Dozens injured in protests against US grant pact as it is tabled in Nepal Parliament

                

Kathmandu [Nepal]: Dozens were injured in a violent protest against US grant assistance agreement worth 500 million USD as the Nepal government tabled it in Parliament seeking its ratification.

The violent clash which ensued near parliament since the morning of Sunday, left 17 personnel from Nepal Police and 7 from Armed Police Force injured, both the security agencies confirmed.
“Dozens of protestors have also been injured in clashes as they breached the perimeter and entered restricted zone near the parliament. We have arrested over four dozen protestors from the site as well,” Santosh Singh Rathore, spokesperson at the Metropolitan Police Office, Ranipokhari told ANI over the phone.

Protests in Nepal

The violent mob that marched towards the parliament pelted stones on police sloganeering against the government and US aid pact which was tabled during Sunday’s parliamentary meeting. In order to control the situation, the police also used 115 shells of tear gas as well as 30 rounds of rubber bullets as the protest continued for about 8 hours.

Apparently driven by disinformation, the public in Nepal are made to believe the MCC, a US Foreign Assistance Agency aiming to fight poverty, is a military pact. The subsequent effort of US mission in Nepal also has failed to quell it down.

The government under Sher Bahadur Deuba’s leadership, however, on Sunday tabled the MCC proposal formally opening the doors for parliamentary discussion and endorsement.

Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gyanendra Bahadur Karki tabled US grant Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact in federal parliament on Sunday.

“This proposal has been sent by US aid agency, MCC to Government of Nepal to build 400 KV capacity electricity transmission line and to improve as well as upgrade various road sections across the nation. The assistance that would be provided will stand at 500 million US Dollar in grant. Government of Nepal and MCC had signed an agreement on September 14, 2017, projects that would be undertaken through this pact should be completed within 5 years from the date of its adoption. Before this pact enters the phase of entry into force, it requires the majority of the House of Representatives and had been suggested by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, this proposal therefore has been presented forward for discussion and endorsement,” Minister Karki said.

While the Nepali Congress (NC) is already in favour of ratifying MCC, the CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN (Unified Socialist), were of the view of not submitting it without amendment.

On Sunday, the lawmakers from the ruling as well as the opposition parties continued their protest in the parliament against the proposal as it underwent process of tabulation.

After Minister Karki tabled MCC in parliament, Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota announced that the next meeting of House of Representatives would take place on Thursday, February 24. The MCC Compact will now be discussed in Parliament.

After the discussion, the lawmakers usually have time to propose amendments. However, such amendment applies only to the comments raised by the Government of Nepal or to any modification/amendment that may be made.

Amendments to the MCC do not currently exist. Therefore, the Speaker will decide from the discussion of the Business Advisory Committee whether to give 120 hours or five days given by the rules for making amendments.

Meanwhile, the US has conveyed to Kathmandu that it would be forced to review its relations with Nepal if the country fails to keep up with its commitments on the USD 500 million MCC grant signed nearly five years ago.

Earlier this month, US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu said that Washington will review its relations with Nepal in the event of its failure to ratify the MCC compact from Parliament by February 28.

The US government aid agency, MCC had agreed in 2017 to provide USD 500 million in grants cross-border electricity transmission and road connectivity. There has been a delay in Parliament approval for the project due to disagreements among political parties.

The multi-million dollar pact which needs to be ratified by parliament is being contested now as political parties of Nepal debated on whether to accept or reject it. Earlier, MCC vice president Fatema Z Sumar had said that the February 28 deadline was set by Prime Minister Deuba and Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal through a letter the two leaders dispatched to the MCC Board chairman, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

However, the MCC continues to hang in balance as successive governments in Nepal have failed to get the grant ratified by the parliament. (ANI)(image -instagramNepal)

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