Maoists flounder to form government

August 8th, 2008 - 1:19 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Aug 8 (IANS) Luck seemed to be running out for Nepal’s former Maoist rebels who after their victory in a 10-year guerrilla war and the election this year were floundering to win support for a new government Friday, the extended deadline for the task given to them by the president. Even four months after the April election, Nepal remained paralysed by a deepening deadlock as the Maoists’ duel for power with caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and his Nepali Congress party continued, with both sides trying to woo other parties to cobble a majority government.

Maoist supremo Prachanda, who is staking claim to be the prime minister after his party’s surprise victory in the constituent assembly election, had failed to meet the Tuesday deadline given by President Ram Baran Yadav to name a new government.

Though the former guerrillas have an uneasy alliance with the other Communist parties, including the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the third largest party in Nepal, they can’t head the new government unless they win over Koirala and his second largest party.

The Maoist bid to form a minority government last week was scuttled due to pressure from neighbour India, which is asking for a consensus government in Nepal with the participation of all major parties.

Consequently, the thwarted Maoists were forced to ask the president to extend the deadline till Friday, by which time they had hoped to reach an understanding with the prime minister.

However, even as the extended deadline neared expiry Friday, there was still no sign of an understanding between the two biggest parties.

“There is little possibility of a Maoist-led government,” senior Maoist leader Mohan Vaidya said.

The hardliner lawmaker accused “foreign powers” and the Nepali Congress of conspiring to prevent the Maoists from coming to power.

Vaidya predicted that the Maoists would have to sit in the opposition.

There is growing speculation that despite his failing health, 83-year-old Koirala is keen on continuing as prime minister.

The octogenarian leader has been meeting the chiefs of other political parties to assess if they would support his bid.

The two new ethnic parties from the Terai plains, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party, would prove to be a key factor in the formation of the new government.

The fourth largest bloc, they can help the Maoists obtain simple majority if the bid to form a consensus government fails and the prime minister has to be elected by the interim parliament.

If the Maoists fail to form the next government, it is likely to trigger yet another crisis with some of the former rebel leaders having warned they would launch a new protest movement.

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