Nepal govt on shaky wicket; Maoists pile pressure

Nepal PM has assured that he would ask the Maoists to help in moving forward the peace process, Poudyal said.

Kathmandu: Nepal`s Jhalanath Khanal-led
government appeared to be tottering, hardpressed between the
Maoists` arm twisting over their ultimatum for a cabinet
reshuffle and the opposition Nepali Congress` demand to step
down to pave way for a consensus government.

While the Maoists are demanding that a new cabinet be
sworn in to induct a fresh team of ministers from the Maoist
ranks, the main opposition party Nepali Congress, strictly
opposed to a reshuffle, is obstructing the parliament to press
for the implementation of a five-point agreement.

Moreover, some members of Prime Minister Khanal`s own
party are clearly against meeting the demand of the coalition
partner UCPN-Maoist, which wants its team in the cabinet to be

The Prachanda-led party had yesterday set a 24-hour
deadline before Khanal to reshuffle his cabinet. The deadline
was today extended by another day, with the party indicating
it might consider withdrawing support if the demand is not

"We will wait till Monday morning for the Prime
Minister to reshuffle the cabinet," Maoist spokesman Dinanath
Sharma said.

He said the party would make another decision if the
Prime Minister does not act as per their advice.

Maoist chief Prachanda on Friday handed over a list of
two dozen ministers to be inducted in the cabinet under the
leadership of party Vice President Narayan Kaji Shrestha to
replace the incumbent Maoist ministers in the government.

At present the Maoists` team in the cabinet is led by
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Krishna Bahadur
Mahara. But in the face of a growing struggle within the
party, Maoist chief Prachanda has asked Khanal to reshuffle
the cabinet and induct fresh Maoist faces.

However, in the face of opposition from within his own
party`s ranks, including former PM Madhav Kumar Nepal and
former Home Minister Bhim Rawal, the Prime Minister is
hesitant in going for a reshuffle.

The Nepali Congress, meanwhile, continued to pile
pressure on the government by obstructing the parliament for a
fifth day.

The main opposition party is asking the Prime Minister
to implement the five-point agreement reached among the three
major political parties, which includes concluding the peace
process, expediting constitution writing process, integration
of the Maoists` combatants and resignation by the Prime
Minister to pave way for a national consensus government.

Khanal today separately held discussions with Maoist
chief Prachanda and Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala.

During his talks with the Nepali Congress the Prime
Minister said that the government accords top priority to
drafting the constitution and concluding the peace process,
Nepali Congress parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Poudyal

The Prime Minister has assured that he would ask the
Maoists to help in moving forward the peace process, Poudyal

Koirala, on his part, told the Prime Minister that
Nepali Congress was not in a hurry to attain power as the
party`s priority was concluding the peace process and writing
the constitution, according to Poudyal.

The NC also asked the Prime Minister to implement the
five-point agreement signed two months ago.

During his meeting with Prachanda, the Prime Minister
discussed various issues including the peace process, the
cabinet reshuffle and the pressure being exerted by the
opposition upon him to quit power.


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