Nepal Maoists fail to form government within deadline

August 5th, 2008 - 6:51 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Aug 5 (IANS) Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas Tuesday failed to meet the seven-day presidential deadline given to them to form a new government, raising grave doubts about the possibility of a government under their stewardship. The former rebels, who managed a stunning victory in the election four months ago, will now ask President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to extend the deadline by three more days.

The president had last Tuesday given them a week to prove their strength in the caretaker parliament and form the new government.

One week later, last-minute frantic negotiations between the Maoists and the other three top parties - caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC), the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) - failed to break the deepening deadlock over power-sharing.

The four parties finally agreed to form a committee that will draft a new common minimum programme after an earlier 50-point document tabled by the Maoists was rejected by the other three.

There could be a new twist to the ongoing political drama with Koirala calling a surprise meeting of the leaders of the four parties at his residence Tuesday evening.

The caretaker prime minister returned to Kathmandu from New Delhi Monday night after consultations with Indian leaders, including Indian Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Indian opposition BJP’s leader L.K. Advani.

Nepal’s Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, who had accompanied Koirala, told the media that the Indian leaders lauded Koirala’s leadership and urged for a consensus government in Nepal.

Political analysts in Nepal feel that emboldened by the neighbourly support, Koirala, though 83 and afflicted with failing health, may try to cobble a government under his own leadership.

Even if he doesn’t, the Maoists, who had planned to form a majority or even minority government if they failed to woo all the other top parties, will now find it impossible to float a new government unless it is supported by the NC.

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood met Maoist supremo Prachanda early Tuesday morning, before the parleys with the other parties began.

Sood is believed to have conveyed New Delhi’s thoughts on a consensus and national government in Nepal.

There is already growing anger among the Maoists at the failure to form a new government.

Maoist lawmaker Agni Sapkota flayed India at a meeting in Chitwan district in south Nepal Monday, accusing the NC and UML of being under India’s control.

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