-party talks have nothing concrete to offer yet With the Madhesi Morcha and the CPN-UML at loggerheads over the issues of constitutional amendment and federal demarcation, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal recently held discussions with leaders of the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the Samyukta Loktrantrik Madhesi Morcha in a bid to come to a consensus.
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    Health & Style

    Escalate

    Attitude makes all the difference

    Mar 27 2017
    After over three decades in the hospitality industry, Shreejana Rana, the executive director at Hotel Annapurna, has set an example for the many women looking to break glass ceilings in the sector.
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