NEPAL MOVES TO IM­PEACH CHIEF JUS­TICE

Rul­ing coali­tion ac­cuses her of ‘tak­ing sides’ af­ter she over­turned choice for po­lice chief

New Straits Times - - World -

KATHMANDU

THE first fe­male chief jus­tice in Nepal has been sus­pended af­ter the gov­ern­ment filed a mo­tion to im­peach her, trig­ger­ing protests within the frag­ile rul­ing coali­tion.

The two main par­ties in the coali­tion ac­cused Sushila Karki of in­ter­fer­ence af­ter the Supreme Court last month over­turned the gov­ern­ment’s choice for chief of po­lice.

“We have de­cided to im­peach Chief Jus­tice Sushila Karki... af­ter she vis­i­bly started tak­ing sides in cases,” Min Biswakarma, a mem­ber of the rul­ing coali­tion who pro­posed the mo­tion, said yes­ter­day.

Hours later, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Bi­mal­en­dra Nidhi re­signed in protest. A smaller coali­tion party had also threat­ened to quit the gov­ern­ment.

Karki’s sup­port­ers said she had taken a strong stance against corruption dur­ing her year-long ten­ure as head of the Supreme Court.

A com­mit­tee will be es­tab­lished to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions of bias, af­ter which Par­lia­ment will vote on whether to im­peach her.

But, the process is un­likely to get that far as she is due to re­tire next month when she turns 65.

The gov­ern­ment had ap­pointed Jaya Ba­hadur Chand as po­lice chief, but the court ruled that the high­est-rank­ing of­fi­cer Navaraj Sil­wal should take the top job.

Nepal has a his­tory of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence in key civil ap­point­ments, such as the head of po­lice.

The im­pov­er­ished coun­try has had nine gov­ern­ments since the end of the civil war in 2006, with each ad­min­is­tra­tion seek­ing to fill key po­si­tions with loy­al­ists.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Lok Raj Baral said the coali­tion gov­ern­ment was held to­gether only by the de­sire of its con­stituent par­ties to stay in power.

“There is con­stant bar­gain­ing (within the par­ties) for them to strengthen their po­si­tion.”

He de­scribed the im­peach­ment of the chief jus­tice as another at­tempt to re­move any ob­sta­cles.

Lo­cal elec­tions are due this month, fol­lowed by pro­vin­cial and then na­tional elec­tions by the end of the year. AFP

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