Nepali Times
This Week

Army boosts
Nepal Army (NA) has announced vacancies for 3,434 soldiers, including 250 officers, and invited applications from eligible and interested Nepali citizens on Monday. NA began the recruitment process following the Supreme Court dismissal of the cases against recruitment last week, who deemed it fell under the jurisdiction of the Joint Monitoring Committee. NA has requested the government to create a dozen new positions for special class officers, including two lieutenant generals.

In response to the NA recruitment drive, the People's Liberation Army, the military wing of the UCPN (Maoist), announced fresh recruitment starting from Tuesday. PLA deputy commander Chandra Prakash Khanal 'Baldev' told reporters in the capital that despite fresh recruitment, PLA strength will not exceed 31,315, the PLA's original strength before the UNMIN verification team brought it down to 19,604. "Committed Nepali youths above 18 with strong patriotic feelings can submit the forms at any of the seven cantonments across the nation,"
he said.

The Ministry of Defense objected strongly to the Maoist recruitment drive, and in a statement on Wednesday, said it would only create additional complexities and challenges in security management. This was, however, the fifth time NA had announced vacancies for various positions since the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

UNMIN has expressed deep concern over the fresh recruitments announced by NA and the PLA. "UNMIN's position remains that any recruitment by either the Nepal Army or the Maoist army constitutes a breach of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Agreement on the Monitoring of the Management of Arms and Armies," said a statement issued Tuesday evening.

Third time unlucky
Parliament failed to elect a new prime minister for the third consecutive time on Monday. UCPN (Maoist) candidate Pushpa Kamal Dahal obtained 259 votes while NC vice president Ram Chandra Poudel received 124 votes. Dahal had obtained 241 votes in the second round of voting. The CPN (M-L), Nepal Peasants and Workers Party, a few small parties and, significantly, 11 MPs from the Madhesi People's Rights Forum (Yadav) voted for Dahal but he fell short of the required 300 votes for a simple majority to form a government. The Business Advisory Committee of parliament has slated a fourth round for August 6.

Shyam Saran arrives
Former ambassador to Nepal Shyam Saran arrived in Kathmandu on Wednesday to try to fix Nepal's politics.
He is here as a special emissary of Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh.

"I am here to discuss his concerns with Nepali political leaders," he told reporters upon his arrival at the airport. "My role will be to facilitate a few political consultations among major parties for national consensus." His visit is just in advance of the fourth round of voting for the post of prime minister, scheduled for Friday, following three consecutive failed elections.

On Wednesday, the UCPN (Maoist) spoke out against the interference of foreign power centres in the ongoing deliberations to form a new government. But Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal met Saran along with other top Maoist leaders, subsequent to which Dahal's deputy Narayan Kaji Shrestha told reporters the talks were not about the formation of the new government. Saran then met leaders of the NC and UML.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)