Nepal graft watchdog’s inauguration sparks protests

from May 8, 2013

KATHMANDU — Police on Wednesday arrested a group of protesters outside the inauguration ceremony for the new head of Nepal’s anti-corruption watchdog, who is himself battling graft allegations.

“We have arrested five people who were shouting slogans and demonstrating in front of Shital Niwas (the president’s office) which is a restricted area,” Uttam Subedi, a spokesman for the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police, told AFP.

Dozens of rights activists and student organisations have been protesting since the start of the week over the decision to appoint Lokman Singh Karki to run the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority.

Protesters say Karki is a totally inappropriate choice because he is currently the subject of several corruption inquiries, dating back to his time as chief secretary to King Gyanendra before the monarch was toppled in 2006.

Karki is also controversial as he was instrumental in suppressing the anti-monarchy protests which ultimately led to Gyanendra’s ousting.

Karki was sworn in to the six-year post by President Ram Baran Yadav on Wednesday morning as the protesters staged a sit-in outside his office.

The position had been vacant for more than three years after successive governments failed to garner support for a candidate, which has historically been a top former bureaucrat.

Protests on Tuesday against the appointment brought traffic to a halt in large parts of the country of 27 million people.

A survey by the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International last year rated Nepal as one of Asia’s most corrupt countries.

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