Allies boycott Nepal PM’s crucial cabinet meeting

May 4th, 2009 - 4:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, May 4 (IANS) The uncertainty about the fate of Nepal’s first Maoist-led government deepened Monday with all four of its allies boycotting a critical cabinet meeting that is expected to decide the cornered government’s future strategy.
Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s call for a cabinet meeting was ignored by the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), Sadbhavana Party, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) and Communist Party of Nepal (United) ahead of a national address to be made by the former revolutionary that will spell out his party’s strategy for survival.

It was expected that the UML would not attend since it had announced Sunday that it was quitting the government to protest the Maoists’ unilateral decision to sack the chief of the army, Gen Rookmangud Katawal.

Soon after the UML ministers tendered their resignation, the Sadbhavana Party had also said it was leaving the coalition.

However, the MJF’s absence comes as a blow since Prachanda had begun consultations with the ethnic party’s leaders.

The eight-month government is now desperately trying to woo other parties to show majority in the house. But so far, only a few fringe parties have said they would support the government.

Nearly 17 of the 25 parliamentary parties are siding with the opposition Nepali Congress (NC) that Monday began calling for Prachanda to resign.

The Maoists, who won the election last year but could not get majority, have 237 seats in the 601-member interim parliament, having recently lost a lawmaker who floated his own party.

The fringe party support can get only about 20 more votes at the most in the house.

The NC, which is the second largest party with 114 seats, is in a better position to win the vote if it can win the support of the UML that has 109 lawmakers and the MJF, which has 53.

The Maoists won a vote in the house last year for the election of the prime minister when the UML and MJF supported them.

However, they lost the race for president after the UML joined forces with the NC.

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