Nepal parties inch closer to forming government (Lead)

May 17th, 2009 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, May 17 (DPA) Nepal’s two main political parties, the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and the Nepali Congress, announced Sunday that they have the majority necessary to form a new government without the Maoists.
The announcement came after 32 politicians from a key ethnic party, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), said they would support the government led by CPN-UML.

“We feel that the country cannot continue without a government and our move is an attempt to give an outlet from the political crisis,” Bijay Kumar Gachchhedar of MJF said.

The support paved the way for Madhav Kumar Nepal of CPN-UML to become the new prime minister, replacing Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Armed with the support of 350 members of the 601-seat constituent assembly, the party Sunday staked its claim to form the new government.

“We have asked the chairman of the constituent assembly to initiate the process to form the new government as we now have the majority,” Surendra Pandey of CPN-UML said.

The constitution assembly, which also acts as an interim legislature, will now be tasked with formally electing the prime minister in a vote.

However, it remains unclear when that will happen as the Maoists have prevented the assembly from holding its regular session.

The Maoist led government collapsed May 4 after power struggle with the president over its decision to sack army chief Rukmangad Katuwal.

President Ram Baran Yadav reinstated the army chief just hours after he was sacked by the government on charges of insubordination, accusing him of not following government orders.

Since the collapse of the government, the Maoists have prevented the constituent assembly from holding its regular session and have staged demonstrations across the country.

The Maoists say they will continue their blockade of the parliament until the president apologises and withdraws his decision to reinstate the army chief.

The Maoists say the president’s move was unconstitutional and illegal.

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