Nepal Maoists miss date with Buddha, new government

May 9th, 2009 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 9 (IANS) Nepal’s embattled Maoist party Saturday both failed to keep its date with the Buddha, one of the best loved icons of the Himalayan republic, and a new all-party government, keeping the country in the throes of uncertainty.

The fresh turmoil that erupted Monday after Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda resigned from the post of prime minister hit the birth anniversary celebrations of the Buddha, who is believed to have been born on this day more than 2,500 years ago.

The Buddha was born Prince Siddharth into a royal family in Lumbini in southern Nepal. On this day every year, Buddhists from home and abroad flock to the town to celebrate the event.

Prachanda, whose party fought a 10-year guerrilla war before it returned to mainstream politics, was scheduled to take part in the programme at Lumbini along with President Ram Baran Yadav.

But the two became arch enemies after the president reinstated the chief of the army, Gen. Rookmangud Katawal, thwarting the Maoists’ attempt to fire him.

Prachanda, the caretaker prime minister, busy planning his party’s new strategy, remained in the capital, where he addressed the first national meet of over 1,000 families, whose kin went missing in the course of the savage ‘People’s War’.

Though the president asked the 25 parliamentary parties to cobble a consensus government by Saturday, there was no sign of an agreement. The Maoists kept up pressure for the ouster of the army chief.

“The president took an unconstitutional step and tried to make himself a parallel source of power,” Maoist spokesman Dinanath Sharma said.

The main opposition party, the Nepali Congress (NC), said it would support a new government under the third largest party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML). However, by Saturday, the UML had failed to woo the Maoists back or get the support of the regional parties.

If the three big parties remain at loggerheads, the fourth largest, regional party Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), can play kingmaker.

But even the MJF remained undecided Saturday. It has now formed a three-member team under former minister Jay Prakash Gupta to discuss alliances, especially with three other regional parties from the Terai.

Now the president has no option but to call an election in the interim parliament to choose a new premier, just as he had done last year.

However, with the Maoists refusing to allow parliament to sit, holding an election also becomes a near impossible task.

There is growing fear by the UN and Nepal’s major donors that the impasse will derail the peace process and prevent the drafting of a new constitution by next year.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |