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The brief on Tuesday

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Prosecution and promotion
The government has decided to prosecute former Chief of Army Staff Pyar Jung Thapa and several senior army officials facing charges of extra-judicial killings and human rights violations. A cabinet meeting decided to take legal action against the officials under the recommendation of National Human Rights Commission. Meanwhile, Republica reports that one of the army officials facing such charges, Major General Toran Jung Bahadur Singh, will be promoted to Lieutenant General despite pressure from the human rights community not to do so. Defence Minister Bidya Bhandari has been pushing for his promotion citing a number of Supreme Court precedents and insufficiency of laws to deal with the charge Singh faces. (Nagarik, Republica)

Budget vote
The House will vote on the budget today, after the Maoists agreed to open the parliament for three days following five months of obstruction. Speaking in the House before the budget discussions, the Maoist party’s deputy parliamentary leader, Narayankaji Shrestha, said they had no intention of blocking the parliament from passing the budget. “But we were compelled to obstruct the House functioning after the ruling parties declined to discuss the President’s unconstitutional move to reinstate the then army chief,” he said. Soon after Shrestha finished speaking, Maoist lawmakers walked out of the House leaving just three of their parliamentarians to fulfill formal obligations. (The Himalayan Times)

UML stir
Day two of CPN-UML drama continues: the party’s Chairman Jhalnath Khanal told his leaders that the party should be ready to quit the government in order to achieve a national consensus. At the party’s politburo meeting yesterday, he said there was an urgent need to end the growing anarchy in the party, just before Vice Chairman Bamdev Gautam stood up to speak and call the President’s move to reinstate the army chief unconstitutional. Khanal and Gautam have long argued for a national unity government, saying the peace process cannot reach its logical end without Maoist participation in the government. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has resisted the Maoist party’s pressure to table a resolution criticising the president in the parliament. His supporters slammed Gautam’s proposal, saying it was a perfect way to hand over control of the party to the Maoists.  (Kantipur)

Convention postponed
The UCPN (Maoist) party has postponed its general convention by a year to focus on the struggle for ‘civilian supremacy’. Maoist Vice Chairman Narayankaji Shrestha said the convention was moved to January 2011 in order to launch effective protests against the government, and to focus on the peace process and constitution-writing. The party has not held its general convention in 18 years.  (Republica)

The kicker:
“I didn’t say I talked to Girija Prasad Koirala about unseating the government. ” Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kama Dahal in Kathmandu on Monday

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