Baram claims Nefin chair as NC, ruling coalition dominate results

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Jagat Baram with 31 votes beats Surya Bhujel from the UML camp by a marginof eight votes

Dec 22, 2016-Jagat Baram has been elected new chairman of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (Nefin) as ethnic organisations close to the Nepali Congress and its coalition partners nearly swept the election on Wednesday against organisations close to the main opposition CPN-UML. 

Nefin is an umbrella organisation of 59 Janajati and indigenous communities across the country. Nefin’s extended 9th General Convention announced its new office bearers on Wednesday morning.    

Baram defeated Surya Bhujel from the UML camp with a narrow margin. Baram had 31 votes against 23 of Bhujel. The majority of office bearers in the Nefin’s extended federal secretariat are from the NC camp. The secretariat constitutes a chairman, a general secretary and a treasurer, eight vice-chairpersons and 10 secretaries.

Baram’s victory looked secured even before the election after the NC reached a new power-sharing deal with the CPN (Maoist Center), the Sanghiya Samajwadi Forum Nepal, the Naya Shakti Nepal and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, in what the UML claimed the breach of “gentlemen’s agreement” to rotate the leadership. During Nefin’s eight general convention, the UML had helped NC candidate Nagendra Kumal win the top post as per the understanding. 

Though an autonomous and politically non-partisan organisation, Nefin holds much significance for political parties due to its well-laid grassroots network across the country and huge influence on the ethnic communities that constitutes more than a third of the total vote base. The deepening row among the parties over the key issues, including federalism, has only stoked the organisation’s importance.

Janajati leaders, critical of the last leadership, said Nefin’s new leadership would push forward the agenda of ethnicity-based federalism. Many were critical of Nefin’s outgoing chairman Nagendra Kumal and general secretary Pemba Bhote for failing to champion the cause of ethnicity-based federalism. The two are also Constituent Assembly members from NC and UML quota. 

Nefin has so far been refusing to own up the new constitution, citing their reservations to the state restructuring. In 2012, the government had agreed to demarcate 

federal boundaries on the basis of ethnicity while also taking  into account identity and capability.

Published: 22-12-2016 09:13

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