Talks moribund as CPN-M refuses to budge
Final round of dialogue tomorrow‚ but foregone conclusion is that it’s just a formality
KATHMANDU: They are done with the talks, almost, and they are back to square one. The High Level Political Committee today formally decided to wrap up ongoing negotiations with the CPN-Maoist after sitting for one more round of dialogue on Wednesday. The decision to this effect came after the three major political parties — the Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML — realised that the CPN-M would never participate in the Constituent Assembly polls even if poll date was rescheduled, as demanded by the CPN-M, for somewhere between March and April, HLPC sources said. At today’s HLPC meeting, leaders of three major parties shared the contents among them, which they had separately discussed with the CPN-M in the past three-four days.
Sources said the three parties, during their separate meetings with the CPN-M, had expressed their willingness even to defer the poll date to March/April if the latter expressed commitment, in writing, to take part in the election. “But the CPN-M appeared to be non-committal. We sensed that they wanted to prolong the transition as they do not seem to believe that the CA would be able to draft a new constitution. We also felt that they had their own projection about the poll result,” sources familiar with talks said.
The HLPC, despite not finding any positive signal from the CPN-M, has, however, decided to show maximum flexibility on its part. UCPN-M leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the HLPC was ready to increase the proportional representation and first-past-the-post ratio (which was 58:42 in 2008 elections); to induct the dissenting parties into the HLPC, or to scrap the HLPC altogether; to give more time for voters’ registration; to include representatives of dissenting parties in the government; and to hold a round table conference to discuss the issues they had raised. But that didn’t cut no squares with the CPN-M.
The cross-party panel will hold talks with Upendra Yadav-led eight-party Federal Democratic Front-Nepal and Ashok Rai-led Federal Socialist Party tomorrow and Mohan Baidhya-led CPN-M on Wednesday, according to Shrestha.
Govt, Baidhya to talk today
KATHMANDU: The government is set to hold dialogue with the CPN-Maoist, first formal one between the two parties, at Hotel Himalaya in Lalitpur on Tuesday. According to Minister for Information and Communications Madhav Paudel, Minister for Home Affairs Madhav Prasad Ghimire will lead the government talks team. CPN-M Chairman Mohan Baidhya will lead the the alliance led by his party in the talks.
Govt‚ CPN-Maoist-led bloc hold ‘positive’ talks
KATHMANDU: The government and CPN-Maoist-led alliance of agitating political parties held talks on Tuesday afternoon. Both the sides said today’s talks was “positive.” In the meeting held at Hotel Himalaya, Kupondole today, the 33-party alliance floated the 18-point proposal, which includes postponement of November 19 elections, before the government also. Last week, the alliance had forwarded the proposal, full of demands, to the High Level Political Committee (HLPC).
Emerging from the meeting, CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung informed that the meeting was positive to forge an agreement as both the sides see no alternative to drafting new constitution and forming new government through elections. According to Gurung, who headed the talks team of the protesting parties, the alliance urged the government to forge new consensus since the election is impossible on November 19. In its list of demands to get on board the election process, the alliance has pointed out the need for a new national consensus and the cancellation of the March 13 agreement among the four political parties and the 25-point presidential decree.
Likewise, postponement of the November 19 polls, nullification of the electoral laws and election schedule, dissolution of the interim government, and conduction of an all-party round table conference are demands mentioned in the 18-point charter of demands. Today’s meeting concluded with a decision to seek consensus in the next round of talks on Thursday. For that, the 33-party alliance will form a task-force, said government Spokesperson Madhav Prasad Paudel.
Uniformed Maoist rebels torch 11 buses
MANILA: Fifteen heavily armed suspected members of the Communist New People’s Army (NPA), posing as policemen and wearing camouflage uniforms, torched 11 passenger buses worth $1 million and owned by a former lawmaker in Laguna province in Southern Luzon, the military reported on Monday. Colonel Ivan Samanta, the provincial military commander, said the suspects apparently took advantage of the stormy weather brought by typhoon Utor to attack the garage of the HIM Transport Incorporated in the tourist town of Pagsanjan, Laguna shortly before dawn on Monday.
HIM stands for the initials of Homer I. Mercado, the owner and former party list member of the House of Representatives whose buses ply the route between Southern Luzon and Metro Manila. According to Samanta, the suspects who were on board two vehicles arrived at the HIM garage at 1:30am Monday and were allowed entry by telling the private security guards they were policemen assigned to check the presence of illegal drugs inside the compound.
“They held the security guards at gunpoint and forcibly took their cellphones as they set the 11 buses located at the motor pool on fire,” Samanta said. He added, however, that before they left, the suspects returned the cellphones to the guards. Aside from the NPA insurgents, Samanta said they are coordinating with the police that another possible motive for the burning was a bitter dispute between the company’s labor union and management.
Egyptian police arrest 2 workers in Suez for inciting strikes
Police arrested two workers at a Suez steel company on Monday who have been accused of leading strikes, a company official told Ahram Online. Following the arrests, the striking workers tried to block a key highway from Suez to Ain Al-Sokhna, but were prevented by the Egyptian army. The two workers arrested were part of a group of fifteen accused by company management of inciting workers to strike, said Mohamed Soliman, head of legal affairs at the private sector company.
The workers have been on strike at their factory in Al-Ataqa industrial zone in Suez for three weeks, demanding higher bonuses and allowances. Suez Steel is a private sector company which employs 2,200 workers on contracts and another 2,000 day workers, according to Soliman, who added that the workers’ syndicate committee had resigned after failing to mediate between the workers and company management. Last week, the company threatened to cut down its workforce in response to the strike, claiming profit losses worth LE925 million over the past three years.
Suez Steel was established in 1997 and was 80-percent owned by Banque du Caire. The company was privatised in 2007 and purchased by Solb Misr which is owned by Gamal El-Garhy, a prominent Egyptian businessman. Currently, Solb Misr owns subsidiaries Misr National Steel and Egyptian Company for Iron & Steel Products alongside Suez Steel. Solb Misr, along with Beshay Steel and Egyptian Steel share 35 percent of the market. Ezz steel is the dominant steel producer in Egypt and MENA with around 55 percent of the local steel market. Steel imports represents the remaining 10 percent. Solb Misr’s steel production capacity stands at two million tonne per annum.
Farmers protest after report allege their land has been sold to politicians and businessmen
FARMERS in Kitwe’s Mfubu ranch yesterday protested over reports that their land had been sold to politicians and businessmen. The farmer’s alleged that the Kitwe City Council (KCC) had sold over 1,750 hectares of their land which they had been occupying for many years to others. Group representative, Kelvin Silwela said the farmers had been occupying the land in question for a long time and had nowhere to go. Mr Silwela said the farmers walked from Mfubu ranch in Wusakile Township to the roundabout along the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriage way where they were intercepted by police in riot gear. But KCC director of human resource and administration Wisdom Bwalya who addressed the farmers said Mfubu ranch was state land.