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Four Madheshi parties announce fresh agitational programmes in Nepal

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Kathmandu: At a time when the process of drafting Nepal’s new constitution has gained momentum, four dissident Madheshi parties announced fresh protest programmes on Friday.

Objecting to the 16-point deal reached among the four major parties on June 8, the four disgruntled Madheshi parties — Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, Nepal Sadbhavana Party, Tarai Madhesh Democratic Party and Tarai Madhes Sadbhavana Party — decided to go for fresh agitation beginning on July 11, Xinhua news ageny reported.

According to a statement issued by an alliance of the four Madhesi parties, the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), on Friday, they would hold a mass assembly in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu on July 12, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ending continuous differences over the past eight years on key contentious issues of the new constitution such as federal system, forms of governance and electoral system, major parties of Nepal struck the 16-point deal on June 8, which had paved the way to ensure the drafting a new constitution.

The four major parties agreed to federate the Himalayan country into eight provinces on the basis of economic viability and identity through the new constitution.

According to the agreement reached among the major parties, the government will form a high-level commission with a six-month mandate to take decisions over demarcation of the federal units. The Madheshi parties have objected to the formation of such a commission stating that this was against the provision of the Interim Constitution.

The protest programmes jointly unveiled by the four parties include showing black flags in public places and holding mass assemblies in Kathmandu and major cities till July 25 across the country.

Last week, the UDMF had burnt the copies of the draft constitution in Kathmandu as part of its first round of protest against the 16-point deal.

The Madheshi parties have been stating that the first draft of the constitution did not resolve the issue of federalism and provision on citizenship mentioned in the first draft was discriminatory for Madheshi people.

“The first draft of the new constitution is against the spirit of the Interim Constitution, past accords and recent ruling of the Supreme Court and aspirations of Madhesis, indigenous nationalities and marginalized communities,” a leader of the alliance, Laxman Lal Karna, told reporters in Kathmandu. He also argued that such a constitution was unacceptable to these communities, including Madheshis.

Earlier, issuing an interim order against the 16-point deal, the Supreme Court of Nepal had said that a new constitution without names and borders of the provinces would be against Articles 138 and 82 of the Interim Constitution. The Madheshi parties are urging the major parties to respect the court’s ruling in line with the Interim Constitution.

Despite strong objection of the Madheshi parties and the interim order of the Nepal’s Supreme Court, the major parties — the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist and Madheshi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) — have geared up for drafting the new constitution.

According to the action plan endorsed by the Constituent Assembly on Thursday to seek public feedback on the preliminary draft of the constitution, lawmakers from various parties are visiting 240 electoral constituencies and 75 districts.

(IANS)

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9 Climbers Pulled From Snow After A Sudden Storm On Mount Gurja, Nepal

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

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Mount Gurja
Tourists take pictures at Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Mount Annapurna range in the background, some 200 km (124 miles) west of Kathmandu, Nov. 30, 2008. Annapurna, at 8,091 meters high, is the 10th highest mountain in the world.. VOA

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the mountaineering community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 meters (yards) away.

“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Mount Gurja
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp.

A second helicopter along with a team of rescue specialists and villagers were also involved in the mission, which has been hampered by strong winds as well as the camp’s remoteness in the Dhaulagiri mountain range of Nepal’s Annapurna region.

The bodies of the climbers, five South Koreans and four Nepalis, will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

‘Like a bomb went off’

The expedition’s camp was destroyed by the powerful storm, which hit the area late Thursday or Friday, flattening all the tents and leaving a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

Mount Gurja
Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, organised the expedition

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Experts puzzled

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Also Read: Nepal Saves Its Tiger Population, Doubles It

“At this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places,” Richards said.

The team had been on 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route. (VOA)