Nepal: Political parties fight over PM`s post

The parliament formed in 2008 after a popular election failed to fulfill the main function to draft a new constitution.

Kathmandu: Ahead of the key August 21 deadline set by President Ram Baran Yadav, Nepal`s two largest parties met on Thursday to discuss the formation of national unity government, but could not agree on who should lead the coalition.

Maoists` Prime Ministerial candidate Baburam Bhattarai also met leaders of CPN-UML, the third largest party, while Nepali Congress candidate Sher Bahadur Deuba held talks with the Terai-based parties to seek their support.

The UCPN-Maoist and the main opposition Nepali Congress agreed to form a national consensus government, but failed to decide, which party would lead the government first as both the parties staked claim to the Prime minister`s post, the Himalayan Times online reported.

The Maoist claimed the right to lead the government first as it was the largest party. Nepali Congress underlined the need to form a government under its leadership as both the Maoist party and the CPN-UML has already led a coalition after the Constituent Assembly elections held in 2008, the report said.

No party holds a majority of seats in parliament. The UCPN-Maoist, which has 238 seats in the Constituent Assembly, is largest party in the Assembly, which acts as the country`s interim Parliament. The second largest Nepali Congress has 114 members in the House followed by CPN-UML, which has 108 members.

United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of five Madhes-based parties, has decided to support national consensus government, but is yet to come out in open in support of one of the two main parties.

The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), which has over 60 lawmakers in Nepal`s 601-member Constituent Assembly, can play crucial role in forming the government.

"One who can form a national consensus government will get our support," said Rajendra Mahato, President of Sadbhawana Party, a member of the alliance after the meeting.

"It is essential to form a national consensus government to complete the peace process and to draft the new constitution," he said.

CPN-UML leader Jhala Nath Khanal, who was elected Nepal Prime Minster on February 3 after 17 rounds of polls in Parliament, quit amid intense pressure from the Maoists and the Nepali Congress for failure to push forward the 2006 peace process.

Integrating the 19,000 former Maoist guerrilla forces into the national army is one of the key sticking points in the stalled peace process, with military leaders and the Nepali Congress resisting the move.

The parliament, which was 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 at the end this month.


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