Police arrest dozens for demonstrating against the MCC
Security Officials Say Arrests Were Made To Maintain Law And Order Situation And To Prevent Any Untoward Incident.
Police arrested as many as 60 people from different places in Kathmandu who were protesting against the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as Fatema Sumar, vice president of the Department of Compact Operations, arrived in Kathmandu on Thursday morning.
According to Senior Superintendent Ashok Singh, chief of Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range, nearly 60 people were detained for demonstrating in different parts of Kathmandu, including Koteshwor and Tinkune, near the airport, and in Kamaladi.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation Nepal Compact, under which Nepal is to receive $500 million in grants, has become a hotly debated political issue, as some political parties, as well as some sections of the society, are vehemently opposing the American programme’s parliamentary ratification.
Ahead of the scheduled arrival of Sumar and Jonathan Brooks, her deputy at the Compact Operations, police had mobilised hundreds of security personnel in various parts of Kathmandu, in view of the protests.
“We have mobilised around 500 police personnel to avoid any untoward incident during the visit of the US officials,” said Singh. “All those detained will be released later in the evening.”
The US officials arrive in Kathmandu a day after dispatching clarification to the Nepal government on various concerns surrounding the MCC.
The Ministry of Finance on September 3 had sent 11 questions and some supplementary concerns to the MCC headquarters, asking for clarification on those, saying these issues were being debated in the Nepali public sphere.
Some of the concerns were whether the MCC agreement prevails over Nepal’s constitution, whether the MCC is part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and whether the MCC has any military ties.
The MCC headquarters in its response has said that the Constitution of Nepal prevails over the MCC agreement, that it is not part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and that there is no connection between the MCC Nepal Compact and any military alliance or defence strategy
The US delegation began its meetings on Thursday, starting with KP Sharma Oli, chair of the main opposition CPn-UML.
Sumar and Brooks are scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other leaders as well, including Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chair of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre). Sumar is also scheduled to meet with government officials, and business and community leaders
According to the Embassy of the United States in Kathmandu, Sumar will discuss the required next steps to implement the $500 million MCC-Nepal infrastructure programme, address the clarification questions provided by the Ministry of Finance, and hear from the people of Nepal.
“She will specifically affirm: the MCC grant program has no military component, will not impede on Nepal’s sovereignty, and Nepal’s constitution will prevail over the agreement,” the embassy said in a statement. “Prior to negotiating and signing the compact in 2017, the government of Nepal designed the five-year grant programme to provide more reliable electricity and lower power and transportation costs for all Nepalis.”
Sumar is scheduled to visit Prime Minister Deuba on Frida.
After Sumar’s arrival, traffic in some parts was thrown out gear, but officials said no special traffic arrangements were made.
According to Superintendent Sanjib Sharma Das of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, no special traffic arrangements were put in place for the US officials’ visit.
“Traffic was normal,” said Das.