Nepal Prez concerned over slow progress in govt formation

Kathmandu: With just a day left for expiry of a deadline set by him for forming a national consensus government, Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav on Saturday voiced concern over slow progress in efforts made by major parties in this regard as well as in the Constitution-drafting process.

"The President asked the (caretaker) Prime Minister (Jhalanath Khanal) regarding the progress in the peace process, Constitution-making and government formation," his press adviser Rajendra Dahal said.

Khanal briefed the President regarding the current political situation and progress made so far in peace and Constitution-drafting processes, he said, adding Yadav was concerned over the slow progress.

His comments came as Nepali Congress held consultations with the representatives from 10 fringe parties, including Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Rastriya Janashakti Party and CPN-Marxist Leninist, to win their support for formation of a government led by it.

"We have asked the leaders of the fringe parties to back a Nepali Congress-led government and their response was positive," NC spokesperson Arjun Narsingh Khatri Chhetri said on the eve of the August 21 deadline set by the President.

"We have made it clear that the Nepali Congress cannot join a Maoist-led government unless they lay down their arms and manage their combatants," he said.

General secretary of CPN-Marxist Leninist, CP Mainali, said the fringe parties are ready to support any group that can form a national government with the commitment to conclude peace process and draft a new Constitution at the earliest.

The modalities for integrating the Maoist combatants with the Nepalese security forces and the total strength of such cadres should be determined and a rehabilitation package for the disqualified ones be decided soon, he said.

UCPN-Maoist party, meanwhile, decided to show maximum flexibility in order to form a national consensus government under the leadership of its Vice Chairman Baburam Bhattarai.

"The Maoist Standing Committee meeting held in the Capital today decided to show maximum flexibility on the major issues of the peace process with a view to forming a consensus government under its leadership," party spokesman Dinanath Sharma said.

Separately, the Standing Committee meeting of the CPN-UML concluded that the UCPN-Maoist and Nepali Congress should bring forward a clear roadmap to take the peace process to a logical end prior to the formation of a national consensus government.

"The meeting decided to intensify discussions with other parties to forge consensus on forming national consensus government," party Secretary Shanker Pokharel said.