Daily Briefs

Photo : Supremecourt.gov.np

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #12, 14 June 2023, Wednesday

SC issues show cause notice against Dahal and Bhattarai

Maldives political instability: NIAS NR Daily Update


By Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George and Lakshmi Parimala H


SC issues show cause notice against Dahal and Bhattarai

On 14 June, The Kathmandu Post reported on the Supreme Court of Nepal issuing a show cause notice against PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal and former PM Baburam Bhattarai. The defendants were asked to provide in writing whether they recruited child soldiers. However, the petitioners demanded an interim order to be issued against the two. The petition was filed by ex-Maoist soldiers on the grounds of war crimes, asking the court to take action by establishing a national tribunal in coordination with the UNSC. In 2007, during the verification process for the army integration by the UNMIN, thousands of fighters were disqualified for being minors. While the combatants who voluntarily retired were provided with between Rs. 500,000 and Rs. 800,000, the disqualified were given merely a few thousand rupees by the UN. Therefore, this petition is seen as a reaction to their exclusion in the transitional justice process. (“Court issues show cause notice against Dahal, Bhattarai over use of child combatants,” The Kathmandu Post, 14 June 2023)

Schools being closed as temperatures rise

On 13 June, five schools in the Gulariya Municipality in Bardiya were closed due to extremely hot weather conditions prevailing for the past two weeks. The students have been reported to be falling sick due to the rising temperatures. The temperature in Bardiya has been crossing 40 degrees Celsius this summer. The extremely hot weather conditions have affected also affected farmers and daily wage workers in the Tarai region (the lowland region in southern Nepal). (Rupa Gahatraj, Kamal Panthi & Sanju Paudel, “Hot weather makes life difficult in Tarai,” The Kathmandu Post, 14 June 2023)

Chinese efforts to unite Nepal’s communist parties

On 12 June, ANI reported that China is coordinating efforts to unite communist parties in Nepal, establishing the Communist Party of Nepal, as PM Dahal is set to visit China in July or early August. It states that the Chinses Embassy in Nepal, along with the Ambassador and a group of intellectuals from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) in Nepal are working together for the same. The parties include CPN Maoist Centre, CPN Unified Socialist Party, Netra Bikram Chand (Biplab), and Mohan Baidya. The Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Chen Song, has been involved in political discussions, including negotiating with the ruling coalition during the presidential election to avoid its collapse. (“China steps up efforts to unite Nepal's Communist Parties ahead of Prachanda's trip,” ANI News, 12 June 2023)



Drones to capture the ‘Tiger’s Nest Monastery’

On 13 June, ANI reported on Paro Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The temple is situated on the cliffside of Bhutan’s upper Paro Valley. The use of drones to capture aerial footage and reveal the architecture of the monastery opens up new ways of portraying Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage, thus attracting tourists worldwide, and bolstering tourism. The monastery was founded in the eighth century by Guru Padmasambhava, one of the founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism. (“Bhutan's Paro Taktsang Monastery attracts both pilgrims, tourists,” ANI News, 13 June 2023)



Rise in child mortality

On 14 June, The Daily Star reported on the child mortality rate. According to the report, it rose to 31 per thousand infants in 2022, compared to 28 per thousand in 2021. On 13 June, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) released ‘Bangladesh Sample Vital Statistics (BSVS) 2022. The national population is estimated to be 17.85 crore as of 1 January 2023. On the other hand, a few indicators, such as maternal mortality rate, literacy rate, and internet users have shown improvement. BSVS is a report prepared to determine the annual population change at national and district levels, based on 138 indicators. (Moudud Ahmmed Sujan, “Significant rise in child mortality in 2022,” The Daily Star, 14 June 2023)

Dhaka to receive USD 1 billion budget support next week

On 14 June, The Daily Star reported that Bangladesh will receive budget support of USD 1 billion in the next few days. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will send USD 400 million each, while Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will send USD 216 million. The three loans are subject to conditions to be met by Bangladesh. Two of the major conditions are to amend the Income Tax Ordinance, 1984, and secure the cabinet approval for the Bangladesh Public Procurement Authority bill. (Rejaul Karim Byron, “$1b in budget support arrives next week,” The Daily Star, 14 June 2023)



Over 6,000 killed in 20 months after the coup: Peace Research Institute of Oslo report

On 14 June, the Peace Research Institute of Oslo said that 6,337 civilians were killed in Myanmar between 01 February 2021 to 31 September 2022 and left 2,614 injured.  Stein Tonnesson, one of the two co-authors of the report said: "Our data shows that the human toll of the conflict is higher than previously reported, and while the junta is clearly the main killer, anti-junta forces also have large amounts of blood on their hands." The numbers circulated in the international organizations were much lower than the actual toll. According to the report, 3003 deaths were attributed to the junta regime while 2152 deaths were to the armed resistance groups. (“6,000 Myanmar civilians killed in 20 months post coup: report,” The Hindu, 14 June 2023)

Trade in rupees with India

On 12 June, Myanmar’s trade minister U. Aung Naign Oo assured that the new mechanism to speed up the trade settlements with India will be operational soon. The minister met a delegation from the Engineering Export Promotion Council in the eastern city of Kolkata. Shortages in foreign exchange reserves in Myanmar would compel it to accept Indian rupees, along with Thai Baht and Chinese renminbi. It is expected that trade between the countries would significantly increase with the new mechanism. Punjab National Bank (PNB) was authorized earlier by the Reserve Bank of India to open a special rupee vostro account (SRVA) to do transactions with Myanmar. The report says that PNB approached CB Bank and UAB Bank in Myanmar to open SRVA, but the Myanmar government wanted to include other banks in the mechanism. (“India asks Myanmar to expedite trade through rupee: exporters' body,” Reuters, 12 June 2023)



Kolkata-Bangkok highway likely to open in four years

On 13 June, during a business conclave organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the commerce ministers from various countries and provinces in the region expressed optimism that the trilateral highway connecting Bangkok with Kolkata will be completed in three to four years. According to Thai Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vijavat Isarabhakdi, the highway in Thailand has been finished, while Myanmar's Commerce Minister Aung Naing Oo expects the completion of the highway in his country within the next three years. (“Kolkata-Bangkok highway opening likely in 4 years,” The Times of India, 14 June 2023)

Election commission to scrutinize Pita’s parliament membership

On 12 June, Reuters reported that the election commission will analyse Pita Limjaroenrat’s qualification that allowed him to contest in the elections last month. The commission looking into his qualification will check whether his shares in the media firm, ITV, makes him unfit as a parliamentary candidate. He may have to face ten years in jail and will be barred from contesting in elections for twenty years. Election Commission chairman Ittiporn Boonprakong said: "There is sufficient information to suspect that the candidate is unfit or prohibited from seeking public office, according to electoral regulations, to further investigate Pita."(Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng, “Thailand's poll body to investigate PM frontrunner Pita,” Reuters, 12 June 2023)



President to address high-level panel discussion in Paris

On 14 June, French President Emmanuel Macron extended an invitation to President Ranil Wickremesinghe to address a high-level panel discussion at the Global Leaders' Summit for a New Global Financing Pact. The meeting is scheduled to be held in Paris during 22-23 June. The summit aims to lay a framework for a new financial system to meet shared global challenges which include poverty, climate change, and protection of diversity. (“Sri Lankan President invited to speak at Global Summit on New Global Financing Pact,” Newsfirst, 14 June 2023)

Customs advises removing the ban on vehicle imports as revenue falls short

On 14 June, Daily Mirror reported that the Sri Lanka Customs officials told the Parliamentary Committee on Economic and Physical Plans to remove the ban on vehicle importation as it may not achieve the revenue target set in the budget. During the discussion, the customs officials stated that the revenue collected up to May is only LKR 330 billion while the full-year target is LKR 1, 226 billion. They further estimated that at the current rate of progress, only LKR 783 billion can be gained by the year-end. Before the import bans came into place owing to the forex shortage, vehicle imports accounted for about 20 per cent of the state revenue.  (“Customs revenue below target amid import ban on vehicles,” Daily Mirror, 14 June 2023)



Maldives political instability: NIAS NR Daily Update

On 13 June, the opposition coalition PPM-PNC held protests, demanding the release of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, their leader, presidential candidate and a former president. Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef Umar and many general members were arrested. The opposition coalition demanded their release and blamed the government for arresting them without any notice.

The opposition also accused the government of being involved in the trial of Yameen stalling the case. The PPM’s Deputy Leader Ahmed Shiyam said that despite the presence of separation of powers, President Solih is influencing the working of the judiciary over Yameen’s trial, thereby violating the law.

EC to work with five organizations to ensure a smooth election process

On 13 June, the Election Commission signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) with five organizations aiming for collaborative efforts in ensuring a smooth Presidential election process. The five organizations include the Maldives Police Service, the Civil Service Commission, the Department of National Registration, the Maldives Post Limited, and the local government. The Election Commission’s President Fuad Thaufeeq exclaimed, “I have no doubt it would significantly ease our workload while making the work also more complete.” (“EC signs agreements with 5 organizations for elections,” Sun.mv, 13 June 2023)

Standing committee to be reconstituted

On 13 June, the parliament decided to slate the reconstitution of the standing committee after multiple failed attempts over disagreements among political parties.  The reconstitution was mooted by the abrupt resignation of 13 MPs from the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The failure to reconstitute the standing committee has led to the halt of the regular working of the parliament. (“Reconstituting committees slated for Wednesday’s parliament sitting,” Sun.mv, 13 June 2023)

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