Nepal deadlock ends, Maoists called to form government (Lead)

May 24th, 2008 - 8:24 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 24 (IANS) With only four days left for the formal abolition of monarchy, the deadlock over the formation of a new Nepal government finally ended Saturday with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala inviting the former Maoist guerrillas, who emerged as the largest single party after last month’s election, to form the new government. After an almost month-long battle for power between the prime minister and the former insurgents, the growing pressure from other parties, his own followers and the international community finally made Koirala concede defeat and invite Maoist supremo Prachanda to form the next government.

Koirala’s trusted aide and Peace and Reconstruction Minister Ram Chandra Poudel said the three largest parties - Koirala’s Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), and the Maoists - held a meeting Saturday at the prime minister’s residence where Koirala made the formal gesture.

On Sunday, at a meeting of the eight largest parties, the transformation of the Maoists from an underground party on the run to a political force to reckon with will be complete with Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who assumed the name Prachanda, providing the Maoist plan on how he would form a consensus government and other issues.

Though the former insurgents emerged as the largest party from the April 10 election, winning 220 of the 575 contested seats, they still fall far short of the two-thirds majority required, under the constitution, to form the next government.

So far, the indications are that the Nepali Congress, which won 110 seats, might not join a Maoist-led government as its sister organisations and influential members have advised Koirala against it.

The UML, which won 103 seats, could take part in the new government if the former rebels heed its demands to dissolve the militant organisations known to still take the law in their own hands.

The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, a debutant party that emerged as a regional force, says it will back the Maoists if they respond favourably to its demand for an autonomous state in the Terai plains.

A bitter feud was growing between the Maoists and Koirala with the prime minister contemplating to cling on to power for the next two years, till the newly elected constituent assembly drafted a new constitution.

Time began to run out for Nepal again, which has seen many long squabbles between the political parties over power-sharing.

The major parties still have to nominate 26 more members to complete the 601-member constituent assembly.

Though they formed an all-party committee to recommend the names, there has been little progress with Koirala and the Maoists remaining deadlocked over the new government as well as head of state.

While the Maoists want a powerful president to head the state, naming Prachanda for the post, the other parties want a ceremonial president with the real power to be exercised by the prime minister.

While these major differences still persist, time is running out with the critical first meeting of the constituent assembly scheduled for Wednesday.

On that fateful day, the new members will formally declare an end to Nepal’s 239-year-old monarchy, stripping King Gyanendra of his crown.

The king Thursday left the Narayanhiti palace, the seat of power and residence of Nepal monarchs, to take up residence in his summer resort in a forested area on the outskirts of the Kathmandu valley.

It is being regarded as his final exit from the palace as the last king of Nepal.

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

Posted in South Asia |