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Nepal's Madhesi parties agree on power sharing deal

Nepal's Terai-based Madhesi parties on Friday decided to come together to seek a better deal amid the deadlock over power sharing in a new government.

world Updated: Jul 17, 2010 00:15 IST

Nepal's Terai-based Madhesi parties on Friday decided to come together to seek a better deal amid the deadlock over power sharing in a new government.

Nepal's Terai plains are home to about half of the country's 30 million people, and the residents of the region, are known as Madhesis, who are of Indian origin.

The four Madhesi parties -- Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik (MJFL), Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) and Sadbhawana Party (SP) --today agreed to reactivate their earlier alliance and form a common position during the new government formation.

The Madhesi parties together form the fourth largest block in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, which functions as the interim parliament.

A split in the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum had led to a faction supporting the 22-party ruling alliance led by caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who quit on June 30.

A joint meeting of the four parties agreed on a four-point resolution, including the right to lead a new government if the three major parties-- the main Opposition UCPN-Maoist, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), the key ruling alliance partners -- fail to put together a new government.

"Besides forming an alliance, Madhesi parties decided to remain committed towards statue (Constitution) writing within the scheduled deadline and submission of a common position on new government formation," Rajendra Mahato, the chairman of Sadbhawana Party, which is part of the CPN-UML-led alliance, was quoted as saying by the nepalnews online today.

They also decided to back one to the big three main parties which assures them to respect the sentiments of Madhesi people living in the plains bordering India.

Mahanta Thakur, the chief of the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party, said the Madhesi alliance would lead a new government if the major parties fail to do so. However, he underlined that their pact would always be supportive of one of the big parties if they promise to respect the sentiments of Madhesi people.

The pro-Terai parties argue that people in the Madhesi-dominated southern plains have long been treated as second-class citizens in Nepal, where hill-origin elites dominate politics, the security forces and business. They have demanded greater economic and political rights, including more representation in the state structure.

The Terai-based parties also criticised the decision of the three major parties to form a seven-member State Restructuring Commission (SRC) without consulting them, the report said.

Former Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav and Sharat Singh Bhandari represented MJF and MJFL respectively in today's meeting, it said.

Nepalese lawmakers will elect a new Prime Minister on July 21 following a direction by President Ram Baran Yadav to form a majority government after they failed to reach a consensus on a leader.

After the end the second deadline set by the president to form a consensus government by July 12, political parties are now engaged in hectic consultations to form a majority government.

The Nepal Maoists, who ended their decade-long civil war in 2006, have claimed the leadership of new government as it is largest party in parliament with nearly 40 percent of the seats.

The key alliance partners in the caretaker government, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have ruled out the possibility of forming the next government under the Maoists' leadership as the former rebels have not yet laid down arms, managed their combatants and dissolved their paramilitary organization the Young Communist League.

Nepal's second largest party, Nepali Congress, has stepped up efforts to head a coalition government, though it has failed to agree on a prime ministerial candidate.

The Nepali Congress has argued that it is now their turn to lead a government after the Maoists and the CPN-UML failed to conclude the peace process and frame a new constitution by the stipulated deadline of May 28.

The party decided to initiate dialogue with other political parties in order to garner their support for setting up a new government.