Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav is in the spotlight over granting amnesty to a Maoist lawmaker convicted by the country’s apex court in a murder during the civil war.
The Maoist-led coalition government took a decision last week to grant amnesty to Balkrishna Dhungel and requested Yadav to approve the move as per provision of the interim constitution.
In January last year, the Supreme Court had upheld a lower court’s order convicting Dhungel of murdering Ujjan Kumar Shrestha in 1998 and a 20 year jail term. But no action was taken against the lawmaker.
The government’s decision has evoked widespread criticism from opposition parties, human rights bodies and civil society, all of whom have appealed to Yadav not to approve the government’s request.
“The legal section of the President’s office is studying the government request. A decision could be expected in two-three weeks,” said Rajendra Dahal, media advisor to the President.
On Sunday, acting on a writ filed by Dhungel sister, the Supreme Court issued an interim order to stop execution of the government’s decision to grant amnesty to the Maoist lawmaker.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai who returned from the 17th Saarc summit in Maldives on Saturday has ruled out any possibility of reversing the cabinet’s decision.
Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal who returned from the US on Sunday told journalists that the decision on Dungel was execution of a verbal agreement among parties taken during a previous government.
Soon after his arrival Dahal and Bhattarai held talks on the issue and agreed to consult and convince other parties.
The Maoist central committee will also deliberate on the matter on Monday. Significantly, deputy PM Bijay Kumar Gachachadhar, who represents Madhesi parties in the coalition, has indicated that the cabinet decision was not correct and it should be reviewed.