Fugitive wins seat in Nepal Parliament

A Nepalese election commission officer empties a ballot box prior to counting the votes in Kathmandu on Friday. (AP)
Updated 12 December 2017
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Fugitive wins seat in Nepal Parliament

KATMANDU: A fugitive wanted over a deadly attack on police won a seat in Nepal’s national Parliament Tuesday, despite being in hiding and not once appearing in public during his campaign.
Resham Chaudhary won the seat from Kailali in western Nepal by a landslide, securing more than double the votes of his closest rival, according to results from the election commission.
Chaudhary has been in hiding since 2015 when he was accused of masterminding an attack in which eight police officers and a toddler were killed.
“He is in our wanted list and we can arrest him even though he has been elected as a member of Parliament, if we find him,” said police spokesman Manoj Neupane.
Chaudhary was a key figure in violent protests that erupted in 2015 over a contentious new constitution.
Ethnic minority groups from across Nepal’s southern lowlands took to the streets demanding changes to the charter, which they say leaves them politically marginalized.
Around 50 people died in clashes between protesters and police that led to a blockade of the border with India and a crippling shortage of goods in landlocked Nepal.
Chaudhary has previously denied masterminding the attack on police, which he described as a “people’s uprising.”
But a parliamentary committee concluded the killings were premeditated, and a Human Rights Watch investigation found some protesters appeared to have come prepared for violence.
The protest movements have lost momentum in recent years and many of their leaders have joined political parties.
During his campaign, Chaudhary never once emerged from hiding. Instead he recorded a series of audio and video speeches that his supporters played on laptops at crowded rallies, according to local media.
This is not the first time a man on the police’s wanted list has ended up in Nepal’s Parliament.
Shortly after being elected to Parliament in 2013, Sanjay Sah was arrested for his role in a deadly bombing the year before. He is still in jail.
Votes are still being counted following landmark national and provincial elections, which mark the end of the country’s tumultuous transition from monarchy to democracy 11 years after the end of a brutal civil war.
Final results are expected by the end of the week, but an alliance of the two main communist parties has already won a strong majority.


Japan halts missile drills after Trump-Kim summit

Updated 21 June 2018
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Japan halts missile drills after Trump-Kim summit

TOKYO: Japan has halted evacuation drills simulating a North Korean missile attack in the wake of historic talks between Washington and Pyongyang, local media reported Thursday.
Government officials did not immediately confirm the reports, but authorities in one town said they were suspending a drill planned for next week on orders from Tokyo.
The decision comes after US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un met last week in Singapore, with the pair signing a joint document calling for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Yaita in Tochigi prefecture north of Tokyo had been planning an evacuation drill for next week involving some 800 residents including 350 school children, city official Yutaka Yanagida said.
But the city suddenly canceled all preparations late Wednesday after being instructed by the government that “drills should be postponed for the time being following a change in the environment after the US-North Korea summit,” he said.
Contacted by AFP, a Cabinet Office official said the government would announce its policy on evacuation drills on Friday, declining to comment further.
Last year, Pyongyang fired two missiles over Japan and it has splashed others into the sea near the country, sparking a mix of panic and outrage.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Tokyo residents scrambled for cover in the Japanese capital’s first evacuation drill for a military attack by Pyongyang.
North Korea has singled out Japan, a key US ally in the region, for verbal attacks, threatening to “sink” the country into the sea and to turn it into “ashes.”
But the regional mood has turned toward diplomacy since the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea, which set off a series of diplomatic moves culminating in the Trump-Kim meet.