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Big Three meet

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

NC, UML and the Maoists have held separate bilateral meetings and appear to have made significant headway in advancing the peace process forward. The meetings dwelt on issues of PLA integration, state restructuring, return of property illegally seized by the Maoists and the dismantling of the Youth Communist League. The Maoists have reportedly shown unusual flexibility, agreeing to return seized property and reconsider their proposed 14-state federal map. The Himalayan Times reports:

At the end of the bilateral meeting held at Hotel Sangrila here in the morning today, leaders of both the sides said they were moving towards a positive direction on the role of the high-level mechanism on the peace and constitution-drafing processes.

Talking to media persons after the meeting, Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ said he was optimistic about finding a solution to the problems that had surfaced in the peace process as today’s talks moved ahead positively.

He said that the meeting, the first after the death of the Nepali Congress president and former Prime Minister, Girija Prasad Koirala, felt that the major parties will be able to strike consenus on key issues of the constitution and the peace processes.

But the Maoist leadership will have to negotiate disgruntlement among their lower ranks as yet another Maoist cadre is killed, this time in Siraha on Saturday morning. Kathmandu Post reports:

Sub-inspector Sanubabu Thapaliya said Yadav, a member of Maoist’s Mithila State Committee and coordinator of the Trade Union Mithila State Committee, was gunned down while he was playing cards with friends at the residence of Indradev Shah.

The two-week old government committee set up to investigate the deaths of three women in Bardiya allegedly at the hands of Nepal Army personnel begins finally begins working, but is shrouded by doubts about its impartiality following comments by Defence Minister Bidhya Bhandari that the women were poachers. Additionally, an army investigation into the matter has already given clean chits to the concerned NA personnel. The committee is mandated to submit its report within 10 days. Republica reports:

The committee comprises representatives from Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Forests and Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

Local human rights activist, however, raised questions over the credibility of the committee citing the controversial remarks from Defense Minister Bidhya Bhandari on the incident. “There is a question of impartiality as the defense minister has already termed the deceased as poachers,” said Nanda Bhandari of Advocacy Forum.

He demanded formation of a probe panel led by a judge. “We have doubts over the impartiality of Gautam-led panel,” he added.

In happier news, load shedding hours may come down as rising temperatures have increased the water-level of rivers. Republica reports:

In a move that would give a huge sigh of relief to the people reeling under power cut for up to 84 hours a week, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) on Friday decided to reduce load-shedding hours by 14 hours a week.

As per the decision, there will be no power cut from 10 pm to 5 am. The decision was taken also keeping in view the ongoing SLC examinations.

We had said last year that we will not let the load-shedding hours exceed 12 hours a day,” Minister for Energy Prakash Sharan Mahat said. He added, “The decision has been made for the advantage of the SLC students as well.”

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