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  Asia-Pacific
Nepal Can Expect a Consensus of Government Soon
By Nava Thakuria
Special Correspondent
Comprehensive peace agreement between Nepal Government and Nepal Communist Party (Maoists)

After weeks of political uncertainties, Nepal might have a government of consensus soon. The hope rises after President Ram Baran Yadav's invitation to the leader of the largest political party of Nepal to form the government. The uncertainty continued in the Himalayan nation, as the rebellion communist party, which emerged as the largest party after April polls, denied to join the government at Kathmandu. They felt uneasy to go ahead with the government after their candidate for the 'Head of the State' and his subordinate lost at Constituent Assembly.

In fact, a last minute emergence of a three party alliance, opposing rebellion communists, even compelled their leader Prachanda to rethink about his next course of actions. Prachanda, whose real name is Pushpa Kamal Dahal, led a bloody revolution demanding the removal of the Hindu monarchy in Nepal and later projected as the Prime Minister of the federal democratic republic at Kathmandu.

His way to the head of the government office was lined up after the April 10 general election (to form the Constituent Assembly), where his party (the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist) scored highest number of seats (220). They were followed by the Nepali Congress (110 members) and Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist (103 members), the second and third largest political parties respectively in the Himalayan nation.

Excited with the people's verdict, the Maoists initially went on demanding both the posts of President and Prime Minister for their leaders. But soon they faced the heat of democracy, when the other political parties rejected their demand outright. The Maoists then left their claim for the post of President but stuck to the post of an executive Prime Minister (which was reserved for Prachanda).

Then the Nepali Congress (110 members) projected its leader Girija Prasad Koirala as their candidate for the first President of Nepal. But the Maoist supremo Prachanda rejected the proposal, because he feared that a senior politician like Koirala as President would definitely invite trouble for him (as Prime Minister). He, however, described Koirala as a statesman and a national figure of Nepal, but wanted him to keep away from any heavy responsibility because of his age (over 80) and fragile health.

Koirala was also put under tremendous pressure by the Maoists to resign as acting Prime Minister. After his resignation, Koirala was waiting for an elected President who would replace the King as the ceremonial head of the state and accept his resignation letter. The Nepal Constituent Assembly on May 23 abolished monarchy and declared the country as a democratic republic. Soon after being dethroned, King Gyanendra was even asked to leave the Narayanhiti Palace, a royal and sacred place for the Nepalis.

The presidential and vice-presidential race in the Constituent Assembly has, however, changed the ambience totally. In fact, the changing situation paved the way for an alliance of three political parties opposing the Maoists. During the July 19 polls in the Assembly, the Maoists faced the first defeat when their candidate Shanta Shrestha lost to Paramananda Jha, a Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Madhesi People's Rights Forum) candidate for the post of Vice-President. Jha, 73, bagged 305 votes in the 601-member Constituent Assembly to get elected for the ceremonial post.

The polls for President could not be completed on Saturday as no one gained the required minimum number (301) of votes. The final round of the polls held on July 21, where Ram Baran Yadav, 61, was declared elected as the first President of Nepal. Yadav, also a Madhesi (who are culturally and linguistically closer to India) candidate won the support from 308 members in the Assembly. With the support from the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist, the medical practitioner turned politician, defeated the Maoists backed candidate Ram Raja Prasad Singh, 74 convincingly.

Facing the critical situation, the Maoists decided not to form the government and rather preferred to sit in the opposition. Prachanda disclosed their decision on July 22 that they would 'not go to form the government.' Earlier he termed the alliance (Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist and Madhesi People's Rights Forum) as 'unholy.'

Lastly Prachanda offered a way out to go for the exercise of government formation and put three conditions in front of the other political parties. First, he wanted the unholy alliance (of three parties) to be disbanded. Secondly, the Maoists' agenda should get priority in preparing a common minimum programme for the government. Thirdly, they demanded a written commitment from other parties that their government would continue at least for two years.

The opposition parties have called the conditions absurd and said their alliance would continue. The fundamental job of the political parties, government and the Constituent Assembly together is to write a new constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority of the assembly, which is not possible unless the three main political forces the Maoists, the Nepali Congress, and the smaller Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist come together.

Prachanda bowed down to other parties once again lately and made clarification that their three points were not 'pre-conditions to form the government', but their views. He also opined that they were ready to discuss and take consent from other political parties to go ahead with the exercise of government formation. An important meeting between the President Dr Yadav and Prachanda at Rastrapati Bhawan on July 30 brought the ray of hope to end the political uncertainty in Nepal, where they reportedly discussed about the formation of the government by Maoists with the help & cooperation from other political parties of the country.

Meanwhile, the central committee of CPN-M had discussed about the formalities relating to formation of a national consensus government. Quoting Prachanda, the local media reported, "The meeting discussed on the conceptual paper of the proposal which we want to present to the other political parties for forming a consensus government."



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Nava Thakuria, who serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove, and can be contacted at navathakuria@gmail.com

 

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