Nepal: 24-hour Maoist ultimatum to Koirala

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Kathmandu, Jun 17: Amid the 24-hour ultimatum to pull out of the present government in the Himalayan republic, the Maoists have also demanded the resignation of Nepali Congress (NC) leader, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala for paving the way for a CPN (Maoist) led government.

''PM Koirala must step down for us to form the next government. NC is intentionally prolonging the government formation process,'' senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai said yesterday. In a meeting with PM Koirala at his official residence in Baluwatar yesterday, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ''Prachanda'' said, ''Maoists will quit the government if consensus is not reached on formation of the next government under Maoist leadership by this evening. ''We will pull out of the government if Prime Minister Koirala doesn't prepare the environment for us to form the government,'' Dr Bhattarai who accompanied the Maosit Chairman was quoted as saying by Kantipur.

During the meeting, Mr Prachanda said the issues of People's Liberation Army (PLA) management and return of confiscated property should have been settled before the Constituent Assembly (CA) election.

The Maoist Chief reportedly told Mr Koirala that they would not accept any condition before formation of the next government.

''All the issues raised by NC can be dealt with along with the formation of the next government,'' Dr Bhattarai said, adding, ''But the conditions shouldn't obstruct government formation.'' On the question of president of the republic, Mr Prachanda proposed that the president be elected by a majority vote in the CA if consensus is not reached.

''We will never accept Girija Prasad Koirala or Madhav Kumar Nepal as the presidential candidate in the name of power sharing,'' DrBhattarai said, questioning, ''On what basis can they claim the top post?'' He said Maoists, being the largest political party, have a legitimate claim over both the posts -- president and prime minister.

''But we are expressing our generosity by proposing a candidate from a smaller political party for president,'' he said.

PM Koirala reiterated that Maoists should first settle all other issues including management of arms and armies, return of confiscated property and dissolution of the military structure of the YCL before claiming the right to form the next government.

Mr Koirala told the Maoist Chief Prachanda that the people's mandate was for consensual politics.

Mr Koirala's party, NC held an urgent meeting of its senior leaders and the members represented in the three-party joint task team to thrash out a future strategy following the Maoist ultimatum.

In the meeting, the leaders reiterated they could not support Maoists in formation of a new government until the former rebels commit themselves to implementing past agreements.

The leaders also decided to stick to the party's stance despite the Maoist threat to quit the government.

''We are clear that Maoists should form the government as the largest party, but that does not mean they should not abide by any agreementsigned in the past and we should always surrender to their threats,'' said NC spokesperson Arjun Narsing KC, after the meeting.

NC leaders also vowed they would not ask anyone for any post in a future set up, rather they would work to set up a clear system where a political party cannot impose authoritarian rule, and also ensure that agreements and pacts signed for peace are duly enforced.

''We need a clear time-bound commitment on what should be implemented immediately and what should be enforced gradually,'' the NC spokesperson said.

NC leaders presented a list of about 2,100 people whose properties the Maoist continued to how. They also presented reports that showed Maoists had expedited the drive to capture more property in Dang, Nawalparasi and Sunsari districts, among others.

UNI

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