A private TV channel based in Delhi broadcast an audio tape conversation supposedly featuring Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara asking for Rs 500 million from a Chinese man to buy votes for Maoist candidate Pushpa Kamal Dahal, two days ahead of the sixth round of prime ministerial voting. On the tape, a man alleged to be Mahara discusses possible meetings with an unidentified person.
Both Mahara and the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu have denied involvement, and the authenticity of the audio tape is yet to be verified. The NC, UML, and civil society members have demanded an independent probe.
Two rounds of prime ministerial elections, on 5 and 7 September, failed to secure a win for either of the candidates from the Maoists and the NC. The UML and the Madhesi alliance remained neutral during both rounds of voting, despite threats from Upendra Yadav's MJF faction to cross the floor to vote for the Maoists. An eighth round of voting is scheduled for 26 September.
Roll on, UNMIN
After much dillydallying, the government has sought a four-month extension for UNMIN. The letter filed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) through Nepal's permanent representative to the UN, Gyan Chandra Acharya, has also asked UNMIN to monitor 'Maoist combatants, their cantonments and arms' while remaining silent on its role over the Nepal Army.
Briefing the UNSC on Tuesday, UNMIN chief Karin Landgren highlighted the risks to the peace process posed by the unresolved leadership battle. "The biggest risk of all may be that the peace process and parliamentary processes appear discredited, sending a discouraging signal to existing and emerging groups about taking the democratic route to push for change," she said.