Nepali Congress claims govt leadership as Nepal plans to quit

A top leader of the largest party in the ruling coalition Saturday put forward his claim to lead a national government.

Updated: Jun 19, 2010, 18:52 PM IST

Kathmandu: A top leader of the largest
party in the ruling coalition Saturday put forward his claim to
lead a national government, as the embattled Prime Minister
planed to quit amid a standoff over power sharing in Nepal.

Gopal Man Shrestha, the Nepali Congress vice
president, said it is the turn of the Nepali Congress to lead
the government as both the Maoists and the CPN-UML have
already headed governments over the past two years and failed
to draft a new constitution.

As both the Maoists and the CPN-UML have already got a
chance to lead the government over the past two years and they
have failed to draft the constitution, now it is the turn of
the Nepali Congress to stake its claim of government
leadership, Shrestha underlined.

The political parties are deadlocked over a deal
wherby Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal had agreed to step
down as demanded by opposition Maoists after it agreed to
support the extension of the term of the Constituent Assembly
by one year on May 28.

The Nepali Congress is largest party in the ruling
22-party coalition, which is involved in a bitter struggle to
keep the Maoists away from power. CPN-Maoist, the single
largest party with nearly 40 per cent of the parliamentary
seats, has claimed to lead a national coalition to rescue the
peace process and frame a new constitution.

However, the ruling alliance has reiterated that the
Maoist cannot lead the government unless they convert the
party into a civilian organisation and return the properties
seized during the decade-long insurgency which ended in 2006.
Now it is the turn of the Nepali Congress to claim
the government leadership as the Maoists have not yet returned
the property they seized during the conflict, dissolved the
paramilitary organisation of the Young Communist League and
manage their combatants, Shrestha said.

As per media reports here, the embattled Prime
Minister has made up his mind to quit according to the
three-point agreement reached with the Maoists last month.

Reports here claimed that Nepal was set to resign
yesterday but his party colleagues asked him to postpone the

Meanwhile, the CPN-UML president Jhalanath Khanal
hinted that the days of the present coalition led by his party
are numbered.

The Prime Minister will tender his resignation very
soon as per the three-point agreement, Khanal said, as he
accepted that the government had failed to draft the
constitution and maintain law and order in the country.

Shrestha said a national consensus government would be
able to complete the peace process and draft the new
constitution within a year as agreed upon by the political

He, however, pointed out that only a coalition
including the Maoists would be able to draft the constitution
and conclude the 2006 peace process.

The Nepali Congress leader said his party will
initiate dialogue with all parties, including the Maoists, the
Terai-based Madhesi and other fringe parties in order to form
a new government after the prime minister tenders his

CPN-UML chief Khanal asked the Maoists to fulfil its
promises, including converting its party into a civilian

He said the Maoists cannot claim leadership of the
government unless the party is converted into a civilian
organisation by dissolving their youth wing, Young Communist

A new government should be formed soon by forging a
national consensus, he noted, adding that any political party
that can bring about a consensus can claim the leadership of a
new coalition.

At the same time, he warned that country will plunge
into a catastrophe if consensus cannot be forged to find a way
out from the current stalemate.

Political tensions over power sharing have been high
in Nepal since a government led by the Maoists resigned last
year amid a dispute with President Ram Baran Yadav over the
reinstatement of former army chief Rukmangad Katawal, who was
dismissed by the Prachanda-led government last May.