Nepal's major parties meet to set up new coalition

Nepal's major parties meet to set up new coalition

Leaders of the three major political parties -- the main Opposition CPN-Maoist, the Nepali Congress and the prime minister's Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) -- met on Sunday but failed to reach an agreement to put into practice the May 28 deal.

Embattled Prime Madhav Kumar Nepal had agreed to step down to secure Maoists' support to extend by one year the Constituent Assembly's term, which was to expire on Friday.

The Maoist party had agreed to integrate the PLA combatants soon, disband the party's Young Communist League (YCL) and return of properties seized by them during the decade-long civil war that came to an end in 2006.

UCPN-Maoist vice chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who took part in the meeting today, said it focused on the peace and constitution drafting processes.

The parties differed in their interpretation of the 3-point agreement, which was signed on May 28 to extend the tenure of the Constituent Assembly, Shrestha was quoted as saying by The Himalayan Times on Sunday.

Therefore the parties would discuss among themselves to make concrete decisions on the agreement, he added.

Shrestha said a high-level meeting among the three major parties is planed for tomorrow afternoon.

Top leaders, including Maoists Chairman Prachanda, vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai, Nepali Congress vice chairman Ram Chandra Paudel, General Secretary Bimalendra Nidhi and CPN-UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal attended the meeting.

CPN-Maoist party, with nearly 40 percent of the parliamentary seats, has demanded that it lead a new national coalition to rescue the peace process that has been stalled.
Meanwhile, the     Nepali Congress has underlined its stand that the Maoists will have to transform itself into a "civilian party" before it can be allowed to form a national unity government.

The parliamentary party meeting of the Nepali Congress held at Singha Durbar today concluded that the party will support a Maoist-led new coalition only after resolving all contentious issues as part of a package.

It has asked the Prime Minister not to resign unless the Maoists agree to the number of PLA combatants to be integrated into the military, takes steps to disband the party's armed youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL) and return of properties seized by them during the civil war.

Ten parties of the ruling coalition today also asked Prime Minister Nepal to resign only after reaching an agreement on all contentious issues with the Maoists.

Experts say that while the lawmakers were able to avert a constitutional crisis by extending the term of the parliament last week, there was a risk of further paralysis as the deal was open to various interpretation.

"Until there is compromise on an alternative candidate (for prime minister), the political deadlock will continue," a top analyst said.

The international community while welcoming the the extension of the Assembly, has asked parties to continue in the spirit of compromise to set up a national unity government and draft Nepal's new constitution.

Political tensions have been high in Nepal since a government led by the Maoists resigned last year amid a dispute with the country's President over the reinstatement of former army chief Rukmangad Katawal, who was dismissed by the Prachanda-led government last May.