Crucial power sharing talks in Nepal

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Kathmandu, Jun 18: After narrowing down their differences on the issues of amendment to the constitution and integration of the armies yesterday, three political parties of Nepal -- CPN(Maoist), CPN-UML and Nepali Congress (NC) -- will continue to talk today on the contentious issue of ''power-sharing'' to break the political stalemate in the Himalayan republic.

''We have almost reached consensus on the issues of amendment to the constitution and integration of the armies. We will seek agreement on the issue of power-sharing tomorrow but we will pull out of the government if consensus is not reached by tomorrow evening,'' senior Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai, who was present at the meeting of the three parties held at Prime Minister and NC President Girija Prasad Koirala's official residence in Baluwatar here, said yesterday.

''The meeting agreed to form a high-level committee of all political parties to work out a framework for integration of the two armies-- Nepali Army (NA) and Maoist's People's Liberation Army (PLA),'' he was quoted as saying by Kantipur. ''The integration process will be complete in six months,'' he added.

On the issue of returning seized property, Dr Bhattarai said, ''We have already agreed to return the property and the government should enforce the agreement,'' he said, adding, ''If the current government can't enforce it, the next government will do so.'' During the meeting, the Maoists agreed to vacate captured buildings and dismantle the semi-military structure of its youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL), in 15 days.

However, the meeting couldn't reach consensus on the composition of the security council and the process of PLA integration.

Dr Bhattarai said the meeting couldn't reach consensus on the presidential candidate. ''Since we are not in favour of creating two parallel power centres, we have proposed the name of Mr Ram Raja Prasad Singh for president,'' Dr Bhattarai said, adding, ''But we are still asking the NC and UML to seek a consensual candidate.'' NC leader Minendra Rijal, who was present during the meeting yesterday, said, ''The parties will focus the consultations on power-sharing tomorrow.'' ''The Maoists sounded more flexible on the issue of power-sharing but they didn't clearly say who will be the next president,'' he added.

''There are a few differences on amendment of the constitution and integration of armies. We want to deal with all the issues of power-sharing in a political package,'' he said.

The meeting has directed the three-party task force to prepare a final draft if the agreement and differences over all three issues and present it at tomorrow's high-level meeting.

Yesterday, a meeting of the Maoist secretariat decided to propose Mr Prasad Singh, president of Janabadi Ganatantra Nepal as the president of the new republic.

The meeting had held the NC responsible for the current political stalemate and rejected all conditions before the formation of the next government.


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