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Breather for Khanal govt in Nepal

world Updated: Aug 01, 2011 00:59 IST
Utpal Parashar

The week-old crisis over the future of the Jhalanath Khanal government in Nepal eased temporarily on Sunday with Maoists, the dominant coalition partner, deciding not to withdraw support.

Terming his talks with the Prime Minister as positive, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda told reporters that his party will not pull the plug from the five month old government as yet.

"The dialogue with the PM regarding swearing-in of ministers from our party was positive," he said. Prachanda and Khanal had a 30-minute meeting at the latter’s official residence on Sunday morning.

Talking to reporters on Sunday evening, Khanal indicated that some Maoist ministers are likely to be sworn in on soon. He, however, stated reshuffling of ministers is the PM’s prerogative.

On July 24, as part of a power sharing deal among senior leaders, the Maoist central committee had recalled most party ministers and submitted a fresh list of 24 names to Khanal.

But the Prime Minister’s refusal to administer oath to the new ministers and insistence on formation of a national consensus government had led the bigger coalition partner to threaten withdrawal of support.

Some Maoist ministers like deputy prime minister and home minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara and information minister Agni Sapkota resigned to put pressure on the Prime Minister.

Unfazed and unwilling to buckle under pressure Khanal stated that he would rather choose to leave his post than induct the new faces.

As the deadlock continued, Prachanda met Khanal on Saturday evening and reiterated the threat to recall all ministers and withdraw support unless new ministers were sworn in on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, Nepali Congress, the main opposition party, continued to obstruct the parliament’s work for the fifth consecutive day on Sunday demanding Khanal’s resignation as part of the May 28 five-point deal.

The three main parties, Maoists, NC and Khanal’s Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) signed the deal to extend Constituent Assembly’s tenure till August 31 to complete the peace and constitution drafting processes and
form a national consensus government.

But with just one month remaining, inter and intra party squabbles among the major parties over power have ensured that both key issues will not get completed within this deadline as well.