Daily Briefs

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The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #40, 17 July 2023, Monday

In Iran, the morality police return ten months after the protests

Move Forward Coalition re-nominates Pita again in Thailand

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #40, 17 July 2023, Monday
Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George, Ryan Marcus and Lakshmi Parimala H

Fiscal closure condition as a new hurdle to export of power to India
On 17 July, The Kathmandu Post reported on the bureaucratic hurdles put forth by India obstructing the export of power. The power trade director of the Nepal Electricity Authority stated that India had sought details of financial closure, detailing the financing of the projects. Although India has not stated the reason for the same, according to an NEA official, it is to check for any financing from any foreign countries, particularly China. India has long been looking over any Chinese investment, especially since the 2020 Galwan clash, refusing to buy power from any project with Chinese involvement. This therefore stands as an obstruction to the export approval process, which Nepal exports to India, causing spillage of surplus power. Despite the signing of many agreements on power, including the recent long-term agreement for the export of 10,000MW, in the words of an NEA official, “All these agreements will have no meaning until India grants export approval for our projects.” (Prithvi Man Shreshta, India puts up a new hurdle to importing electricity from Nepal,The Kathmandu Post, 17 July 2023)

The Alems demand end to Chinese persecution of Uyghurs
On 14 July, in a protest in Coz Bazaar under the ‘Alem Muktijoddha Projonmo Sangsad,’ the Alems, (Islamic scholars), demanded an end to the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province. Stating that ‘the Chinese government has been carrying out repression on 22 lakh Muslims keeping them confined in different detention camps for years,’ the speakers further urged the UN, EU, and global leaders to impose tougher sanctions on China. The predominantly Muslim Uyghurs are an ethnic minority, mostly living in the Xinjiang autonomous region of China. According to Chinese records, there are 12 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang. China has long been accused of committing genocide against the group. (Bangladesh: Muslim scholars demand end to Chinese persecution of Uyghurs,ANI, 17 July 2023)

Junta foreign ministry condemns ASEAN for not acknowledging its “peace” efforts
On 17 July, The Irrawaddy reported that a statement from the junta regime’s foreign ministry criticized the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for not acknowledging its alleged peaceful efforts to bring democracy in Myanmar. The ministry responded by saying that the statement from the bloc was “unfair and one-sided facts without reflecting the efforts of the member state to restore a genuine democratic system by peaceful means.” The ministry then stated that the association contradicts their own principle of non-interference in the internal matters of its members. The foreign minister of the junta regime was not part of the ASEAN’s high level meetings as they failed to implement the Five Point Consensus proposed by the association to bring peace. (“Myanmar Junta Condemns ASEAN for Ignoring ‘Peaceful Efforts to Restore Democracy,” The Irrawaddy, 17 July 2023)

Junta thwarted 6 years of dialogue for democracy: says KNU chairman 
On 17 July, the Karen National Union (KNU) Chairman Padoh Kwe Htoo Win said that dialogues with ethnic armed organizations that sought to create a federal and democratic union were derailed for six years by the junta regime. He was talking during the 76th anniversary of the Karen National Defense Organization (KNDO). The Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in 2015 signed by the KNU and other ethnic resistance groups served the purpose of engaging with the quasi-civil Asian government to bring peace for the political issues that led decades long armed conflicts.  (Myanmar Junta Blamed for Shooting Down Nationwide Peace Talks With Ethnic Armed Groups,” The Irrawaddy, 17 July 2023)

Pheu Thai has experience and personnel: says Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman
On 17 July, Sanan Angubolkul, Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, expressed his confidence in the formation of the government with a candidate from Pheu Thai Party as Prime Minister. He said: “Pheu Thai has experience in running the country; with several of its policies having been implemented successfully…The party also has the personnel with the capability and expertise to manage the economy.” Sanan urged the upcoming government to focus on disbursing unspent state funds and injecting cash into the economy for growth during the latter half of the year. He emphasized supporting small-and-medium-sized entrepreneurs to rebuild after Covid-19 and improving public services through digital transformation. Plans for the agricultural and industrial sectors to cope with El Niño's impact on water supply were also requested. (Pheu Thai power bid gains pace,” Bangkok Post, 17 July 2023)

Move Forward Coalition re-nominates Pita again 
On July 17, the Move Forward coalition decided to renominate MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat for the prime minister post on July 19 voting. If he fails, the Phew Thai Party will be given a chance. The coalition dismissed opposition from some senators due to Pita's failure to obtain a simple majority on July 13. Pita clarified that the PM nomination is not a motion, so the prohibition of resubmission does not apply. He hopes for more support from the senators on July 19. The coalition could have gathered majority votes in the PM bid without the participation of 249 senators. The Move Forward Party (MFP) proposed amending section 272 of the constitution due to senators' abstention on July 13. Pita remains firm on MFP's election campaign promise to repeal the lèse-majesté law despite opposition from senators and representatives. (Pita to get 1 more shot at PM position,” Bangkok Post, 17 July 2023)

There must be a clear answer rather than continuing the voting for PM: says Phumtham
On 17 July, Pheu Thai deputy leader Phumtham Wechayachai said that the Move Forward Party (MFP) cannot renominate Pita Limjaroenrat for the prime minister post owing to the economic situation of Thailand. Phumtham said: “We cannot wait until next year because national problems are now very serious. Do not worry about Pheu Thai's candidates. We have three candidates. When things are clear, we can make a nomination right away.” The recent announcement of MFP to amend Section 272 revoking the senators’ right to vote was not part of the MoU signed between the coalition members. The aim of the Move Forward coalition is to speed up the new government formation and he assured Pheu Thai of his allegiance to the coalition. (Aekarach Sattaburuth, “Impatient Pheu Thai warns Pita, eyes top job,Bangkok Post, 17 July 2023)

Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif thanks Sri Lanka for IMF Support
On 17 July, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, over a telephonic conversation, thanked Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe for helping to close the IMF USD 3 billion arrangement. He further acknowledged Sri Lanka as a friend and well-wisher of Pakistan and appreciated its contribution towards regional peace and prosperity. Shehbaz Sharif also expressed optimism about Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s recovery from the economic crisis.(Pakistan PM Shehbaz thanks SL president for support over IMF deal,Daily Mirror, 17 July 2023)

The Democrats set to choose their presidential candidate 
On 16 July, the Democrats decided to hold a primary election to choose its presidential candidate for the upcoming election. Hassan Latheef, the founder of The Democrats, said that the party will soon begin to accept applications for the primary. So far, no interest has been shown towards the party’s ticket. However, there is wide anticipation that Mohamed Nasheed will be fielded as the presidential candidate. (The Democrats to hold primary to select presidential candidate,” Avas,.mv, 16 July 2023)

The morality police return ten months after the protests
On 16 July, the morality police were back on the streets after ten months post the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in their custody, leading to nationwide protests. The Iranian authorities announced a new campaign forcing women to wear the Islamic headscarf. The protests by women over the hijab snowballed into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s clerical rulers. Following this, the presence of the morality force declined and was alleged to have been disbanded in December. However, on Sunday, the men and women of the morality police were seen patrolling the streets again. (“Iran’s morality police return after protests in a new campaign to impose Islamic dress on women,AP News, 16 July 2023)

Pakistan army chief meets his Iranian counterpart 
On 15 July, the chief of Pakistan’s Army, Syed Asim Munir, met the chief of joint staff of Iran’s armed forces, General Mohammed Bagheri. The meeting focused on developing military, educational and security cooperation. General Bagheri, mentioning the historical background of the two countries as the basis of the relations, emphasized the need for ensuring regional security by the countries in that region. The meeting comes after several incidents at the Iran-Pakistan border and attempts to cement military and economic cooperation between the countries. (“Pakistan army chief meets Iranian military chief,” Tehran Times, 15 July 2023)

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