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Identifier
Created
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03KATHMANDU1072
2003-06-11 05:56:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

WEEKLY NEPAL MEDIA REPORT: JUNE 3 - 9, 2003

Tags:   OPRC  PGOV  PREL  KMDR  NP 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 KATHMANDU 001072 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC PGOV PREL KMDR NP
SUBJECT: WEEKLY NEPAL MEDIA REPORT: JUNE 3 - 9, 2003

- STATE FOR NP, AC, PM
- STATE FOR IN/R/MR
- STATE FOR SA/INS, PM/CBM, PM/PRO
- STATE FOR SA/PPD

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 KATHMANDU 001072

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC PGOV PREL KMDR NP
SUBJECT: WEEKLY NEPAL MEDIA REPORT: JUNE 3 - 9, 2003

- STATE FOR NP, AC, PM
- STATE FOR IN/R/MR
- STATE FOR SA/INS, PM/CBM, PM/PRO
- STATE FOR SA/PPD


1. POLITICAL AFFAIRS

KING APPOINTS NEW PRIME MINISTER

-- King Gyanendra appointed (6/4) Surya Bahadur Thapa
as the new Prime Minister. Thapa's appointment bri
ngs
to an end the controversy over "transfer" of the
executive powers from the cabinet to the crown,
following a royal decree on October 4. A press
communique issued by the Royal Palace Press Secretariat
said the cabinet will enjoy all executive powers as
provided by the Constitution. CPN-UML and four other
political parties, which proposed Madhav Kumar Nepal's
candidature for the prime ministership, have expressed
their dissatisfaction over Thapa's appointment.
Seventy-five-year-old Thapa has been appointed to the
top post for the fifth time in his political career
that dates back to 1958. He had served three times as
Prime Minister during the Panchayat era and once headed
a coalition government after the restoration of
democracy. Prime Minister Thapa said Wednesday the
"King has cleared" the issues raised by the opposition
with whom he "will seek a dialogue to end the current
dangerous crisis in the country." (Compiled from press
and electronic media reports, 6/5)

-- Prime Minister Thapa was sworn in today (6/5), but
the formation of a new cabinet will take longer as the
five main political parties have refused to join his
government. (Media reports, 6/6)

-- "Thapa likely to expand cabinet today (6/9)". 3
ministers from Ratryia Prajatantra Party (RPP), 2 from
previous cabinet." (Headline in the centrist "Kathmandu
Post, E/D, 6/9)

-- Nepal, Deuba go against prime minister's hope for
support: CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal
and president of Nepali Congress (Democratic) Sher
Bahadur Deuba rejected Prime Minister Thapa's offer to
them to join the government. (Media reports, 6/9)

-- Koirala puts condition for support: Nepali Congress
president Girija Prasad Koirala offered to support the
Surya Bahadur Thapa Government provided it would

recommend revival of the dissolved House of parliament.
(centrist "Kantipur," V/D, 6/7)

PM PLEDGES FOR PEACE AND ELECTIONS

-- Prime Minister Thapa pledged (6/7) that his
government would evolve a national consensus in order
to solve the Maoist problem. He appealed to all the
political parties including the Maoists to come around
to a national consensus and facilitate the people to
exercise their right to elect a new government at the
center as well as the local level. Major political
parties have taken Thapa's address to the nation as not
different from the traditional ones in its essence and
meaning. (Media reports, 6/7)

PARTIES' REACTIONS

-- Prachanda sees foreign hand in PM change: The
Maoists have accused the establishment of moving in the
direction of unfortunate confrontation by staging the
"drama of change of government" in the interest and
direction of foreign forces. Prachanda adds that the
Maoists' stance towards the new government would be the
same as towards the Chand government on the dialogue
table, reiterating that constitutionally the Thapa
government was not very different from the Chand
government. (Media reports, 6/5) Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
said, "There is no elemental difference between his
predecessor and him. He would do better to continue
the four-month-old peace process." ("The Kathmandu
Post," 6/5)

-- Regressive move, says UM
L: The meeting of the
standing committee of the UML on Thursday labeled
Thapa's appointment as a "continuation of regression."
("Kantipur," 6/5)
-- Five parties flay appointment: The five major
political parties have flayed the appointment of Thapa
as the new Prime Minister. They have claimed that the
new move taken by the King was only eyewash and would
merely strengthen regressive tendency. The parties
collectively denounced the appointment and ruled out
any possibility of joining the government. (Media
reports, 6/5-6)

-- Former Nepali Congress Minister skeptical: "Thapa's
chance of his making an all-inclusive government is
nowhere in sight. A most probable scenario is that his
cabinet would consist of old Panchayat politicians
rejected in the electoral process. Mr. Thapa will have
to show all his skill and dynamism to prove that this
will not be so, and what he means is nothing short of
the immediate and full reactivation of the
constitution, which is the fundamental law of the
land." (Op-ed in the "Kathmandu Post, 6/7, by Dr. Ram
Sharan Mahat, former Finance Minister and a Central
Working Committee member of Nepali Congress Party)

-- Constitutional experts find appointment faulty:
Constitutional experts have termed the recent move of
King Gyanendra to appoint Surya Bahadur Thapa as the
new Prime Minister of being faulty and claimed that the
repeated use of Article 127 of the Constitution would
lead the country towards further confusion and chaos,
published reports said. (Nepalnews.com, 6/5)

-- Foreign hands: Security analysts claim that Chand's
resignation was a result of the growing influence of
the U.S. intelligence agency in Nepal's internal
affairs. India became suspicious over the U.S.'s
increasing interest in Nepal and mobilized all its
energy to resolve Nepal's problems. When parliamentary
parties proposed U.S.-trusted Madhav Nepal, even Sher
Bahadur Deuba, the honest actor of the U.S.
intelligence agency, supported the proposal. It was
almost sure then that Nepal would become the new Prime
Minister. But Indian heavy weights - former PM Chandra
Shekhar, former Ambassador K.V. Rajan and Nepal expert
S.D. Muni, came to Kathmandu and played crucial roles
to get Thapa to the post of prime minister. The Royal
Palace remained merely a spectator, it was helpless.
India beat America. (leftist "Janadharana," V/W, 6/5)

-- Nepal has turned into a playground for foreign
powers. The biggest question facing Nepalis today is
where this foreign interference will take the country
and its people's sovereignty. The recent visit of K.V.
Rajan raises an interesting point of inquiry. It was
during his visit Thapa emerged as a candidate for
premiership, despite the recommendation of the five
political parties. The nomination, however, did
highlight one thing clearly: India intends to turn
Nepal into another Sikkim. Thapa is a puppet. (leftist
"Dristhi," V/W, 6/3)
-- "No foreign hand in my appointment, says Thapa."
(centrist "Rajdhani," V/D, 6/7)

-- Students demonstrate: Student bodies of the five
agitating political parties demonstrated in the capital
Wednesday immediately after the announcement of the
appointment of Surya Bahadur Thapa to the post of Prime
Minister. (Nepalnews.com, 6/5)

-- Nepali Times editorial: "...the West has always been
allergic to that pseudo-radical party name, and
regional players had their own favorite who was not the
UML general secretary. It is an indication of how weak
we have become as a state that diplomats this time
didn't even bother to conceal their meetings with
political leaders and express their preference for
leadership..." (Nepali Times, 6/6)


2. PEACE TALKS

-- King must abdicate: Dr Bhattarai: Senior Maoist
leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has disclosed that they
had approached King Gyanendra to abdicate as a
condition for resolution to the Maoist-led insurgency
in the country. The proposal was, however, not

acceptable to the King, said Dr. Bhattarai, addressing
a rally in Gorkha (6/8). "In response to our written
set of demands, the King had let it be known through
the ministers that he was not ready to give up the
throne and the army. He had however agreed to the rest
of the demands," Dr. Bhattarai said. Dr. Bhattarai
demanded that the King must be ready to give up the
throne and the army. "We are ready to give him both
the posts of the prime minister and the president," he
said. He also said that his party would accept the
King's stand only if he succeeds in curbing foreign
interference in the country. (Media reports, 6/9)

-- Maoists to take to streets: Four months after the
government-Maoist ceasefire, the Maoists today
announced a nation-wide people's movement, which they
said would be peaceful and exert pressure on the
government for the success of talks. (Reports, 6/9)
-- Foreigners told to keep off Nepal affairs:
Intelligentsia specially targets British envoy for his
remarks on Nepal: The intelligentsia in Kathmandu us
unhappy with the excessive interest of foreign envoys
and diplomats in Nepal's affairs and their prescription
of solutions to the problems plaguing Nepal. "The
British ambassador cannot talk about Nepal as if it is
Britain," said Neelamber Acharya, a leftist
intellectual. (pro-India "Himalayan Times," E/D, 6/7)

-- Maoists not to sit for talks until demands proposed
at second round met: Maoists will not sit down at the
negotiating table for the third phase of talks with the
government until their political demands presented at
the second round of talks last month are met, a rebel
leader at the contact office in Kathmandu who did not
want to be identified by name said. (Nepalnews.com,
6/5)

-- "Old regime" to be blamed if talks fail, warns
Prachanda: Maoist President Prachanda warned (6/3) that
the "old regime" would be responsible for any
consequences likely to arise in case the peace talks
failed despite their last-hour efforts to make it a
success. The statement said that attempts have been
made to run the Royal Nepal Army in the American way.
Prachanda said in the statement that foreign forces are
active in engineering the conflict between the palace
and the political parties. ("The Kathmandu Post," 6/4)

-- Maoist shot dead in "encounter": A Maoist cadre was
killed (6/3) when security forces stationed at the
Khimti Hydroelectric Project and a group of armed
Maoists clashed with each other in Ramechhap district.
The security forces arrested a woman Maoist soon after.
(Media reports, 6/4)

-- Prachanda asks Americans to quit Nepal: A recent
central committee meeting of the Communist Party of
Nepal (Maoist) has decided to appeal to the people to
launch campaign to force "American imperialists out of
Nepal". According to a press statement signed by
Prachanda, the party has decided to hold consultations
on how to wage a war against the imperialists. ("The
Himalayan Times," 6/3)

-- Maoist leader accuses King of preparing to impose
military rule: Member of the Maoist talks team Ram
Bahadur Thapa alias Badal suspects the King is working
secretly to impose military rule by terminating the

SIPDIS
ongoing peace talks. Badal pointed towards the
incidents of U.S. interference, dissolution of the
Chand government and the Information Minister's
expression on the consensus on code of conduct of the
Royal Nepal Army (RNA) as signs of incoming martial
law. Blaming the U.S., Palace and RNA, Badal accused
them of plotting against peace talks when the consensus
from the second round of talks did not favor their
motive. ("The Himalayan Times," 6/3)


3. POLITICAL PARTIES' MOVEMENT

-- Parties demand Royal assets be made public: Five
major political parties at the mock Upper House session
(6/8) demanded that the Royal assets including that of
late King Birendra and his family be made public.
(Reports, 6/8)
-- Maoist-parties joint agitation likely:
Maoist leader
Ram Bahadur Thapa "Badal" said (6/7) that efforts were
underway to draw up a common strategy and program to
give the ongoing five-party movement a new height.
("The Kathmandu Post," 6/8)

-- Upper House members stopped outside Parliament: A
group of Upper House members, led by the vice-chairman,
was today denied entry to the Singha Durbar premises
where the parliament secretariat is also located. Then
it decided to sit at the main gate of the premises and
conduct the meeting. It was for the first time in
Nepal's parliamentary history that the incumbent
members of the parliament were barred from entering the
central secretariat of the government. The members of
the Upper House -- the National Assembly -- were trying
to enter the parliament building to hold a "special
meeting", which was expected to adopt resolutions
against the October 4 royal move. ("The Kathmandu Post"
and others, 6/7)


4. TIBETAN REFUGEES

-- Tibetans were 'illegal immigrants', claims China:
The Chinese government today asserted that 18 Chinese
nationals deported by Nepal were illegal immigrants and
their handing over by the Nepali authorities was in
conformity with the international norms and practices.
Without mentioning the United States, Britain, United
Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) who have
criticized the government of Nepal for their
'repatriation', China said politicizing or adopting
"double standard" would not be conducive for proper
settlement of the issue of "illegal immigrants". The
Government of Britain and the Amnesty International
criticized the "repatriation". A British Embassy press
statement said, "The United Kingdom deplores the
government of Nepal's deportation of 18 Tibetan asylum
seekers, including eight minors, to China." (Compiled
from "The Kathmandu Post" and others, 6/4)

-- No shift in policy: Nepal: Amid growing
international outcry against deportation of 18 Tibetan
refugees to China by Nepal, Nepal has reiterated that
there is no shift in its policy towards the Tibetan
refugees. UNHCR, the U. S. and German Governments have
expressed outrage over the deportation. The statement
issued by the U.S. embassy said deportations had
violated existing international norms on human values.
The U.S. also said it regretted Nepal's unfortunate
change in policy. (Media reports, 6/4)

-- China to punish 18 Tibetans: "The Kathmandu Post"
(6/5) quoted AP and reported "China will punish a group
of 18 Tibetans who illegally crossed into Nepal and
were sent back to China last weekend, a Communist
Party newspaper said on Monday."

-- U.S. has no concern for Bhutanese refugees: The
U.S., U.K, EU and UNHCR have criticized the
government's act. However, the U.S. that showed deep
concern for the issue of a dozen Chinese refugees has
remained silent on the trouble and pain that Nepal has
faced due to Bhutanese refugees. (editorial in centrist
"Bimarsha," V/W, 6/6)


5. BUSINESS/ECONOMY

-- Garment export to U.S. on rise: Garment exports to
the United States, which absorbs almost 85 per cent of
the total garments exported abroad from Nepal, grew for
the tenth month in a row. ("The Kathmandu Post," 6/5)

-- Forex in good shape: Foreign exchange reserves stood
at Rs.115 billion until mid-April, enough to finance
imports for more than 11 months, the Nepal Rastra Bank
said. (Nepalnews.com, 6/6/03)


6. OTHERS

-- New York art museum to show Nepali music tools:
Several traditional Nepalese musical instruments will
be put on permanent display at the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in New York. The items consist of traditional
Nepali wind, cymbal and percussion instruments. They
have been gifted by monk Krishna Man, former chief
librarian of the American Center in Kathmandu, to the
museum. (government-owned "Rising Nepal," E/D, 6/7)

-- Staging of "Death of a Salesman": The play "Death of
a Salesman" by Arthur Miller, the inaugural production
of a theatre
program of the Central Department of
English at Tribhuvan University, will be staged through
June 6 to 8 at Lincoln School. The program is a part
of the effort to create a Nepal-America
Interdisciplinary Studies Program (NAIS). The play is
being presented with the cooperation of Royal Nepal
Academy, USEF/Nepal and the American Center. The cast
includes teachers and students at the university.
(press and media reports, 6/6/03)

-- U.S. triples HIV/AIDS funding: U.S. President George
Bush approved a 15 billion US dollar funding for the
United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS,
Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003, a statement
issued by the U.S. Embassy here said today. (Media
reports)

-- NORAD expresses concern over fund misuse: Norwegian
Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) has shown
serious concern over the misuse of funding for girl
students in remote Himalayan district of Humla. ("The
Kathmandu Post," 6/6/)

-- American artist's Nepali songs: The American Center
launched (6/3) Josh Brody's CD "Soaltee", which
features Nepali songs by him and Nepali artists. All
the proceeds from the sales of the CD will go to the
Nepal Bhotia Education Center in Sankhuwasava, which
Brody established four years ago. Brody came to Nepal
in 1994 from the USA and returning home on 6/4. (Media
reports, 6/3-5)

-- Monkey business: Conservationists and officials
concerned with wildlife are uptight over a recent
health research-cum-treatment conducted on rhesus
monkeys by the U.S. primate center and its local
partner at Swayambhu. For two reasons. One: It was
done illegally. Two: Certain quarters feel the
treatment of the monkeys was but an insidious beginning
of a sinister design. In a move that will not only
enrage wildlife enthusiasts but will also draw protests
from devout Hindus, the U.S. center is seeking
permission to set up a subsidiary in Nepal and to use
monkeys for bio-medical research. ("The Himalayan
Times," 6/3)

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