Communists ready to form new Nepal government (Lead)

May 9th, 2009 - 10:44 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 9 (IANS) The crisis gripping Nepal since the fall of its first Maoist government eased slightly Saturday with the third largest party, the Communists, officially declaring their readiness to take the plunge.

The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) Saturday formed a nine-member committee, headed by its chief Jhalanath Khanal, to try and muster a simple majority in the interim parliament if its efforts at forming a coalition of all the major parties failed.

Besides Khanal, the panel also includes its former chief and deputy prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal. Either of the two is likely to be the next prime minister if the party can get a majority.

The UML had headed the government in 1994-95, making Nepal a rare monarchy with a communist government.

However, the nine-month dispensation of prime minister Manmohan Adhikari fell after charges of corruption and the withdrawal of support by the rightist Nepali Congress (NC).

Now the NC says it will support a UML government, in what royalists branded an “unholy alliance”.

With the UML failing to get consensus by Saturday, the deadline set by President Ram Baran Yadav, either the party will seek an extension or gear up for an election in the interim parliament.

Nepal’s Maoist party, which had won last year’s prime ministerial race, said it feared “dirty horse-trading” by its opponents.

Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda also alleged that India and the US were behind the “dirty game”.

“The old parties have once again started their dirty old game of buying and selling people,” the caretaker prime minister said.

Prachanda alleged that a political party leader had met him during the day to warn him that “crores (of rupees) were being spent” to ensure numerical support in the race to choose a new prime minister.

“My friends are being bought,” the unnamed political leader allegedly told Prachanda.

The former revolutionary also alleged that the “dirty game of buying and selling lawmakers” was being played on the orders of the parties’ “foreign masters”, by which he meant India and the US.

Maoist spokesman Dinanath Sharma said the party would keep up protests on the streets and obstruct parliament till the army chief - the bone of contention over whom their government fell - was removed.

The UML, which has 109 MPs in the 601-member house, will need a third party besides the NC, which has 114, to secure simple majority.

The fourth largest party, the regional Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), can play kingmaker.

The Terai party Saturday formed a three-member team under former minister Jay Prakash Gupta to discuss alliances, and said it would support any party that promised to carve out a Madhes state in the southern plains.

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