Nepal PM to probe `bribery scam` tape

PM Madhav Kumar Nepal underlined his determination to probe the "bribery scandal".

Last Updated: Sep 14, 2010, 22:08 PM IST

Kathmandu: Prime Minister Madhav Kumar
Nepal on Tuesday underlined his determination to probe the "bribery
scandal" linking a top Maoist leader in a bid to get to the
bottom of the horse trading controversy, saying it was an
attempt "to defame the republican system" in the country.

The case involving UCPN-Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur
Mahara surfaced on September 4 after an audio tape was leaked
to the media in which he was reportedly heard asking a Chinese
official Rs 50 crore, apparently for weaning away Madhesi
lawmakers ahead of the seventh prime ministerial run off.

Nepal, leading the caretaker coalition following his
resignation on June 30, said the government would investigate
the scam to dig out the truth.

A tape containing voices of Maoist leader Mahara and a
Chinese agent had emerged in which the Maoist leader was
purportedly heard demanding Rs 50 crore from a Chinese
official?allegedly to buy 50 lawmakers to ensure supremo
Prachanda`s victory in the Prime Ministerial run-off on
September 5.

Nepal told mediapersons at CPN-UML`s Dhanusha party
office in south-eastern Janakpur city that the Unified
CPN-Maoist had belittled the newly adopted republican system
with their bid at horse trading.

"Such an act by the Maoists is an attempt to defame
the republican system more than democracy. It has made a
mockery of the republican system," the prime minister said.

"The telephonic conversation involving Mahara is being
discussed at parliament and the government will also probe
into the case," he was quoted as saying by The Himalayan Times
online today.

The Maoists, however, have claimed that it is an
attempt at character assassination. Mahara has dismissed the
tape as "fabricated, misleading and fictitious."

Nepalese lawmakers have failed to elect a new prime
minister even after seven rounds of Parliament voting, with
Maoist chief Prachanda and his Nepali Congress rival R C
Poudyal unable to secure a majority support, deepening the
over two-month political crisis in the country.

The prime minister underlined his party`s policy not
to allow the UCPN-M to lead a new coalition unless it turned
into a civilian party.

"Handing over the control of the state to a party,
which has not given up its penchant for capturing power
through revolt, cannot be good for democracy," he said.

Nepal said the "the trust deficit has deepened like
never before" between the Maoists and the ruling alliance, but
he had "stepped up dialogue to rebuild trust and create
environment for cooperation and consensus."

The Nepalese prime minister said the environment for
consensus and cooperation could be regained if the Maoists
displayed their commitment to the peace and
constitution-drafting processes.

Nepal government and the main opposition today agreed
on a last-minute pact vowing to complete the stalled peace
process in the next four months, paving the way for a final
extension of the UN Mission in Nepal that was set to set to
expire tomorrow.

The caretaker government led by Prime Minister Madhav
Kumar Nepal and the UCPN-M inked a four-point agreement that
pledges to complete the three-year-old peace process by
January 14.

The government and the UCPN-Maoist today sent a consensus request to the United Nations to renew the term of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for the "last
time" for four months, with continuity for the existing mandate, after the Prime Minister and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal `Prachanda` agreed on the four-point agreement yesterday.

"We have agreed primarily to complete the remaining tasks of the peace process between September 17 and January 14 2011," Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha was quoted as saying by the media.

The deal clear the way for the government to send a joint letter to the UN Security Council for the extension of the term of the UNMIN.

"We have reached an agreement to extend the UNMIN term
for concluding the peace process logically," said Home Minister Bhim Rawal.

PTI