Nepal Prez sets Aug 21 deadline for national govt
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 00:44
  
Kathmandu: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav on Tuesday set an August 21 deadline for the political parties to form a national unity government after Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal quit, blaming his key ally Maoists and the main opposition party for the deadlock in the country.

The president initiated the process for the formation of a new government soon after Khanal stepped down yesterday amid weeks of intense pressure from the Nepali Congress and UCPN-Maoist for his failure to push forward the peace process.

Yadav directed the political parties to form a consensus government by August 21, President's Office said.

Khanal was asked by the president to serve as the caretaker Prime Minister after accepting his resignation, Yadav's press advisor Rajendra Dahal said.

There will be an election in the parliament for the majority government as per the interim constitution if a national consensus government is not formed within the given deadline.

61-year-old Khanal, who headed a fragile coalition of three parties, blamed the Maoists and the Nepali Congress for the political deadlock, including the failure to make tangible progress on the peace process and drafting of a new constitution.

"Nepali Congress should have supported the government, but they didn't," Khanal told lawmakers in a special address to 601-member Constituent Assembly, which functions as the country's interim Parliament.

"Maoist also could not support the government on peace process (according to) as my expectations," said Khanal, ending his 6-month 9-day long tenure as the 34th Prime Minister.

The caretaker prime minister warned that there would be no national consensus if they stick to their stance.

"If Maoist couldn't be practical and if Nepali Congress remained adamant on their demand for their leadership in government, national consensus can't be formed," Khanal said, a day after he quit.

"Despite my continuous effort until the last minute, I Couldn’t ensure tangible progress in peace process by the deadline that I had set," he told lawmakers of different parties who has stepped up consultations to form a new coalition.

Khanal said his administration was able to bring the Maoists on board at a time when the former rebels were sidelined from power.

He said he had "resigned to pave way for forming a national consensus government that would be instrumental in concluding the peace process and drafting of a new constitution".

"I became PM for national consensus," he said, adding

"And, I am resigning for the same."

"I became PM for national consensus," he said. "And, I am resigning for the same."

CPN-UML leader Khanal, who was elected prime minster on February 3 after 17 rounds of polls in Parliament, had said earlier this month that he would resign if there was "no concrete" progress on the 2006 peace process.

Khanal's coalition is the shortest Communist government in the country. Khanal served for just over six months in power, making his government the shortest that has ruled the country in the last decade.

Nepali Congress, Khanal's key ally Maoists and the Terai-based Madhesi Front had mounted intense pressure on him to honour his commitment to step down as part of the May 29 five-point deal he had signed while extending the term of the Assembly on May 28 by three months.

The parliament, 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.

The Maoist party, who led a decade long insurgency till 2006, and the Nepali Congress have claimed the right to lead a national government.

The UCPN-Maoist, the single largest party in parliament has 238 seats and the CPN-UML has 108 seats in the Assembly, which acts as the country's interim Parliament. The second largest Nepali Congress has 114 members in the House.

The Maoists have projected its Vice Chairman Baburam Bhattarai as the next prime ministerial candidate. They have stepped up consultations with other political parties to put together a national government.

Nepali Congress, the centrist party, is yet to decide whom to back amid claims by both former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Parliamentary Party leader Ramchandra Poudyal, who was the party candidate in the last round of polls.

The failure to put together a national government will deepen the political crisis as the term of the Assembly is set to expire later this month and it is unlikely that a new constitution will be drafted within the period.

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.

PTI


First Published: Monday, August 15, 2011, 16:17


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