Prachanda to visit China amid political crisis in Nepal

Prachanda will embark on his fourth visit to China next month.

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2010, 21:35 PM IST

Kathmandu: Prachanda will embark on his
fourth visit to China next month amid a deepening political
crisis in Nepal that had sparked a "bribery scam" linking his
top aide to a Chinese official during the Maoist chief`s
unsuccessful prime ministerial bid.

Prachanda is heading to China towards the end of
October to attend the closing ceremony of Shanghai Expo 2010,
according Janadisha daily, the Maoist mouth piece.

The visit takes place even as the the country is faced
with uncertainty following the failure to elect a new prime
minister, nearly three months after Madhav Kumar Nepal quit
the top post.

Prachanda, who was in the race for the post of the
prime minister, was forced to quit following his failure to
get majority support in Parliament seven times in a row.

Even though the exact date and details of the visit
has not been made public yet, it is seen as significant as it
comes soon after a "bribery" audio tape was leaked to the
media.

In the tape, UCPN-Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara
was reportedly heard asking a Chinese official for Rs 50
crore, apparently for weaning away Madhesi lawmakers ahead of
the seventh round prime ministerial run-off.

The Maoists, who dismissed the allegation, claimed
that it is an attempt at character assassination.

Although the purpose of the visit to Shanghai, at the
invitation of the Chinese government, is to attend the
Shanghai Expo, it is regarded here as significant due to its
crucial timing.

President Dr Ram Baran Yadav is also planning to visit
Shanghai at the same time to attend the closing ceremony of
the expo.

In 2008, Prachanda who was the then prime minister had
sparked a row in Nepal and India when he chose Beijing for his
first visit in break with tradition of Nepalese leaders making
New Delhi the first port of call after taking office.

Even though Prachanda and President were invited for
the Beijing Olympic Games, the Maoist leader visited China
while Yadav turned down the invitation.

The visit is taking place when Nepal is facing a
serious political crisis. Nepal`s parliament yesterday failed
to elect a new Prime Minister for the eighth time in a row as
R C Poudyal of Nepali Congress was unable to garner majority
support even after the withdrawal of Prachanda.

Following Prachanda`s failure to get majority support
in Parliament seven times in a row, the Maoist chief on
September 17 withdrew from the election after a deal with the
CPN-UML in bid to facilitate the formation of a national
consensus government.

Nearly three months after the 22-party coalition led
by Prime Minister Nepal collapsed, eight rounds of poll have
failed to elect a new leader. The country has been without a
government since June 30, when Nepal stood down under intense
pressure from the Maoists.

PTI