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Nepal standoff over secret power deal continues

Three weeks since it ‘helped’ end Nepal’s seven month old political stalemate, the secret deal for power, inked by chiefs of the two ruling parties continues to pose problems.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2011 16:58 IST
Utpal Parashar

Three weeks since it ‘helped’ end Nepal’s seven month old political stalemate, the secret deal for power, inked by chiefs of the two ruling parties continues to pose problems.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and Maoists are still engaged in a tussle over its implementation and wording, leaving Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal in a bind.

The seven point deal with Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachaanda’ helped CPN (UML) chief Khanal become Prime Minister on February 3.

On Tuesday, the CPN (UML) central committee approved the deal, with riders on contentious issues, like formation of a separate security force comprising Maoist combatants and heading the government on rotational basis.

Though the Maoists welcomed the move initially, the party took a different stance on Wednesday asking CPN (UML) to take a clear stand on the Khanal-Prachanda deal and abide by its “main spirit”.

Following a meeting between both parties on Wednesday, Maoist vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha informed that the party will discuss the issue and take an official stance on Thursday.

Prime Minister Khanal is facing severe criticism from some party colleagues, including predecessor Madhav Kumar Nepal who are opposing most points in the deal.

There is also a tug of war between both parties over the Home ministry. Some CPN (UML) leaders feel that Maoists shouldn’t be given that ministry till they dissociate themselves completely from former combatants.

Though this issue is not part of the seven point agreement, Maoists say that Khanal had agreed to give this important ministry to them in return for supporting him to become the Prime Minister.

Khanal and Prachanda issued a ‘revised’ version of the deal some days back to allay fears of ‘polarization of leftist forces’ and violation of the 2006 peace deal. But differences remain.

Uncertainty over whether Maoists would join the government has also prevented Khanal from expanding his cabinet. He is still working with just three ministers from his own party.