A fortnight after his election as Nepal’s 34th prime minister, Jhalanath Khanal is still performing a tightrope walk to save his government and party from falling apart.
After retracting its earlier stance and agreeing to join the government, Maoists did another volte face on Thursday by deciding to stay out of Khanal’s cabinet and support him from outside.
Now the 60-year-old is bogged down by pressure from Maoists and detractors within Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) opposed to his secret deal with Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The Maoists U-turn came after Khanal’s party, refused to hand over the home ministry to the coalition partner as part of Khanal-Dahal deal.
There is fear that Maoists who are yet to give up control of the 19,000-strong Peoples’ Liberation Army could use the ministry to withdraw cases of rights abuse against cadres.