Nepali Congress may support Khanal-led govt: Top leader

Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, Feb 11 (PTI) Nepali Congress, the mainopposition party in Nepal, today said that it may support thenew Communist-led government amid the power sharing row withits main ally Maoists, who have refused to join thegovernment.

Nepali Congress said it my hold up the government incase the Maoists backtracked from its decision to support thegovernment led by the new Nepal Prime Minister JhalanathKhanal.

Bhishma Raj, the central committee member of NepaliCongress, said his party will play the role of a responsibleparty by saving the Khanal-led government from being toppled.

"The Nepali Congress will take an appropriate decisionfor peace and constitution building by playing the role of aresponsible party by remaining in the opposition,� he said inthe capital today.

60-year-old Khanal was elected the prime minister bythe Constituent Assembly after 17 rounds of election lastweek.

However, the two main allies - CPN-UML and the Maoists- have failed to arrive at an understanding over thedistribution of portfolios. UCPN-Maoist, the largest party inthe House is demanding important portfolios, including thehome ministry.

The Maoists have decided not to join the cabinet astheir demand for the important home ministry portfolio was notfulfilled.

Raj said the "secret" pact between Prachanda andKhanal would lead to the betrayal of the country rather thanresolving the current political impasse.

Meanwhile, Maoist General Secretary C.P. Gajurel saidtoday that his party would not join the government unless thePrime minister guarantees to implement the seven-point deal.

He said the foundation of the present governmentwill collapse if the pact is not implemented in letter andspirit.

He said the Maoists have been demanding 15 cabinetposts, including the key Home Ministry, in proportion to itsseats in the Parliament.

The Maoists standing committee meeting today decidednot to participate in the government unless the pact is fullyimplemented.

The "secret" pact includes provisions such as sharingPrime Ministerial post between Khanal and Prachanda onrotational basis and forming separate unit in Nepal Army afterthe integration of the former Maoist combatants with themilitary.

The political deadlock over the last seven months hasdelayed the framing of a new constitution and stalled the 2006peace process.

The Maoists, who led a decade-long insurgency beforejoining mainstream politics in 2006 and emerging as thelargest single party in 2008, had pushed for leading a newcoalition.

However, the former rebels failed to garner a majorityin Parliament to form a coalition government.

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