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The brief on Thursday

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Major Niranjan Basnet, one of the four army officers accused in the Maina Sunuwar murder case, is currently serving in a US peacekeeping mission, Republica reports. Fifteen-year-old Sunuwar was killed by the army in 2004 after being subjected to severe torture while in custody in Kabhre. Army Spokesperson Ramindra Cheetri said Basnet was deployed on a UN mission because “he was not found guilty during investigation. Due to the reason [sic.], the army’s court martial did not punish him.” In fact, the Kabhre District Court ordered Nepal Army to suspend Basnet for his role in the murder, who was a captain at the time of the incident. (Republica)

Not about taste
Districts in mid-Western and far-Western region that rely on government subsidy for rice and salt are facing an acute shortage of the essentials because the government has not delivered them. Eleven villages in Mugu have not had any salt in the past year. In Bajhang, 31 villages have had to do without salt for the past three months while residents of Dolpa also ran out of the goods months ago. Where available, people are buying salt for Rs 120 per kilogram. The only road to transport these goods into Karnali region – Karnali Highway – has been obstructed for five months. The alternative is to use the airways but the government has been reluctant to do so because of the expenses. (Kantipur)

Lots of strikes
Sister organisations of the Maoist party have decided to organise additional strikes as part of their third phase protest program to attain ‘civilian supremacy’. All Nepal Trade Union Federation has announced a nationwide strike on 10 December that will halt all transport and shut down industries. The student wing of the party will take a yet-to-be-determined symbolic action against educational institutions on 1 December. The Maoist party has asked all its affiliated organisations to organise protest programs raising their own demands. (The Himalayan Times)

China aid
China has agreed to increase its annual assistance to Nepal by 150 million, in addition to Rs 30 million in food assistance, Rs 100 million in military aid and Rs 20 million towards the cost of building a consulate in Lhasa. The vice president of the Tibetan autonomous region offered the assistance at a meeting with government officials in Kathmandu yesterday. The food assistance will go to districts bordering Tibet and to Karnali region in particular. The Chinese delegation also spoke with NC President Girija Prasad Koirala and UML chairman Jhalnath Khanal to discuss their internal security concerns. (Kantipur)

U.S. warns the army
The United States, Nepal’s second largest military assistance provider, has warned the Nepal Army of serious consequences if it promotes any army officials accused of human rights abuse.  “In the absence of a full and credible investigation clearing them of wrongdoing, the promotion of any individual implicated in human rights abuses could have consequences for our relationship,” U.S. embassy spokesperson, Nicole Chulick, said.

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