Going into the second round of local election, the protesting Rastriya Janata Party Nepal has been trying to portray CPN-UML as an ‘anti-Madhesi’ party, and the main barrier to constitution amendment. But is the party really anti-Madhesi? What has contributed to this image of UML in Tarai-Madhes? And what is UML’s electoral strategy for the second and third rounds of local election? UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokhrel shared his views with Mahabir Paudyal.

Nathaniel Heller is the executive vice president of integrated strategies at Results for Development (R4D), which works with change agents such as government officials, sometime social entrepreneurs and civil society activists to design and execute strategies for strengthening health, education and nutrition system. Prior to joining R4D in 2015, Heller co-founded and led Global Integrity, a non-profit organization that promotes government transparency and accountability worldwide. During his time as executive director of Global Integrity, Heller led the organization since its inception in 2005 through a period of intensive growth that saw Global Integrity established as a global leader on anti-corruption and governance issues. Republica's Kosh Raj Koirala caught up with him during his recent trip to Kathmandu in order to learn the efforts of his organization to promote transparency and accountability. Excerpts:

A member of the six-member presidium of the newly formed Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), Rajendra Mahato claims his party is still keen about taking part in the second phase of local election. Yet his party has just announced to actively disrupt the second phase. Many people are left wondering what exactly the RJPN wants. Why is it not taking part in the second phase even though the two biggest Madhes-based parties are already in? And is there still a possibility of a negotiated settlement in the next few days, clearing the way for the party to take part in the second phase? Thira L Bhusal and Mahabir Paudyal caught up with the veteran Madhesi leader.

DAMAK June 8: The Bhutanese refugees living in different camps in eastern districts of the country have extended congratulations and best wishes to Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba on his election to the post of Prime Minister.

Even as the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) sticks to the demand of constitution amendment before it agrees to take part in the second phase of local election, Upendra Yadav’s Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) not only participated in the first phase but is also campaigning for the second phase. This decision has come under withering criticism of the RJPN and some Madhesi intellectuals. But what made Yadav, until recently one of the staunchest hardliners on constitution amendment, suddenly agree to be part of local election even without the desired amendments? Republica’s Mahabir Paudyal tries to find out in this interview.

Morocco has appointed Mohamed Maliki as its ambassador to Nepal. Maliki, who is based in New Delhi, is in Kathmandu to present his credentials to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari. Ashim Neupane of Republica talked to Maliki on different issues including the possibility of fostering bilateral trade, among others. Excerpts:

The government has tabled the budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2017/18 amid positive economic outlook of the country with growth rate in the current fiscal year projected at 6.94 percent -- the highest since 1993/94.  The International Monetary Fund has also made a projection of 5.5 percent of GDP growth for Nepal. Sagar Ghimire of Republica caught up with Andreas Bauer, the Senior Resident Representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for India, Nepal and Bhutan, to talk about a broad range of economic issues of Nepal. Excerpts:

The government has deferred the second phase election in a bid to make Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) take part. Yet the RJPN, formed with the unity of six small Madhesi parties, has not softened its anti-election stand. Why is RJPN so adamant on boycotting and disrupting the second phase? Can there be no meeting point now? Manish Suman, a General Secretary of RJPN, shared his views with Mahabir Paudyal on Wednesday afternoon.

CHITWAN, May 31: Faced with imminent defeat, representatives of the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) on Sunday midnight tore off ballot papers while the vote count of Bharatpur ward-19 was ongoing.

CPN-UML candidate Bidya Sundar Shakya was elected mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) on Sunday, defeating his nearest rival Raju Raj Joshi of Nepali Congress. With Shakya all set to assume the top post in the country"s largest city, Republica"s Gyan P. Neupane talked with him about his vision and his plans to make the capital “a beautiful, safe, prosperous and lively city” as promised in the election manifesto. Excerpts: