Indian army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor will arrive in Nepal on January 31 on a four-day visit starting January 31 at the invitation of Nepali Chief of Army Staff Chhatraman Singh Gurung, a Nepali Army source told The Himalayan Times.
Kapoor’s visit to Kathmandu will further cement ties between the two armies. Last month, CoAS Gen Chhatraman Singh Gurung had visited India.
President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav on Friday urged political parties to work together to draft the constitution on time by sorting out differences through dialogue.
Speaking at the inauguration of Kathmandu Peace Marathon at Dashrath Stadium, Dr. Yadav said the country is going through a difficult transition and political parties have the important responsibility of drafting the constitution as scheduled.
“I urge all the parties to move forward realising their responsibilities of institutionalisation of the democratic republic,” said the president.
The peace rally was organised by Madan Bhandari Sports Academy (MBSA) as part of a campaign for successful implementation of the peace process.
Defence Minister and MBSA Chair Bidhya Bhandari, and Patron of the Academy and senior CPN-UML leader K.P. Oli were also present at the opening ceremony.
Expressing their solidarity to end violence, killings and strikes across the country, thousands of representatives from social organisations, sports and youth organisations, ministers and Constituent Assembly members, among others, took part in the peace rally that started from Dashrath Stadium, Tripureshwor and ended at Basantapur.
Indian Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor will be visiting the Himalayan republic this month to be decorated with the honorary title of general of the Nepal Army.
Gen Kapoor, who assumed office in 2007 and kicked up a controversy last month by opposing the induction of Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas into the Nepal Army, will resume the tradition of Indian army chiefs visiting Nepal to receive the honour after four years.
The Indian general will arrive on a four-day visit starting Jan 31, highly placed Nepal Army sources told IANS. He is coming at the invitation of his Nepali counterpart, Gen Chhatraman Singh Gurung, who visited India last month.
Marking the sea change in Nepal since the last army chief’s visit in 2005, Nepal’s first president Ram Baran Yadav will confer the general title on Kapoor instead of King Gyanendra, who was then the titular head of the Royal Nepalese Army.
Nirmal Chander Vij was the last Indian general to visit Kathmandu in April 2003, within four months of being sworn in as the Indian Army chief. During his four-day visit, he had received a sword from Gyanendra.
The fag-end of Vij’s tenure in 2005 saw the king try to seize power from the elected government with the support of the army, which led to the abolition of monarchy in Nepal, till then the world’s only Hindu kingdom, as well as estrangement between the Indian and Nepal armies.
The Indian government suspended its military assistance in Nepal following the coup and Vij’s successor, Gen Joginder Jaswant Singh, skipped the Nepal visit during his term due to the escalating turmoil in the Himalayan nation.
The ice between the two armies was broken in December 2007 when then Nepal Army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal visited India and was conferred the honorary title of general of the Indian Army despite his questionable human rights record and proximity to the deposed king.
Now Kapoor’s visit to Kathmandu will further cement ties between the two armies. The visit, however, is expected to trigger protests by the former Maoist guerrillas, who were angered by his statement in New Delhi last month opposing the merger of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the national army, saying it would lead to the politicisation of the army.
Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who headed the PLA for 10 years to wage a guerrilla war on monarchy in Nepal, condemned the statement, saying it revealed “naked Indian intervention” in Nepal’s internal affairs.
Since then, Prachanda has asked the new government of Nepal as well as the current Indian government to clarify their positions vis-a-vis the Indian chief’s remarks.
The Maoists have also warned of an indefinite general strike nationwide from Jan 24 over their protracted feud with the government over the army.
Nepal Tuesday sounded its first alarm for the pandemic swine flu with the health ministry publicly disclosing that the number of reported cases had jumped to 150 from the earlier 48.
However, the government media Tuesday quoted a senior official of the Avian Influenza Control Project under the ministry of health and population as saying that the actual number could be still higher since outbreaks in remote villages would not be reported immediately.
The ministry made the disclosure following the death of two patients, both women, this month, the first reported swine flu deaths in Nepal six months after the H1N1 influenza was reported in Nepal.
Capital city Kathmandu has been the hardest hit by the virus, accounting for 35 of the 150 reported cases.
Two other popular tourist destinations have reported outbreaks with Kaski, the district where Pokhara city is located, accounting for 32 cases, and Chitwan on the Indian border, famed for its wildlife, reporting 23 cases.
Six more districts have confirmed the occurrence of swine flu, including Lalitpur in Kathmandu valley, another popular tourist destination, and three districts on the India-Nepal border: Ilam, Sunsari and Morang.
There is a possibility of swine flu spreading among communities, like it did in Parvat in western Nepal where 11 people tested positive in one go.
Despite the leap in the number of reported cases, Nepal is badly equipped to deal with the disease.
Currently, there is just one laboratory in Kathmandu where confirmatory tests can be carried out.
Most of the patients are male – 106 – with around 60 percent cases occurring in people aged 15-45 years.
However, the ministry said that over 99 percent of the cases were mild in nature with the patients responding soon to treatment.
The two dead are a 31-year-old woman from Chitwan who died Dec 5 after remaining at the intensive care unit of the Janamaitri Hospital in Kathmandu for 25 days, and a 29-year-old woman from Bhaktapur district, who succumbed to the influenza Dec 24 at Bir Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal’s oldest hospital.
The names of both victims have been withheld due to requests by their families.
The first cases of swine flu were reported in June when three members of a Nepali family arriving from the US tested positive for the disease at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
Subsequently, though mass outbreaks were reported in the western districts of Parbat and Baglung last month, no deaths were reported.
However, with swine flu deaths crossing 880 in neighbouring India, Nepal that daily sees hundreds of migrant workers heading for the southern country in search of work or returning from there, has been living with the fear of mass infections just as HIV and AIDS spread to the landlocked republic from India in the past.
There have also been cases of border villages forcing sick people out of their homes and ostracising the family due to unfounded fears that they had contracted swine flu during their sojourn in India.
The World Health Organisation says over 11,500 people have died due to the H1N1 flu worldwide.
Six months after the first swine flu cases were reported in Nepal, the pandemic has claimed its first victims in the country, with two people succumbing to the virus.
Nepal’s state media Monday reported the death of a 30-year-old woman at Bir Hospital, Nepal’s oldest hospital, due to the influenza she contracted while undergoing treatment for renal failure.
The patient, whose identity has not been revealed due to requests from her family, came from Bhaktapur town and had been admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital 19 days ago, doctors said.
She died Thursday, succumbing to multiple organ failures, said Pradip Koirala, the attending physician.
According to health ministry officials, another woman, who had been admitted to the Janamaitri Hospital in Kathmandu, also died of swine flu last month. But the death was not made public immediately.
She was a resident of Chitwan, a popular tourist destination in southern Nepal, the official media said.
There are over 50 reported cases of swine flu infections in Nepal. However, due to lack of diagnostic facilities in remote towns, it is feared that the number could be higher.
The first cases were reported in June when three members of a Nepali family arriving from the US tested positive for the disease at the Tribhuvan International Airport here.
Subsequently, though mass outbreaks were reported in the western districts of Parbat and Baglung last month, no deaths were reported.
However, with swine flu deaths crossing 852 in neighbouring India, Nepal has been living with the fear of mass infections just as HIV and AIDS spread to the landlocked republic from India in the past. Hundreds of workers from this country head south to India every day.
There have also been cases of residents in border villages forcing sick people out of their homes and ostracising the family due to fears that they had contracted swine flu during their sojourn in India.
The World Health Organisation estimates over 11,500 people have died due to the Influenza A H1N1 virus worldwide.
Health experts fear Nepal would be unable to cope with an epidemic since barring the health posts at its lone international airport in Kathmandu, there is little organised effort to screen people entering overland from India.
Nepal will ask the UN to extend its mission in the country, currently monitoring the Maoists arms and its personnel, for four more months, to take the peace process to its logical end, a minister said on Thursday.
The tenure of United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) that is monitoring the ongoing peace process in the country since 23rd January, 2007 will expire on 23rd January, 2010.
“The government will ask the United Nations to extend the tenure of for another four months,” Minister for Information and Communication Shanker Pokharel told journalists after a cabinet meeting.
The government is tentatively planning to conclude the peace process before the deadline of drafting the new constitution expires on 28th May, 2010.
Earlier ten political parties belonging to the ruling alliance have asked the government to extend the tenure of UNMIN for another four month.
“We have decided to extend the term of the UNMIN to complete the rehabilitation and integration of the Maoist combatants,” Pokharel said.
The UNMIN headed by United Nations Secretary General’s Representative Karen Landgren is currently monitoring the arms and the soldiers of the Maoists confined in seven main cantonments and 21 sub-cantonments.
Republic Nepal’s first President Ram Baran Yadav will visit New Delhi in February, making it his maiden visit abroad since assuming office last year, a newspaper reported Friday.
The daily quoted foreign ministry sources as suggesting that the president would leave for New Delhi on a three-day visit Feb 15 and that his meeting with his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil was scheduled Feb 16.
But the foreign ministry in Kathmandu told IANS that the visit dates had not yet been finalised.
Yadav, a former physician who did his MBBS from West Bengal’s Calcutta Medical College and his MD from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Research in Chandigarh, became the first commoner to become Nepal’s head of state, replacing erstwhile king Gyanendra.
Yadav became Nepal’s first president after a historic election that saw the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal formally abolish monarchy to become a federal republic.
Though the 61-year-old was invited by Chinese President Hu Jintao to attend the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he had declined the invitation, citing the political turmoil in Nepal.
But the Nepali prime minister at that time, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, accepted Beijing’s invite to attend the closing session of the Games, triggering a controversy over his decision to visit China before India.
Traditionally, India, Nepal’s biggest trade partner, has been the first port of call abroad for the country’s premiers after assuming office.
When Yadav was elected president in July 2008, he was congratulated by Indian President Pratibha Patil, who extended an invitation to visit India.
However, he hardly had time to accept the invitation, being involved in a controversy since May this year.
The president, who is also the titular head of the army, locked horns with the Maoist government earlier this year by preventing them from sacking the chief of the army, Gen Rookmangud Katawal. Yadav reinstated the fired general, consequently causing the fall of the Prachanda government.
Since then, the former guerrillas have been leading disruptive public protests against the new government and the president. They have also kept parliament under siege, allowing it to convene only for a brief while to pass the budget.
Yadav’s reported visit to India would create a piquant situation in the absence of a deputy to officiate for him.
Soon after the presidential election last year, Nepali lawmakers elected former Supreme Court judge Paramananda Jha to be the republic’s first vice-president.
But Jha fell foul of nationalists after he took the oath of office and secrecy in Hindi and was ordered by the Supreme Court to take the oath in Nepali or face suspension.
Jha refused to take the oath again and consequently, since August, Nepal does not have a vice-president.