Nepal President extends deadline for new governmentBy Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Friday, January 21, 2011
KATHMANDU - Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav extended the deadline given to the warring political parties to form a consensus government after they failed to agree on a new prime minister by Friday, the earlier deadline given to them.
The President’s office said in view of the request by the parties for more time, they would now be given till Wednesday to come up with a political leadership acceptable to all.
The three largest parties - the ruling communists, their ally the Nepali Congress and the opposition Maoists - called an emergency meeting Friday and claimed they had reached a compromise: all three have agreed to take part in the new government though it was still undecided who would lead it.
A last-minute rush for consensus then saw the trio hold talks with the 25 other parties in parliament and agree to ask the president for an extension.
It was a repetition of the situation in 2009 after the fall of the Maoist-led government when the bickering parties failed to name a consensus government within the time given by the president and sought an extension.
The fight for power could not be resolved within the extra time as well and forced the president to call elections so that a majority government could be formed.
But 16 rounds of election failed to produce any result and now, it is back to square one for Nepal with the stalemate continuing for nearly seven months.
Till now, each of the three largest parties had been demanding that they be allowed to lead the new government.
To add to the complexities, each party has two contenders and the intra-party tussles have taken them on the verge of vertical splits.
The crisis makes it doubtful if Nepal will be able to proclaim a new constitution by May 28, a task it should have completed last year but failed due to the political turmoil.
The most formidable barrier to the new constitution is the presence of the Maoists’ guerrilla army with its nearly 20,000 combatants.
Though the Maoists and the ruling parties had agreed five years ago to either recruit the fighters in the national army or rehabilitate them, the task is expected to start only from Saturday when the guerrillas formally dissociate themselves from the party and pass under the control of a special committee headed by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)