Nepal PM refuses to quit `till consensus on national govt`

Nepal`s PM Jhala Nath Khanal is caught between an implacable opposition and a feckless ally.

Kathmandu: Political crisis in Nepal
deepened on Saturday as a crucial meeting of the main parties failed
to agree on a national unity government even as the embattled
Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal refused to quit till a
consensus is formed on a new coalition.

The talks failed to make any headway after the main
opposition Nepali Congress walked out of the meeting, asking
Khanal to include the Terai-based Madhesi parties, the fourth
largest group in parliament, in the dialogue for a national

The Prime Minister, who earlier this month had promised
to step down, was neither ready to quit the post nor prepared
to include the Madhesi parties in the dialogue, said
Ramchandra Poudyal, the vice president of Nepali Congress

CPN-UML leader Khanal, who was elected prime minster on
February 3 after 17 rounds of polls in Parliament, had said
that he would resign if the major works related to the peace
process were not completed by August 13.

We have been asking the Prime Minister to resign as he
has failed to move forward the peace process and make tangible
progress in drafting the new constitution, he said, after the
meeting of the three main political parties - the CPN-UML,
UCPN-Maoist and the Nepali Congress.

During the meeting, Khanal is learnt to have told other
leaders that his resignation without a consensus on a new
government would result in a constitutional crisis as the
extended term of the Constituent Assembly is set to expire in
August end.

Nepali Congress, the second largest party in parliament,
has been disrupting the proceedings of the Parliament for more
than a week, demanding Khanal`s resignation in order to
implement a five-point deal he had signed with UCP-Maoist and
Nepali Congress while extending the term of the 601-member
Assembly on May 28 by three months.

The pact includes concluding the 2006 peace process,
expediting constitution writing process, integration of the
Maoists` combatants with the security forces and resignation
of the Prime Minister to pave way for a national government.

Poudyal hoped that Khanal might step down later today as
there was no other alternative to resolve the crisis.

During the talks, the Maoist leaders ruled out the
possibility of integrating the former combatants within the
deadline given by the Prime Minister, he said.

The Maoist party, the single largest group in parliament,
and the Nepali Congress have claimed the right to lead a
national government.

The Maoists have projected Vice Chairman Baburam
Bhattarai as the next prime ministerial candidate.

The Assembly, formed in 2008 after a popular election,
has failed to fulfill its main function to draft a new
constitution though its term was extended twice, the latest on
May 29 which is set expire in end of August.

Even as Nepal`s prime minister was locked in last-ditch
talks with other political leaders to prevent a constitutional
crisis, Environment Minister Sunil Manandhar said Khanal will
not step down in the present circumstances.
During a crucial meeting of the ruling alliance, the
Prime Minister was advised not to resign but to find a
resolution to the political crisis through consensus among the
deadlocked political parties.

Manandhar said after the meeting that Khanla was
advised not to quit power but to find a resolution to the
crisis through political consensus.

However, the Prime Minister will consult his party
colleagues as well as leaders of other political parties
tomorrow before making any crucial decision, the minister


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