Nepal moves to impeach anti-graft panel chief: Why Lokman Singh Karki turned such a villain

Karki had offended many politicians in the past and now civil society organisations, especially the rich ones, were feeling vulnerable.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Updated: October 23, 2016 6:42 pm
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Everything remained closely guarded. 157 Parliamentarians from the ruling Maoist and the main opposition Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist signed an ‘impeachment notice’ and submitted to the Parliament secretariat on Thursday. Soon after Speaker Onsari Gharti, who belongs to the Maoist Party, notified to the President and the Prime Minister that Lokman Singh Karki, Chief of the anti-graft Constitutional body (CIAA), remains suspended pending final outcome of parliament.

But the impeachment motion, first of its kind in Nepali parliament, has triggered sensation in the media, civil society, in political parties as well as the streets, at least in the capital, with most of them demanding he be impeached.

Why did a man appointed to the post by a government headed by the Chief Justice on joint recommendation of the Chiefs of four major parties–Nepali Congress, Maoists, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Madhesi Forum some 46 months ago for a six year term–turn such a villain?

There are conflicting reports about why and how the move to impeach him began, but clearly the political parties are divided on the issue, although Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been given the responsibility to forge a common position in favour of the motion. Nepali Congress, the largest party in the coalition government as well as in parliament, is divided mainly because of the manner of handling of the issue.

Ostensibly, the parliamentarians took up the issue after supporters of Karki kept obstructing or refusing the delivery of summon from the Supreme Court regarding a case questioning his eligibility to hold the post. But why should Parliament come to the rescue of the Supreme Court when the judiciary is capable of dealing with it on its own?

Karki had offended many politicians in the past and now civil society organisations, especially the rich ones, were feeling vulnerable. On the other hand, they were also sort of preparing dossier on Karki about his acts of ‘omission and commission’ .

Karki was apparently going to initiate investigation into alleged financial irregularities in the Maoist cantonment making some of the ministers (erstwhile guerrilla commanders), mainly Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Janardan Sharma– vulnerable. CIAA had already began investigation into some alleged irregularities and corruption cases against some noted civil society leaders and organisations—some with clear connection with the political parties, as well as their financial dealings with external donors.

“We will pursue it and impeach him. There is no back gear in the move’, K P Oli, UM Chairman and apparently the brain behind the whole quiet exercise, said. The 596-member House will need at least two third of the members present and voting to have it endorsed. If adopted, Karki will be the biggest loser no doubt, but the quiet gainer will be Oli , for he has brought the UML and Maoists back together two months after the Maoists exit from the left alliance and forming an alliance with the Nepali Congress, led to the fall of his (Oli led) government.