Prachanda-Bhattarai rift prolongs Nepal crisis

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
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  • Updated: Dec 21, 2012 16:03 IST

Fresh differences between Nepal's ruling Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai is prolonging the political and constitutional crisis in the country.

While Prachanda wants Bhattarai to quit and make way for a 'unity' government comprising all parties, the latter, who happens to be the party vice-chairman, is refusing to budge.

This latest stalemate is obstructing formation of the unity government headed by another party - a step which could end the seven-month old crisis and lead to parliamentary elections in May next year.

Opposition parties especially Nepali Congress, which is likely to head the next government, are also at loss on whether the rift is genuine or another ploy to prolong Maoists stay in power.

"Prachanda's failure to take Bhattarai into confidence on the issue of his (Bhattarai's) exit is the reason for the rift," said Lok Raj Baral, former Nepali Ambassador to India.

Since dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in May both Prachanda and Bhattarai have shifted stances several times and made fresh demands - one reason why the crisis has prolonged.

Prachanda, who had indicated his party's willingness to join a government headed by Nepali Congress, now expresses inability to convince Bhattarai to relinquish his seat.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister who has been reiterating his willingness to make sacrifices has put forth a new condition asking opposition parties to join his government for a brief period.

Besides turning his government into a united one, Bhattarai maintains that such a move is necessary to amend the interim constitution to hold elections, make key appointments to constitutional bodies.

"Bhattarai's fresh condition can be interpreted as just another of his ploys to stick to power," 'Republica', one of Nepal's prominent English dailies, wrote in its editorial on Wednesday.

In the meantime another deadline given by President Ram Baran Yadav to parties to select a prime minister through consensus to head the unity government expires on Saturday.


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