Nepal

OCHA Nepal Situation Overview Issue No. 54, 01 - 31 Oct 2009

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published
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Attachments

Highlights:

- Fiscal budget still not passed due to blockade of Legislature-Parliament

- New Disaster Legislation approved by the Parliament

- International Day for Disaster Reduction celebrated and marked by new risk reduction initiative

- Home Minister claims reduced criminal activities

CONTEXT

Political Developments

Efforts were made during the month by the major parties (the Nepali Congress (NC), United Marxist- Leninists (UML) and Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) to solve the political deadlock.

UCPN-M Chairman Prachanda met President Ram Baran Yadav on 30 September, reportedly for the first time since he resigned as Prime Minister on 4 May. The meeting was seen as a breakthrough in improving relations between the president and the UCPN-M Chairman. The President expressed concerns over the delay in the drafting of the constitution and called on Prachanda to expedite the process and to work towards successfully concluding the peace process "while taking heed of national integrity, sovereignty and the public interest". Prachanda assured the President of his commitment in this regard while noting the need to achieve a "national consensus".

On 2 October, the parties agreed to table a resolution in the Legislative Parliament (L-P) (Sankalpa Prastav) which would address the issue of civilian supremacy. It would also provide for the Government to amend the Military Act 2063, amongst other measures.

A task force comprising a member from each party - NC, UML and UCPN-M - was set up to try and agree on the wording of the resolution. The NC and UML drew up their own draft, which was then amended by the Maoists. The NC was resolutely opposed to any reference to the President that casts blame on his authority. UCPN-M on the other hand has stuck to its "bottom line" that the incorrect move by the President should be addressed. The party has demanded an amendment to the Interim Constitution and to the Army Act.

Meanwhile, the blockade of the L-P by the UCPN-M continued. This has created a problem in that the fiscal budget for the year could not be passed. Certain areas of government spending are exceeding 33% expenditure, which will create financial strain for certain sectors of the economy such as jail administration, public hospitals, food transportation for remote areas, schools reform projects, payments to Embassy staff and civil servants.

Minister of Defence Bidya Bhandari fuelled controversy by calling for new recruitment into the Nepal Army and for the revision of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). On 7 October, the Defence Minister reportedly told the Parliamentary State Affairs Committee that the CPA, which contains provisions restricting training, was affecting the strength and functioning of the Nepal Army (NA) and thus needed to be reviewed for the NA's "able and meaningful existence". She said that the NA was facing a "crunch" given the vacant posts and restrictions on training, and that NA personnel were needed for VIP security, peacekeeping and wildlife protection among other things. Senior UCPN-M leader Baburam Bhattarai subsequently criticized Minister Bhandari for violating the CPA by seeking its revision.

UNMIN responded by saying - as it has done in the past - that recruitment by either side would be an infringement of the CPA.

The UML-led coalition fuelled controversy by appointing Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. She took oath on 12 October. This appears to be a unilateral decision taken by the party president, G. P. Koirala. The appointment led to serious debate within the NC about how the party is run. The NC Mahasamiti meeting which began at the end of the month was discussing forms of leadership at with a majority in favour of introducing collective leadership.

Maoist Chairman Prachanda visited China and met the President Hu Jintao, bringing questions about the relationship of the UCPN-M to India.

On 23 October, a UCPN-M Standing Committee meeting issued a fresh ultimatum to the NC and UML. It proclaimed a deadline of 1 November to reach agreement on ending the political deadlock and for its various demands to be met, after which it said it will start a second phase of protests and possibly file a noconfidence motion against the UML-led government in the L-P. These demands have expanded beyond the resolution to also include: 1) abiding by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); 2) concluding the peace process; 3) finalizing the constitution-drafting process; 4) national sovereignty, and; 5) forming a Maoist-led national unity government. It seems that the UCPN-M's central goal, as stated publicly by senior leaders and also in some key documents, is to lead a new national government.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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