>>>President Intervenes>>>But the President who is the supreme commander of the army, tells ‘sacked’ General Katwal, to continue with the job in a late night letter. President said he received letters from 18 political parties in the Constituent Assembly in which they said they were against the government’s decision to sack the General. President also noted that he found proper procedures were not met to sack the General. This has invited mixed reactions from lawyers and constitutional experts. Finance minister Baburam Bhattarai has termed President’s action as ‘constitutional coup’ saying that it would be countered ‘in the government, on the streets and in the Constituent Assembly.’ Meanwhile, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government has fallen into minority after the CPN UML, second largest partner in the coalition, pulled out from the government earlier in the day.
>>Army Chief Sacked>>Today’s controversial meeting of the cabinet that was boycotted by the major partner in the Maoist-led ruling alliance has decided to sack the Chief of the Army Staff, General Rookmangad Katwal. Katwal has refused to accept the letter that says he is sacked while his number two in the Nepali Army Lt. Gen. Kul Bahadur Khadka, a Maoist favorite, has accept the letter that appoints him as the acting head of the army. General Katwal has gone to the Army headquarters and is reportedly holding meetings with top generals. Last week the Army refuted media reports that suggested that it was preparing for a Bangladesh-style coup in which President would be used as the face of the new government.
After the cabinet meeting that was boycotted by CPN UML, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal went to call on the President. The cabinet decision will only be enforced after the ceremonial head of the state approves it. President Ram Baran Yadav is against the sacking of the army chief and has been continuously suggesting the government to take action only on consensus. In his initial response to the cabinet decision, the President has been reported as saying that he was unhappy with the decision as no proper procedure was followed. It remains to be seen, at this point in time, how he and Katwal will go ahead. Whatever happens, it’s confirmed that the Maoists have been able to create unprecedented division in the institution of the national army with whom they fought the war until 2006.
Meanwhile the opposition Nepal Congress party has called for an all party (minus Maoist) meeting this afternoon to discuss the cabinet decision while the UML has convened an emergency meeting of the standing committee.