Nepal urges India to allow passage of essential supplies

Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Friday urged India not to violate its transit rights and to resume delivery of essential goods and services.

Kathmandu: Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Friday urged India not to violate its transit rights and to resume delivery of essential goods and services.

Addressing parliament on Friday to pave the way to form a new government, Koirala said the agitation in Nepal's southern plain has created a very difficult situation in the country where imports have been disrupted for the last 50 days.

On the other hand, India has been rejecting Nepal's claim, saying it has not imposed any embargo against Nepal and it is due to tension on the Nepali side.

The Indian side has been claiming that due to the protests and unrest on the Nepali side of the border and at various entry points by Madhes-based political parties, cargo and freight operators have not been able to enter Nepal.

The Nepal government has written to the Indian government that it was ready to provide security to Nepal-bound cargo and freight once they cross the border.

Over 40 people have been killed in Nepal's southern plain in the last 50 days following unrest by Madhes-based parties, demanding corrections in the provincial model, proportional representation in various state entities and ensuring other civil rights and liberties in the constitution.

According to the Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), an umbrella organisation of Nepali entrepreneurs and business community, the strike in the southern plain by Madhes-based parties has led to losses to the tune of $1 billion.

"People have been suffering. The future of school and college students has been severely affected and industries have been ruined. The lives of farmers and workers are at risk due to the strike," said Koirala, adding that hospitals are facing acute shortage of medicines.

"I am concerned," he said, "such strike and agitation should not affect our social fabric, strength of the nation and Nepal's international relations".

Amid wide speculation, Koirala did not resign from his post but paved the way for elections to the posts of president, vice president, prime minister and speaker.

Nepal's parliament will now come up with a new plan for the election of the prime minister within a week, if consensus among the major political parties is achieved.

If no consensus can be reached within a week, parliament will begin the process of voting for electing the new prime minister.

It is not clear in the constitution whether the prime minister should resign or not to pave the way for the formation of the new government.

The prime minister, while trying to reach out to the agitating parties in the southern plain, said the government is ready to amend the constitution to address the demands and grievances of the Madhes-centric political parties. 

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