Broken Ten-Month Deadlock
Nepal’s squabbling politicians have broken a ten-month deadlock with agreement to appoint Chief Justice Khili Raj Regmi as chairman of the Interim Election Council – in effect the country’s prime minister. Smaller political parties who were not part of the deal have objected, but major international players including the UK, India, China and European countries have all applauded the move.
Less welcome though has been the interim government’s appointments to long-vacant civil service posts including the Public Service Commission, the Auditor General, and especially the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority.
Observers have been shocked by the nomination of Lokman Singh Karki for the post of chairman of the CIAA. Karki was Chief Secretary in King Gyanendra’s autocratic rule from 2004 to 2006. In that role he was a leader in the suppression of the democracy movement that eventually ended the King’s rule, says former Chief Justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi, who headed a commission investigating the King’s government.
Rayamajhi Commission’s Report
The Rayamajhi Commission’s report has never been published, but according to knowledgeable sources it declares Karki to be “unqualified to hold any public office” in the future.
It is unsettling then that the political commission formed to assist the interim government have recommended Karki to lead the main corruption control body in the country. Maoist members of the “High-Level Political Mechanism” initially proposed him for the job: Congress and UML forces resisted briefly and then also endorsed the nomination.
The reason seems obvious – appointing a tainted and vulnerable person to the head of the anti-corruption commission ensures that prosecution of other politicians will not move forward. The appearance of gross political collusion to protect major figures in Nepali politics is damning.
Stability in Nepal?
Worse, this appointment weakens the interim election government’s legitimacy to hold new elections, and threatens to compromise the entire process of transition from insurrection to peace to stability in Nepal.
Nothing less than the credibility of the forthcoming elections is at stake.