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Khanal, Prachanda close to deal on power sharing

Last Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 00:27

Kathmandu: Nepal`s new Prime Minister
Jhalanath Khanal appeared to have reached an understanding
with the Maoists over sharing of government ministries, with
indications that the former rebels may get 11 portfolios in
the new cabinet, including Home and Foreign Affairs.

The CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoists were sparring over
power sharing for over 10 days when the new prime minister was
sworn in, making it impossible for the government to function.

However, CPN-UML leader Khanal and Maoist chief
Prachanda appear to have reached an understanding during a
meeting the two held today, increasing the possibility of the
largest party joining the government in a day or two.

Earlier, the Maoists had threatened that they would
not join the government if the seven-point agreement reached
between the two top leaders prior to Khanal`s election, is not
implemented.

During the meeting today, Prime Minister Khanal is
believed to have agreed to concede 11 ministerial portfolios,
including Home and Foreign Affairs to the Maoists, and keep
eight for his CPN-UML party, Maoist sources said.

"We have tentatively discussed the power sharing
issues and the Home and Foreign are likely to be allocated for
our party," said Maoist spokesman Dinanath Sharma.

He, however, said that the final decision will be
taken after the party`s high-level meeting endorses the
decision tomorrow.

Krishna Bahadur Mahara, foreign department chief of
the party, is likely to be made deputy prime minister, sources
close to the Maoist said.

However, press advisor to Prime Minister Surya Thapa
appeared more cautious in revealing the details of today`s
meetings.

He said that though the two leaders had
discussions regarding portfolio distribution, no final
decision has so far been made regarding key ministries
including Home and Foreign.

The matter will be settled after the Central
Committee meeting of the party tomorrow, he said.

However, in the high-level meeting tomorrow, Khanal is
likely to face strong opposition from the moderate group
within the party, led by former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar
Nepal and K P Sharma Oli, over his reported deal with
Prachanda on power sharing, particularly on giving Home
Ministry to the Maoists.

Senior leader of the party Oli was not allowed to
enter the Prime Minister`s official residence today sparking a
debate within the ruling party.

Oli has strongly opposed the 7-point pact between
Prime Minister Khanal and Maoist chief Prachanda that was
reached before the latter stepped out of the prime ministerial
race in favour of the former.

The Khanal-Prachanda agreement includes, among other
things, provisions to share the prime ministerial berth on
rotational basis, sharing key ministries of Home, Defence and
Foreign among the two largest Communist parties and setting up
a separate force within the Nepal Army while integrating the
Maoist combatants.

Some opposition parties, including the Nepali
Congress, and a section within the CPN-UML, have made their
reservations known on giving the vital Home Ministry to the
former rebels and on clauses in the so-called 7-point
agreement on forming a separate security force for Maoist
combatants.

The main opposition Nepali Congress party has strongly
opposed the 7-point deal saying it violated all the peace
agreements signed in the past and the interim Constitution.

NC leader Sujata Koirala had said earlier that her
party may join a national consensus government if Premier
Khanal amends the 7-point power-sharing deal he reached with
the Maoist supremo.

However, main opposition leader Ramchandra Poudyal
said there was no possibility of joining a Maoist-led
government, and contended that the views expressed by Koirala
were her "personal views".

Poudyal claimed the seven-point deal was a ploy to
deceive the people.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 00:27

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