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Nepal in search of consensus Govt

world Updated: May 11, 2009 23:53 IST

Nepal’s political parties were close to agreeing on a new ruling coalition, moving a step forward in forming a new government after the abrupt withdrawal of the Himalayan country’s communists.

The Himalayan nation was thrust into political crisis last week when Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned and pulled his Community Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the government in a dispute over integrating former communist rebels into the military.

The country’s second- and third-largest parties, Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), were within days of reaching an agreement with smaller parties to form a government, Ram Sharan Mahat of the Nepali Congress said.

The alliance needs support from most of the smaller groups to secure a majority in the 601-seat parliament.

Leaders representing the three smaller groups said they would reach a decision soon.

Any coalition that excludes the Maoists would likely have difficulty maintaining stability.

The Maoists — the country’s largest party, consisting of former Maoist rebels — have warned they will seek to block parliament from functioning until the government meets their demand to fire the army chief.

The Maoist rebels laid down their arms three years ago to start a peace process in Nepal.

Dahal — the former rebel leader — accused the country’s army chief or reneging on an agreement to integrat the rebels into the army, as required under the peace process that brought the Maoists into the political fold.

Dahal resigned to protest President Ram Baran Yadav’s refusal to fire the army chief.

Maoist protestors clash with police

Police in Nepal used batons on hundreds of Maoist protestors rallying in Kathmandu in support of their party leader Prachanda.

Riot police moved in after the group of about 400 protestors tried to march towards the office of the president, a police officer at the scene, Ganga Budathoki, told AFP.

Police used batons to force back protestors after they tried to break through a security cordon, the officer said.