King can’t take over on Nepal Army’s strength: Dr Mahat

Kathmandu, September 11 :

Finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat today ruled out monarchy taking over the reigns of the country again on the strength of the Nepali Army.

“I do not think the Nepali Army will back the King in seizing power in the future as the army has also learnt lessons from the recent Jana Andolan II,” Mahat said. He was addressing a talk programme organised here to mark the 93rd birth anniversary of the late BP Koirala, the first elected prime minister and a founding leader of the Nepali Congress.

Mahat said that the army had also suffered a lot and faced humiliation on the international front after it supported the King’s infamous February 1 takeover. “The Nepali Army could not even purchase arms and ammunition from outside after it backed the King’s autocracy,” Mahat said, adding that the Chief of Army Staff, Rukmangat Katwal, during his swearing-in ceremony at the Singh Durbar, had also vowed to be accountable to the people and the democratic system.

“CoAS Katwal has also expressed full commitment to the people and democracy during his swearing-in ceremony on Sunday. So, nobody should harbour any suspicion about the army’s duties and responsibilities,” he said, adding that the army’s image would also be enhanced in a democratic society.

The army used to be loyal and accountable to the King before the May 18 Declaration of the House of Representatives.

Mahat further said that there would not be free and fair elections to a constituent assembly under the Maoists’ “shadow of arms”.

The seven-party alliance had reached the 12-point understanding with the Maoists after the latter expressed commitment to competitive multiparty democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Mahat said, asking the rebels to choose the path of political freedom. He said that there was no rule of law even after the restoration of democracy because of the Maoists’ “forced donation collection spree.”

He said an environment conducive to foreign direct investment cannot be had as long as the “shadow of arms and violence” exists. Mahat gave a rosy picture of foreign direct investment in Nepal’s hydropower sector provided that there was permanent peace in the country.