Nepal deadline ends, parties fail to form new government

January 26th, 2011 - 6:26 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Jan 26 (IANS) The crisis gripping Nepal since the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal last year deepened Wednesday as the extended deadline given by President Ram Baran Yadav to form a consensus government neared expiry with the battling political parties failing to reach an agreement.”The deadline is coming to a close,” former prime ministerial candidate Ram Chandra Poudel admitted to the waiting media after nearly six hours of negotiations among the leaders of the three largest parties broke down in a plush golf resort on the outskirts of the capital.

“We have decided to continue the talks tomorrow (Thursday),” said Poudel, whose Nepali Congress party remains one of the main contenders for the prime ministerial post.

Leaders from the ruling communists, their ally the Nepali Congress, and the opposition Maoists clung to their claims for power, even seven months into the deadlock.

The two ruling parties Wednesday said they were ready to accept a Maoist-led government only after the former rebels convinced them they would remain committed to the peace process and the promulgation of a new constitution by May 28.

The two are pressuring the Maoists, who formally handed over their nearly 20,000-strong guerrilla army to the government Saturday, to come up with a time-bound plan to discharge the combatants and empty the cantonments.

Though the Maoists agreed to disband their People’s Liberation Army in 2006, when they signed a peace accord and ended a 10-year armed insurrection that had killed over 16,000 people, they have been dragging their feet after a dispute.

While the accord said all the eligible PLA fighters would be merged with the state army, the plan was grounded after Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda was found to have wilfully inflated the strength of his army.

The ruling parties now say as long as there are two armies, the Maoists can’t be allowed to head the new government, resulting in a stalemate that threatens to derail the new constitution.

The failure Wednesday to form an all-party government echoes the situation in July 2010 when the inability forced the president to call for elections.

However, the bickering parties failed to elect a new prime minister even after 16 rounds of vote, which finally led to the scrapping of the election.

On Tuesday, parliament amended the election procedure to avert a similar debacle should fresh elections be held.

The amended rules say only three rounds of poll can be held in future and no lawmaker can abstain from voting or skip the vote, as they had done last year.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at

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