World Bank 'strong partner' of Nepal in transition

Kathmandu: The World Bank has said it will remain a strong partner of Nepal in its transition to peace and stability, as it underlined the need for consensus among the political parties to put the country on a path of high economic growth and development.

"The World Bank will remain a firm partner to Nepal in the transition to peace and stability," said Ellen Goldstein, the World Bank’s Country Director for Nepal and Bhutan after meeting senior government officials and leaders of major political parties in the capital.

She said the present situation is an unparalleled opportunity for Nepalis across the political spectrum to cement the peace in a spirit of compromise and to put the country on a path of high economic growth and development.

She arrived here to consult with the new government, political leaders and senior government officials on the World Bank’s country strategy for Nepal for 2012-2013.

The Bank’s Board of Executive Directors is scheduled to discuss the new strategy on September 15.

She met Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun and discussed the economic and development priorities of the new coalition government, according to a World Bank press release.

She also held discussion with Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML chairman and former Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and Constituent Assembly members.

The country has faced political instability and deadlock since the 2008 election to the parliament, delaying the peace process and drafting of the constitution.

Nepal's main opposition Nepali Congress has stepped up pressure on the new Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to conclude the peace process, particularly issues related to the rehabilitation and integration of the former Maoist fighters housed in various cantonments in the country.

Nepali Congress has rejected a proposal by the new Prime Minister Bhattarai to join the ruling coalition amid a row over the peace process.

One of the key sticking points in the peace plan has been the proposed integration of 19,000 former Maoist rebel fighters into the army, with military leaders and the Nepali Congress resisting the move.

The election of 57-year-old JNU-educated Bhattarai as the new Prime Minister on August 28 came after weeks of political wrangling among the major parties in the country.