Nepal minister sounds warning to Maoist government

Nepal minister Rajendra Mahato told the govt to take the steps within a month to complete the peace process.

New Delhi: A senior minister from Nepal`s Terai plains has threatened to look for an alternative to the Maoist-led government if the country`s three major political parties fail to "take positive steps" within a month to complete the peace process and draft a new constitution.

"In a month`s time, if the peace and constitutional processes do not take positive steps ahead we will begin searching for an alternative to the present government," said Nepal`s Health and Population Minister Rajendra Mahato, who heads the Sadbhavana Party.

Mahato, here on a private visit, was talking to a select group of Indian journalists. His Sadbhavana Party is a member of the five-party United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) which lends crucial support to the Baburam Bhattarai-led government in Nepal.

"It is essential to form a consensus to complete the peace process and to draft the new constitution… The Madhesi alliance will look for an alternative to this government if the Maoists obstruct the peace process... We will be forced to take to the streets if the UML and Nepali Congress too raise obstacles," warned Mahato.

Nepal`s 601-member Constituent Assembly, whose term has been extended four times, is tasked with completing the peace process - the assimilation of surrendered Maoist guerrillas into security forces - and framing of a new constitution for the former Hindu kingdom.

The political leaders are struggling to meet a May 28 deadline to finish the drafting of a new constitution as stipulated by the peace process that brought the civil war to an end in 2006.

Disagreements persist on such fundamental issues as the structure of the national government and the creation of federal states.

The UCPN-Maoist, with 237 members, is the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, which acts as interim parliament. The second largest Nepali Congress has 114 members followed by CPN-UML, which has 108 members.

The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of five Madhes-based parties, has a combined strength of around 80 seats in the Constituent Assembly.