21-27 October 2016 #830

Suspended animation

Karki is now suspended from his post, but a two-thirds majority of 397 is required for his impeachment
Kunda Dixit

Bikram Rai
DECISIVE MOMENT: Nepali Congress leaders Ramchandra Poudel, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Shashank Koirala at the party’s Central Committee meeting Thursday to decide on the impeachment motion in Parliament against CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki.

Working swiftly and in top secrecy while Lokman Singh Karki of the anti-corruption agency, the CIAA, was enroute from Abu Dhabi, the UML and the Maoist Centre got 157 MPs to register an impeachment motion in Parliament on Wednesday evening. The move had a tacit nod from the Nepali Congress’ Sher Bahadur Deuba. The leaders didn’t suddenly get pangs of conscience, they had information Karki was preparing to file court cases against top politicians.

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Karki is now suspended from his post, but a two-thirds majority of 397 is required for his impeachment. Several senior NC leaders held out against impeachment at the Central Committee meeting on Thursday afternoon in Sanepa (above). However, NC’s Gagan Thapa and Dhana Raj Gurung want the party to endorse the motion.

Some NC leaders are worried that not joining the impeachment vote will have electoral reper-cussions. Karki’s impeachment issue could therefore have wider ramifications on national politics.

House Speaker Onsari Gharti cancelled her proposed trip to Geneva, and is expected to endorse the impeachment motion on Sunday. Thereafter, a 11-member parliamentary committee will summon Karki to investigate seven charges leveled against him, including overstepping his jurisdiction, violating the constitution, breaking the law, and unfairly persecuting individuals critical of him. The Committee must present its recommendation to the full House within seven days. Karki is already being investigated by the Supreme Court about his nomination for the post and has repeatedly ignored the Court’s summons.

A lot is still unknown about the process that made Karki CIAA chief in 2013. What was the role of former President Ram Baran Yadav, caretaker Prime Minister Khil Raj Regmi and other politicians? Why were watchdogs like Transparency Nepal, Amnesty International and media protection agencies silent during the extortion and witch-hunts of the past three years? Answers are needed to prevent powerful unaccountable officials rising up again in future.

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