MonitorsPublished on Jul 14, 2008
With the political parties failing to reach a consensus on nominating the President, the Vice-President and Chairman of the Constituent Assembly (CA), it became clear that the issue would be resolved only through elections, scheduled now for Saturday (July 19).
South Asia South Asia Weekly 28

< class="maroontitle">Nepal to elect first President

With the political parties failing to reach a consensus on nominating the President, the Vice-President and Chairman of the Constituent Assembly (CA), it became clear that the issue would be resolved only through elections, scheduled now for Saturday (July 19).  The three big partiees, CPN-Maoists (CPN-M), Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) have proposed names of separate candidates for the top post and were busy forming alliances and seeking support for their respective candidates. The Maoists, NC and UML have fielded Ramraja Prasad Singh, Ram Baran Yadav and Ramprit Paswan as candidates for the top post, respectively.

A possible alliance between the Maoists, UML and subsequently with the Madhesi parties did not materialise after the Maoists rejected the UML and MJF candidates for the presidential post. This paved the way for a new alliance-- NC, UML and MJF. While  UML and MJF have pledged their support to NC's presidential candidate,  NC and UML would support MJF's vice presidential candidate. These alliances would make it difficult for the Maoists candidate to sail through as it was earlier expected. Doubts have thus emerged on the possibility of the Maoists forming the government.

< class="maroontitle">Jamaat chief, Khaleda’s son released

< class="maroontitle">The week saw the release of a number of influential persons arrested under various corruption charges and strong resistance to foreign intervention. Among the heavyweights released most significant were the release of Jamaat Chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s younger son Arafat Rahman Coco. Nizami,arrested in May this year on charges of corruption, was released on an interim bail for two months. . Arafat Rahman, on the other hand, was released for two months on an executive order on the ground of receiving treatment abroad. Arafat’s release was seen as a positive indication for the subsequent release of Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman in the near future. Media reports suggested that the spate of releases was an indication on the part of the government to play safe in the run up to the December elections and not instigate a protest movement against the government.

Another significant development was the widespread criticism of the US Ambassador’s meeting with different political parties on July 15. It was widely commented in the local media as an interference in the internal matters of the country. Media reports also suggested that certain foreign governments, including India, were keen on letting the present caretaker government continue in the saddle. 

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">SAARC summit throws life out of gear

While LTTE continued to be routed in areas earlier considered its stronghold, Sri Lankan authorities are keen on ensuring a safe and incident-free SAARC summit. Colombo, the venue of the summit, has become a mini-garrison with several measures underway to ensure fool-proof security to the visiting foreign dignitaries and journalists. Hundreds of squatters, mostly Tamils, in Slave Island were forcibly evicted from their homes recently, kicking off a spate of protests which was put down firmly, and in time.  The extraordinary security measures have only added to the travails of the common man coping up with a galloping inflation. As for LTTE, the news of the loss of its main naval base, Kilinochchi, could not have come at a worst time. The loss of the group’s direct link to Tamil Nadu only added to its mounting losses in the recent past.

< class="maroontitle">Spat over China in Maldives

Indian High Commissioner to Maldives A.K.Pandey refuted the remarks made by the Maldivian Democratic Party presidential candidate Mohammed Nasheed citing the Chinese presence in the Maldives as a threat to India.Nasheed on a visit to New Delhi had  criticized the China-centric policies of the current regime.  Responding to the widely reported comments, the Indian envoy asserted the cordial relations between Maldives and India and pointed out that there was no evidence of any Chinese bases in the Maldives. .. Despite such encouraging word from a traditional ally, the Gayoom regime suffered another blow when the Trade Minister Mohammed Jaleel resigned following tough questioning in Parliament over the non-completion of the three infrastructural projects. Jaleel was the third minister to resign from the government within the past fortnight.
< class="maroontitle">Storm brewing over US threat

Terrorism took centre stage in the country reeling under severe political and economic crises ever since the February 18 elections threw up an odd coalition between arch rivals, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN). While the government remain suspended with the rival partners refusing to give up rigid positions on President Pervez Musharraf and judicial restoration, Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani and his advisors were faced with the threat of the US forces walking into the country to take out the Taliban militia which had been increasingly posing an immediate threat to the US and NATO forces holding Afghanistan together. Gillani is quite adamant, in public, that his government will not be a party to the counter-terrorist operations in the tribal areas if the US forces were to participate in it. Though the US had been sustaining the country’s economy with over $10 billion worth of munificence in kind and cash over the past few years (along with Saudi Arabia, there is little love lost between the two countries. The threatening noises made by everyone from Bush downwards in the recent past of Pakistan being the focus of the War on Terrorism have added to the misery of the Gillani government.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                 – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee – Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       – Nepal, Bhutan
      • Wilson John                    – Pakistan


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