Nepal witnesses new political crisis, Maoists pull out of govt

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Kathmandu, Jun 21 (UNI) Newly formed republic, Nepal has plunged into yet another political crisis with the Maoists pulling out of the coalition government, blaming Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala for the impeding stalemate in the government formation.

Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ''Prachanda'' announced during the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) meeting yesterday that his party will not stay in the government.

''Yes, our ministers have resigned from their posts. But we are yet to register these formally, senior Maoist leader Mohan Baidya was quoted as saying by Kantipur.

He said the Maoists have politically pulled out of the government and will formalise it tomorrow.

His reaction followed news that the CA meeting was adjourned till Wednesday. The leaders were discussing a consensual proposal, presented by an SPA task force.

The Maoists termed the adjournment a Nepali Congress conspiracy to prolong the negotiation process as NC General Secretary KB Gurung in his capacity as the CA chair had announced the adjournment.

''Although it was agreed in principle among the seven political parties that political consensus would be reached by Sunday evening, we later heard that the Constituent Assembly meeting was adjourned till Wednesday. Then we sensed that NC was conspiring against us,'' Maoist leader Baidya said.

According to CA regulations, the chair announces adjournment of meetings after consulting with the CA Business Advisory Committee comprising representatives of all political parties. UML leader Bhim Rawal said, ''The Chair (Kul Bahadur Gurung) announced the adjournment of the CA meeting, going against the recommendation of the committee.'' He claimed the UML and Maoist members in the committee had recommended adjournment only till Sunday.

NC General Secretary Bimalendra Nidhi said NC leaders, during the meeting, told Maoists not to take the decision of pulling out of the government in haste. ''We also assured them we would find out why the meeting was adjourned till Wednesday,'' Mr Nidhi said, adding, ''We were not aware of the adjournment.'' He said Maoist leaders repeatedly blamed the NC for the adjournment.

''While negotiation was moving toward a positive direction, we were surprised to hear the Maoist insistence on pulling out of the government,'' he added.

He said the Maoist ministers' resignation will further complicate the political situation. ''We had agreed to settle all issues by tomorrow's meeting and the Maoists had also consented. But we were surprised to hear that they later announced a pull out from the government,'' he said.

During the meeting, top SPA leaders began discussion on the consensual proposal presented by the SPA task force. The leaders had reached near-consensus on the issues of amendment to the constitution and implementation of the peace agreement including integration of the two armies-Nepali Army (NA) and Maoist combatants.

''We had already reached consensus on almost all issues except a few concerning integration of armies,'' NC leader Nidhi claimed.

He said the NC wanted to define the term 'standard norm' used in the agreement for management of arms and armies. ''We proposed that Maoist combatants should be integrated according to the standard norms of concerned security units, into which they would be integrated, while Maoists wanted the integration of all combatants,'' he said.

The NC also proposed that the security and constitutional councils should induct opposition leaders as ex-officio member-a proposal the Maoists rejected outright. During the meeting, the NC wanted to clearly define the term ''major political parties'' used in the constitution.

Over the issue of local body formation, all other SPA members including NC, CPN-ML, People's Front Nepal, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party and Nepal Sadbhawana Party proposed that all political parties in the CA should have participation in such bodies while the Maoists and UML said representatives of only major political parties should be there.

As discussion on the consensual proposal was underway, Maoist leaders abruptly announced that they would pull out of the government.

CP Mainali of the CPN-ML , one of the SPA constituents said, ''The Maoists looked impatient from the very beginning of the meeting. They should have continued political consultation, instead of resigning.'' He said there is no alternative to consensus among the three major political parties--CPN(Maoist), NC and UML.

Political parties have failed to strike consensus in governmnet formation even three weeks after the declaration of republic. The landlocked country was declared a republic on May 28, this year by the newly elected lawmakers after the April 10 Constituent Assembly election, formally ending the 239 year-old monarchy.

UNI XC SZ PM1115

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