Prachanda on Hong Kong visit to attend meeting

Nepal`s Maoist supremo Prachanda will embark on a visit to Malaysia tonight to attend a meeting of a Hong Kong-based foundation.

Kathmandu: Nepal`s Maoist supremo Prachanda
will embark on a visit to Malaysia tonight to attend a meeting
of a Hong Kong-based foundation which has sparked a row here
with a proposal to invest USD 3 billion in Lumbini, the birth
place of Lord Buddha on the Nepal-India border.

Prachanda will attend in Hong Kong the meeting of Asia
Pacific Exchange and Cooperation (APEC) Foundation, which
claimed to have signed a MoU with United Nations Industrial
western Lumbini to convert it into a "Mecca for Buddhists".

Prachanda is leaving for Malaysia where he will meet his
Nepalese sympthizers and then head to Hong Kong to attend the
meeting from August 8, party sources said.

APEC Foundation and UNIDO plans to develop Lumbini as a
special development zone and roads and airport will be
constructed. State-of-the-art communication system, water and
electricity facilities will be added to the zone which is
enlisted as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Modraj Dotel, Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, has
stepped down alleging "non-transparent" functioning of the
government in the proposed USD 3 billion investment.

"I have resigned as works are being done in non-
transparent way which has become a matter of concern for
us," he was quoted as saying by Annapurna Post daily, before
heading to India`s religious town of Kashi yesterday.

The Communist-led ruling alliance is dependent on the
Maoist party for its survival.

Strong pressure was exerted on Dotel to implement the
project of the foundation, whose co-chairmen are Maoist chief
Prachanda and Nepal`s former Prince Paras, according to the

Dotel hinted that pressure was being exerted to implement
the project. He was in favour of "implementing the (Nepal
Government`s) master plan for the development of Lumbini
rather than making it a commercial centre as envisioned by the

The government`s master plan was prepared by famous
Japanese architect Kenjo Tange in 1978 at the initiative of
then UN Secretary General U Thant in Lumbini.

Officials at the Lumbini Development Trust, the main body
entrusted to develop the historic town, have said that they
had no information about the APEC Foundation`s project.

According to observers, the controversial project
being secretly developed by China might create security
concern for India, as it would require presence of Chinese
officials in the area which is close to Nepal India border.

Prachanda`s visit to Malaysia comes at a time of
deepening political crisis in the country, with mounting
pressure on embattled Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal to
quit for the failure to push forward the peace process.

Khanal has announced that he would quit by August 13 if
there was no "concrete" progress in the 2006 peace process,
including on the crucial issue of the rehabilitation and
integration of the 19,000 former Maoists` combatants.

Maoists, who are the key supporters of the Communist-led
government, have claimed the right to lead a new national
unity government in Nepal, projecting its vice chairman
Baburam Bhattarai as the new Prime Minister.

The main opposition Nepali Congress has asked Khanal to
implement the May 29 five-point deal reached among the three
major political parties, which includes concluding the peace
process, expediting constitution writing process, integration
of the Maoists` combatants and resignation by the Prime
Minister to pave way for a national consensus government.


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