Vow to force Bhattarai govt out thru street protests
KATHMANDU, Feb 9: Terming it as yet another ploy to prolong their stay in power, top leaders of various opposition parties, including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have rejected the UCPN (Maoist)´s proposal to form a new government under the sitting chief justice for holding fresh election.
Addressing the joint protest rally organized by the opposition alliance in the capital on Friday, the opposition leaders vowed to force the Baburam Bhattarai-led government out through a fresh “people´s movement”.
As Friday marked the end of the first phase of 20-day “anti-government” protests, the opposition leaders also warned of “retaliatory” protests in the second phase of their protest programs if the prime minister did not step down immediately.
Sushil Koirala (Photo: Bhashwor Ojha)
Senior NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba taking strong exception to the Maoist´s proposal to form the new government under the sitting chief justice said, “We do not have any question about the competence of chief justice. But can a party propose chief justice as its new prime ministerial candidate? The proposal has clearly shown that the Maoists want to bring judiciary under its influence,” he said.
Addressing the rally, other opposition leaders, including NC Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel, Senior UML leader KP Sharma Oli, UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel, CPN-ML General Secretary CP Mainali, Rastriya Janmorcha Chairman Chitra Bahadur KC, and Co-chairman of Chure Bhawar Ekta Party Bhumi Raj Niraula, among others, also strongly flayed the Maoists proposal, accusing the ruling Maoist of trying to defer consensus.
Amid allegations by the ruling parties that the opposition parties´ protest was aimed only at securing the prime ministerial berth, many of the opposition leaders speaking at the function had spent much of their time explaining that their protests were aimed at ending Maoist “totalitarianism” and ensuring democracy, rule of law, human rights and checking corruption and other anomalies.
While criticizing the prime minister´s move to protect the murderers of Dailekh-based journalist Dekendra Thapa, they argued that proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) should not give general amnesty to those involved in serious cases of human rights violations during the conflict.
Jhalnath Khanal (Photo: Bhashwor Ojha)
According to police estimate, some 30,000 cadres from various nine opposition parties including NC, UML, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Rastriya Janashakti Party, CPN-ML, Nepal Sadbhawna Party (Anandidevi), Rastriya Janamorcha and Chure Bhawar Ekta Party had gathered in Khulla Manch, Kathmandu.
The protest march taken out by opposition parties through Bhadrakali, Sundhara, Naxal and Bhadrakali to Khulla Manch had brought vehicular movement in downtown Kathmandu to a standstill on Friday afternoon.
Addressing the rally, NC President Sushil Koirala said the countdown of Bhattarai-led government had already started. “No one had initially believed in our protests in 2006. Colonel Gaddaffi had also announced to finish off [his opponents]. Those who denied people´s rights and democracy have perished. Now the countdown of this government has also begun,” said Koirala. He also said that general amnesty to those involved in serious human rights violations was unacceptable. “The Maoists are talking of general amnesty in cases of serious human rights violations that took place during the conflict. That is not possible,” he added.
Mass meet at Khullamanch. (Photo: Bhashwor Ojha)
The leaders speaking in the rally had repeatedly referred to media report that quoted Prime Minister Bhattarai telling party cadres during the party´s convention in Hetauda that the opposition parties would have already taken the Maoist leaders to Hague if they were not in power. Likewise, the Maoist proposal to hold referendum to settle border disputes also invited strong ire of the opposition leaders.
UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal argued that current government was using Baluwatar and Singha Durbar to give refuge to criminals involved in serious human rights violations. Adding that Maoists were bent on imposing totalitarianism by rendering all constitutional bodies vacant, he also directed party cadres to prepare for stringent protests to oust the current government.
NC Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel alleged that Maoists were not willing to step down as they fear being defeated in the elections, prosecuted by anti-graft body and punished for their crimes against humanity. Likewise, RJP Co-Chairman Prakash Chandra Lohani alleged that Maoists were using the slogan of nationalism as means to prolong their stay in the government.
Opposition leaders. (Photo: Bhashwor Ojha)
UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel, RPP Chairman Pashupati SJB Rana, CPN (Samyukta) Chairman Chandra Dev Joshi, Rastriya Janamorcha Chairman Chitra Bahadur KC, NC Treasurer Chitra Lekha Yadav, NSP (A) General Secretary Ram Babu Singh held the prime minister and the UCPN(Maoist) responsible for the prolonged deadlock in the country.