Maoists, Nepali Congress remains at loggerheads over Defence Ministry

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Kathmandu, August 10 : The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) and Nepali Congress (NC) on Sunday locked horns over their claim for Defence Ministry as hectic parleys continued between the political parties to break the deadlock over the formation of a new government.

The Maoist said that it was ready to give up one of the ministries among the Defence, Finance and Home, while caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's party Nepali Congress has maintained that it will stay in opposition if they were not allocated the Defence Ministry.

In a meeting between the Maoists and Nepali Congress at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction today, the largest and the second largest party in the Constituent Assembly (CA) urged each other to abandon their claim on Defence portfolio.

The refusal of the two biggest parties failed to break the political impasse, adding more confusion to the already-panicky Nepali politics.

"It's not compulsory to claim Defence Ministry, as all the parties representing the cabinet would be incorporated in the National Security Council," Kantipur quoted Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, as saying emerging from the meeting.

He hoped that the parties would reach an agreement and the Nepali Congress would finally rethink their decision.

Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel said it is necessary for his party, as they (NC) had been taking the responsibility of the peace process since the beginning, until the peace process reaches a logical end.

The four largest parties in the Constituent Assembly (CA)--- CPN-M, Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) and Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF)--- had failed to forge a consensus to form a national unity government until Friday, the deadline given by the President, as the Maoist and the Nepali Congress locked horns over power-sharing.

Meanwhile, CPN-UML and MPRF urged the Maoists and the Nepali Congress to show flexibility in the allocation of Defence Ministry in order to form the new government.

A joint meeting of the UML and the MPRF leaders held at the UML's parliamentary party office in Singha Durbar today decided to publicly request the two parties to be flexible to reach an agreement.

The UML has asked the Maoists to reconsider their decision to form a consensus government, saying that failure to do so would put the peace process in jeopardy.

Both the UML and the MPRF have decided to hold separate consultations with the Nepali Congress and the Maoists to continue their efforts to form a consensual government.

The country's politics has been facing a deadlock after the Maoist and the Nepali Congress remained at loggerheads over the Defense Ministry.

Earlier today, the President officially requested the 601-member Constituent Assembly to initiate procedures to elect the Prime Minister through voting.

Article 38 (2) of the Interim Constitution tells that the Prime Minister shall be elected through a majority of two-thirds of the members of the Legislature-Parliament, if consensus cannot be reached.

ANI

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