It was an uprising that brought them into power in 2006, but Nepal’s four major parties have decided to reward a controversial figure involved in suppressing the uprising with a very powerful position — a decision that has created a political storm that could test for the Chief Justice-led government.
At the centre of the storm is Lokman Singh Karki, Chief Secretary under King Gyanendra Shah, who the four parties want to lead the Commission of Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), an anti-corruption body. CIAA has so far jailed two former Ministers for amassing property beyond their means but the post of Commissioner has remained vacant since 2009 due to disagreements on a suitable candidate.
A constitutional council — headed by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi — decided on Mr. Karki’s appointment on Sunday and forwarded it to the President for approval. The President, so far, has demurred and is understood to be sympathetic to calls to reject it.
The choice of Mr. Karki has ignited uproar in the media, partly because he himself has been implicated by the CIAA in a gold smuggling scandal. In addition, he was found guilty by the Rayamajhi Commission, formed after 2006, to investigate those responsible for suppressing the uprising.
“Our investigations clearly show that Karki was guilty of suppressing the People’s Movement,” said a disheartened former justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi, who headed the commission that investigated state abuses during the 2006 uprising.
The decision to recommend Mr. Karki was taken by the High Level Political Committee that includes top leaders from the Nepali Congress, UCPN (Maoist), CPN-UML and a coalition of Madhes-based parties.
A case against the appointment, on which the Supreme Court had earlier issued a stay order, was rejected last week, making it clear that the Court didn’t think the appointment would go against the Interim Constitution. However, an unguarded remark by the presiding Justice that he faced “pressure from above” to clear the case has led to multiple reports in local media on Mr. Karki’s probable backers, with fingers pointed at tax-evading businessmen, corrupt politicians and “foreign powers”.
Mr. Karki’s appointment, which looks certain, has touched a raw nerve among the supporters of 2006 uprising that led to the end of monarchy and the birth of the republican era. Various student unions, including those affiliated with parties which support Mr. Karki’s appointment, have announced street protest. The decision is also sure to give more fodder to the parties opposed to the government, including the splinter Maoists.