Nepal PM talks tough amid growing violence (Lead)

January 25th, 2009 - 10:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Jan 25 (IANS) Amidst escalating violence in the country and mounting crises, Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Sunday promised tough action in the days to come even as two people died in an explosion in the southern lowlands and several students were injured in clashes in college campuses nationwide.The 55-year-old former revolutionary made a surprise address to the nation Sunday night, admitting that his five-month-old alliance government has not been able to function as per people’s desire but blaming the lapse on regressive forces, which included recalcitrant bureaucracy.

The prime minister came down heavily on continuing clashes between the youth organisations of his own party and its ally in the government, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, and said that he was concerned at the misuse of the younger generations.

He also flayed the prevailing culture of closures and violent public protests, and said they were driving the state towards lawlessness.

Ironically, the Maoist trade union is blamed for most of the industrial unrest in Nepal in the recent days.

Even as the premier spoke, clashes continued in Nepal’s college campuses, resulting in over a dozen students being injured.

An explosion was reported in Rautahat district in the Terai plains, Nepal’s hotbed of violence since the ouster of king Gyanendra’s reign three years ago, killing two people.

In his nearly 40-minute speech, Prachanda promised to get tough. Ministers have been warned not to lead opulent lifestyles and waste time on meetings. They have been asked to hold essential meetings in their own offices.

State employees have been warned to be punctual and be accountable while courts will have to speed up trials.

The Prachanda government will crack down on untouchablity, make special cells and laws to stop demands for dowry and stop extravagant weddings by reinforcing the ceiling on the number of guests.

Special measures have been announced for women, including medical assistance, laws to check domestic violence and stop persecution on allegations of practising witchcraft.

The government will also review the recommendations of the commissions formed by earlier governments and move to bring the guilty to justice.

Prachanda said that his government had allayed the world’s fears that the Maoists would snap ties with the international community once they came to power.

He also hailed as an achievement of his government the willingness by Nepal’s southern neighbour India to review the controversial 1950 treaty of peace and friendship that Nepal feels goes against its interests.

However, it remains to be seen if the promises will be implemented.

Some of these - like the pledge to eradicate untouchability, form a commission to address the plight of the landless and disclose the fate of hundreds of people who disappeared during the 10-year Maoist insurgency - have been parroted by a succession of earlier governments too, including Gyanendra, when he assumed power through a coup.

But none of them kept their promises.

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