MonitorsPublished on Aug 11, 2008
Ending the four-month old political deadlock, Nepal's Constituent Assembly (CA) elected CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda as the first Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. With 464 votes, Prachanda defeated his competitor,
South Asia South Asia Weekly 32

< class="maroontitle">Prachanda elected Prime Minister

Ending the four-month old political deadlock, Nepal's Constituent Assembly (CA) elected CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda as the first Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. With 464 votes, Prachanda defeated his competitor,  Nepali Congress candidate Sher Bahadur Deuba, who got 113 votes out of the 577 votes that were polled in the Assembly. The Maoists were able to get support of 20 other political parties including the two largest parties--CPN-UML and Madhesi Jananadhikar Forum (MJF). The pro-royalist party Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP-Nepal) also backed Prachanda’s candidature. Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP), Rastriya Janashakti Party (RJP) and Rastriya Jana Morcha (RJM) did not participate in the elections. Following the election, the three big parties– Maoists, UML and MJF have reached an agreement to form a 24-member cabinet. The Maoists would get 9 berths including Defence, Finance and Law, UML 6 with Foreign and Home Affairs and MJF 4 ministerial berths, and the rest would go to other smaller parties. The three parties are also in the process of giving final shape to the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) in order to run the government smoothly.

< class="maroontitle">Musharraf’s exit plan

Pakistan remained agog with the news of President Pervez Musharraf’s impending departure. The debate was whether the former Army Chief would step down or get himself impeached in the National Assembly. Musharraf maintained that he would not resign but rather face the impeachment proceedings. He felt that the charges against him were false and he stood a good chance of coming out of the impeachment proceeding a victor. Others, even his closest advisors, were not so sure. The Army was not keen on getting one of their chiefs humiliated by politicians in full public glare. They preferred a quite resignation against a public spectacle. The Americans made their position clear when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied any knowledge of Musharraf seeking asylum in the United States. The visit of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz to resolve a possible confrontation between the President and National Assembly  gave a clear indication of the turn of events about to unfold in Pakistan.

< class="maroontitle">Sino-Bangla military ties to grow

The China-Bangladesh received a fillip following the Bangladesh’s Army chief General Moeen Ahmed visit to China this week. Though Gen. Ahmed visited China as the head of the country’s Olympic delegation, it assumed significance as he met some top Chinese leaders including China’s Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and Vice President Xi Jinping. During the meeting, the Chinese leadership expressed interest to establish close military ties with Bangladesh. The Chinese Defence Minister said the People’s Liberation Army attached great importance to developing friendly and cooperative ties with the Bangladeshi armed forces.  Endorsing Defence Minister Xi said that it was a set of policy of China to strengthen Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Advisor of the military-backed caretaker government spelt out the foreign policy objective of the government. The objectives listed include-: stabilizing relations with neighbouring countries including its larger neighbours, the country wants to live in friendship and concord, but clearly as a distinct entity,  fostering cooperation within multilateral framework, expanding economic cooperation with developed and other developing countries, ensuring duty free access for the country’s product into foreign countries.

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Is the future looking bright for the LTTE?

No matter how hard Sri Lankan authorities try to convince the international community about LTTE’s waning influence and power, the reviews and assessments of the groups based out of Sri Lanka, however, had a different story to tell. The August edition of Janes’ Intelligence Review claimed that the annual income of the LTTE was around US $200-300 million making it the second biggest income generating group in the world after RAF (Revolutionary Armed Forces) of Columbia. The income was both by legal and illegal means. More than a glimpse of LTTE’s attempts to regroup was detected when Tamil Nadu Intelligence Q Branch arrested a group of LTTE sympathizers with a plan to dispatch  modern communication equipment and a consignment of potassium nitrate to the terrorist groups in Sri Lanka. It has been reported of late that Prabhakaran would wait out for a regime change both in India and United States which, he believes, would change the fortunes in his favour. He is also keenly awaiting the onset of monsoon in October which might put a break to the advancing Sri Lankan Army.

< class="maroontitle">Is Maldives a real democracy?

This week in a run up to the multi-party elections, presidential candidate’s debate to be telecast live countrywide was scrapped after President Gayoom refused to take part in it. The ruling DRP party called it a “waste of time” as Gayoom was busy in other important matters. This move has only triggered another round of debate questioning  the intentions of the Gayoom government in holding the elections. Many people in Maldives believes that Gayoom and his supporters were apprehensive about the possible outcome of the elections as there were young and dynamic rival leaders in the fray for presidentship.      

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

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


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