Nepal's political parties failed to make any progress in setting up a national government as a key meeting of the three main parties did not take place amid deepening differences between them.
A crucial meeting of the three major parties -- main Opposition UCPN-Maoist, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), the key alliance partners in the caretaker government-- to discuss the formation of a consensus government was postponed after CPN-UML president Jhalanah Khanal expressed his inability to attend the meeting.
The deadlocked parties are struggling to meet an extended July 12 deadline set by President Ram Baran Yadav to suggest a name for the post of the Prime Minister based on consensus. Nepalese parties failed to meet an earlier July 7 deadline after prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal quit on June 30 following months of protests by the former rebels.
Instead of attending the three party meeting, Khanal went to a gathering to mourn the death of a local party leader, who was allegedly killed by the Maoists on Thursday. Chhabi Lal Karki, a district-level leader of the CPN-UML, was allegedly killed during a Maoist attack in Okhaldhunga district in eastern Nepal.
The CPN-UML has decided to organise a nationwide protest to expose the brutal activities of the Maoists, who have been accused by the other parties of indulging in violent activities and intimidation. The police have arrested three suspects in connection with the murder of Karki. The Maoists have denied any link to the killing of the UML leader.
The Maoists, who ended their decade-long civil war in 2006, are under pressure from Nepali Congress and CPN-UML to dissolve the paramilitary organisation of its youth wing, the Young Communist League, return seized property and to finalise the numbers and the timeframe for the integration of its former combatants with the security forces.
The Maoists and the CPN-UML are deadlocked over the issue of leadership of a new coalition. The former have claimed the right to head a new government as it is largest party in parliament with nearly 40 percent of the seats. However, senior leaders in the Nepali Congress, then second largest party in the House, have also staked its claim to lead a new government, leading to a political deadlock in the country.