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Thursday, August 25, 2011     GET REAL

Nepal party, Maoists, still deadlocked in threat
to peace process

By Anil Giri,

After failing to form a consensual government within 10 days, Nepal’s President on Aug. 24 renewed his call to the country's political parties to form a majority government.


Nepal's Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal, right, and Zhou Yongkang, special envoy of Chinese President Hu Jintao, applaud after signing an agreement on economic cooperation, in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Aug. 16.     AP/Binod Joshi
The integration and rehabilitation of the 19,000 former Maoist combatants into the various security agencies and in the society remains as bone of contention among the parties.

The political turmoil, which started in 2009 with the fall of the Maoist government, threatens to derail the fragile peace process that saw the Maoist insurgency end in 2006.

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Maoists have the most members of Parliament but not enough to control it. Their re-entry into the political process officially ended their decade-long insurgency.

President Ram Baram Yadav sent a letter to the parliament and asked for a majroity vote on a prime minister. The extended deadline to form such government expired on the evening of Aug. 24 after two major parties — UCPN (Maoist) and Nepali Congress, who have been staking claims to the premiership, failed to reach an agreement.

The fundamental objective for the consensual government is to achieve tangible progress in the ongoing peace and constitution drafting process. As per the constitutional provisions, now the Legislature-Parliament will have to elect the new prime minister based on majority votes.

The country has seen three majority-based governments since the elections of the Constituent Assembly in 2008, which was tasked to write a new constitution of federal, republic and secular Nepal within two years.

The unfinished tasks of finalizing the peace agreement and the constitution are taken as major obstacles for the consensual politics in Nepal. The parliament secretariat said the election date would be decided on Aug. 25, when parliament convenes.

An elected prime minister bodes ill for Nepal, which saw two earlier PMs, elected on the basis of majority, forced to quit within months.

The peace process was to have climaxed with a new people’s constitution. However, with just a week left for the statute to be unveiled, it is certain that the parties will again fail to perform the task. They have already missed two earlier deadlines and are now trying to extend the Aug 31 deadline by three months even as a battle is being fought in the Supreme Court with two lawyers challenging the repeated extensions of the deadline.

Since the caretaker PM Jhala Nath Khanal resigned on Aug. 14, parties had intensified talks to from a national consensus government by Aug. 24.

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