Nepal crisis deepens as parties fail to name new PM

The crisis gripping Nepal since the fall of its Maoist govt has deepened.

Kathmandu: The crisis gripping Nepal since the fall of its first Maoist government in 2009 deepened on Sunday with the parties continuing to trade charges and failing to name a new prime minister.

The 25 parliamentary parties need to come up with a new consensus government by Monday to replace the caretaker government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who resigned July 30.

The new premier should have been named by July 06. However, as the bickering parties failed to reach an agreement, President Ram Baran Yadav agreed to extend the deadline to Monday.

Now Nepal seems doomed to go round in circles with the major parties frittering away precious time without addressing national interests.

The Maoists, who want to return to power, angered the parties instead of seeking reconciliation as they unveiled their plan to take the halted peace process ahead.

The former guerrillas said they were ready to dismantle their youth wing, the Young Communist League, regarded as being their paramilitary organisation, as well as their guerrilla army with over 19,000 combatants.

The Maoists are advocating that their People`s Liberation Army (PLA) be put under a special committee, that would decide how many fighters would join the national army.

They are seeking that each discharged guerrilla be given NRS 1 million to start a new life. Those who want to join the Army should be inducted as per international recruitment norms.

In case the Army is unwilling to accept the guerrillas, in their midst, the Maoists have proposed the creation of separate units comprising solely of Maoist combatants.

But the proposal was opposed fiercely by the ruling parties on Sunday, who said it was unilateral and against the peace accord signed in 2006.

The prime minister is also accusing the Maoists of being responsible for the murder of a party cadre, Chhabi Karki, who was stabbed to death in eastern Okhaldhunga district Thursday.

"The Maoists are a criminal party," the prime minister said at a public programme in the capital Saturday to offer last respects to the slain local leader. "They have yet not transformed into a civilian party. We will take action against Karki`s killers as per law."

As it becomes evident that the parties will not be able to name a consensus prime minister by Monday, the president will ask them to produce a candidate who can show majority support in the 601-member parliament.

The ruling parties - the prime minister`s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Nepali Congress - will then have an edge over the Maoists if their alliance stands.

However, the Maoists are trying to split the Communists and the process of forming a majority government will lead to what Maoist chief Prachanda in the past dubbed a "dirty game" - horse-trading and floor-crossing.

A government formed under such a cloud will have no staying power, as the nine-month-old Maoist government and its successor, the 13-month-old Nepal government showed.

The race for three governments in two years has dealt a blow to the task of writing a new Constitution, the centrepiece of the peace accord.

The Constitution was to have been ready by May. But it failed the deadline due to the war among the parties.

Now it is poised to miss the extended deadline of May 2011 as well with the bickering parties failing to resume work on it, even nearly one and a half months of the extension having gone by.


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