Nepal`s major parties meet to set up new coalition

Nepal`s ruling alliance and Maoists held talks to set up a new coalition govt.

Last Updated: May 31, 2010, 00:39 AM IST

Kathmandu: Nepal`s ruling alliance and
the main Opposition Maoists held talks Sunday to set up a new
coalition government after the PM agreed to step
down following a last-minute deal to avert a political crisis
in the country last week.

Leaders of the three major political parties -- the
main Opposition CPN-Maoist, the Nepali Congress and the prime
minister`s Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist)
-- met today but failed to reach an agreement to put into
practice the May 28 deal.

Embattled Prime Madhav Kumar Nepal had agreed to step
down to secure Maoists` support to extend by one year the
Constituent Assembly`s term, which was to expire on Friday.

The Maoist party had agreed to integrate the PLA
combatants soon, disband the party`s Young Communist League
(YCL) and return of properties seized by them during the
decade-long civil war that came to an end in 2006.

UCPN-Maoist vice chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who
took part in the meeting today, said it focused on the peace
and constitution drafting processes.

The parties differed in their interpretation of the
3-point agreement, which was signed on May 28 to extend the
tenure of the Constituent Assembly, Shrestha was quoted as
saying by The Himalayan Times today.

Therefore the parties would discuss among themselves
to make concrete decisions on the agreement, he added.

Shrestha said a high-level meeting among the three
major parties is planed for tomorrow afternoon.

Top leaders, including Maoists Chairman Prachanda,
vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai, Nepali Congress vice chairman
Ram Chandra Paudel, General Secretary Bimalendra Nidhi and
CPN-UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal attended the meeting.

CPN-Maoist party, with nearly 40 percent of the
parliamentary seats, has demanded that it lead a new national
coalition to rescue the peace process that has been stalled.

Meanwhile, the Nepali Congress has underlined its
stand that the Maoists will have to transform itself into a
"civilian party" before it can be allowed to form a national
unity government.

The parliamentary party meeting of the Nepali Congress
held at Singha Durbar today concluded that the party will
support a Maoist-led new coalition only after resolving all
contentious issues as part of a package.

It has asked the Prime Minister not to resign unless
the Maoists agree to the number of PLA combatants to be
integrated into the military, takes steps to disband the
party`s armed youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL) and
return of properties seized by them during the civil war.

Ten parties of the ruling coalition today also asked
Prime Minister Nepal to resign only after reaching an
agreement on all contentious issues with the Maoists.

Experts say that while the lawmakers were able to
avert a constitutional crisis by extending the term of the
parliament last week, there was a risk of further paralysis as
the deal was open to various interpretation.

"Until there is compromise on an alternative candidate
(for prime minister), the political deadlock will continue," a
top analyst said.

The international community while welcoming the the
extension of the Assembly, has asked parties to continue in
the spirit of compromise to set up a nati

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