Nepal Maoists begin power race against time

August 4th, 2008 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Aug 4 (IANS) After their victory in a 10-year war against the royal dynasty, time has begun to run out for Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas with just 48 hours left for the expiry of the time given to them to form a new government. Last Tuesday, President Ram Baran Yadav called on the Maoists, who had emerged as the largest party after the April election, to prove their majority in the caretaker parliament and form the new government within a week.

Though the former rebels began frantic parleys with other parties to cobble a majority government, they have still not been able to get the assent of the three other biggest parties. The fifth largest party in the constituent assembly, the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party, has declined to join a Maoist-led government.

In their negotiations with the minor parties Monday morning, the Maoists won a measure of success.

Lawmaker C.P. Mainali, who heads the Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist Leninist, said the minor left parties were ready to support a Maoist-led government.

However, the humiliating defeat the Maoists suffered during the presidential election last month has taught them that they need to win the support of either caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC), the second largest in the assembly, or the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the third-largest, or the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), the fourth-largest.

If they fail, the three can form an anti-Maoist coalition and defeat the Maoists, as they did during the presidential poll.

The troika has rejected the common minimum programme tabled by the Maoists in a bid to woo its support. It says that the programme should be drawn in consultation with all the parties who agree to join the government.

The MJF has an added pre-condition: it will not join a Maoist government as long as the former insurgents do not fulfil the demand for an autonomous Madhes province in the Terai plains. The UML says it will not say yes if the NC sits in opposition.

The NC is demurring at joining a Maoist government, saying the former rebels have not kept the pledges they made while signing the peace pact. The indications are that Koirala is testing the waters in India, where he is meeting Indian leaders, to see if he can get away with another coalition government under his own leadership.

A clearer picture will emerge only after Koirala returns from New Delhi.

If they fail to get the approval of the 24 other parties in the assembly, the Maoists are proposing a vote in the house. If they can show simple majority, they can still form the new government.

Failing that, their third option is a minority government under them, a proposal that has been rejected by the UML.

If all three proposals fail, the former rebels say they will sit in opposition and ask the others to form the government.

Almost four months after the April election, Nepal is yet to get a new government due to the fierce feuding among the parties.

The ad hoc government has been unable to tackle the worsening law and order situation, fuel crisis and food scarcity. It has also affected the work of the constituent assembly, throwing doubts on its ability to draft a new constitution in two years.

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

Posted in South Asia |