No end to political deadlock in Nepal amid fears of turmoil

Last Updated: Saturday, May 22, 2010 - 23:44

Kathmandu: Nepal`s political parties
failed to end the deadlock, which is pushing the country
towards a constitutional crisis, as the Maoists on Saturday refused
to cooperate in extending the term of the Constituent Assembly
till the Prime Minister steps down.

Leaders of the three major political parties -- the
CPN-Maoist, the Nepali Congress and the prime minister`s
Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) -- met each
other but failed to reach an agreement to extended the term of
the Constituent Assembly beyond May 28 amid its failure to
promulgate a constitution.

Top CPN-Maoist leaders, including party chief
Prachanda, today held dialogue with Nepali Congress acting
president Shushil Koirala, but failed to reach an agreement.

The Maoists demanded the resignation of the Prime
Minister before extending the term of the Assembly, said
Bimalendra Nidhi, Nepali Congress general secretary.

Nepal has refused to quit under pressure and asked the
Maoists to implement past agreements to create an atmosphere
of trust in the country.

The 22-party ruling coalition has introduced a bill in
the 601-Assembly to extend the term of the House for one year
so that it can finish the task of framing a new constitution.

CPN-Maoist party, with nearly 35 percent of the
parliamentary seats, have refused to cooperate in extending
the Assembly till the Prime Minister steps down.

Without the Maoists support, the ruling coalition
would be unable to garner the two-thirds parliamentary vote
required to get the proposal approved by the House.

Faulting the Maoists for the deadlock, he said the
extension of the Assembly`s term is in no way related to the
Prime Minister’s resignation.

If the Maoists are honest in implementing the 2006
Comprehensive Peace Agreement, they should endorse the
extension of the Assembly, he underlined.

We told the Maoists that we can discuss the issue of
resignation of the Prime Minister and formation of national
consensus government through a package deal, Nidhi told PTI.

He said the former rebels should first agree on the
number of combatants to be integrated and rehabilitated,
return the seized property, dissolve their paramilitary
organisation in the Young Communist League and express
commitment to a democratic, federal republic constitution
before we may consider their demand.

Experts fear that the country will plunge into a
political crisis if the term of the House is not extended.

The country will be dragged into an abyss from where
it is difficult to come out if the Assembly’s tenure is not
extended before it expires on May 28, said Nilambar Acharya,
president of the Constitutional Committee that is entrusted to
draft the document.

The issue of extending the term of the House should
not be linked to any other demands, he underlined.
Jhalanath Khanal, president of the CPN-UML which is
heading the coalition government, said that the political
parties were working to reach a consensus in order to resolve
the current political impasse.

A national consensus government will be formed
whenever a consensus is reached among the political parties,
he added.

He, however, ruled out the possibility of dissolving
the current coalition government before May 28.

Political tensions 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 in May 2009.

The standoff has put new stresses on Nepal`s
reconciliation efforts amid fears that the stalled peace
process may be derailed if the Maoists refuse to cooperate in
extending the term of the Assembly, which is set to expire by
the end of the month.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, May 22, 2010 - 23:44

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