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SAARC invites Koirala for Colombo meet

As uncertainty still looms large over the formation of Nepal’s new Govt, PM GP Koirala receives an invitation to attend the 15th SAARC Summit, reports Anirban Roy.
Hindustan Times | By Anirban Roy, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON JUL 02, 2008 11:12 PM IST

As uncertainty still looms large over the formation of Nepal’s new government, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Wednesday received an invitation to attend the 15th SAARC Summit to be held in Colombo.

As even after nearly three months of the Constituent Assembly polls, the new government could not be formed in Nepal; Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama handed over the invitation to Koirala.

The 15th SAARC Summit is scheduled to be held on August 2 and 3, which will be attended by heads of eight South Asian nations. The summit cannot be held even if one of them is absent.

Koirala resigned as prime minister on June 26, but is still performing his twin role of head of state and head of government as the first president of Nepal, the republic, is yet to be elected.

PMO officials said Koirala received the SAARC invitation as the new government, which is likely to be led by the Maoists, is yet to take over the reigns of the impoverished country.

The Maoists had emerged as the largest political party in Nepal after the April 10 elections. The former insurgent outfit has 220 members in the 601-member house and the party chief Prachanda is likely to be the new prime minister.

“If the new government is formed before the Colombo summit, the new Prime Minister would attend the SAARC meeting,” a senior official at the PMO said.

The formation of the new government is also uncertain because the political parties are yet to resolve the demand of the three major Terai-based parties to declare the southern plains of Nepal as an autonomous state.

Leaders of the three major political parties met again on Wednesday to resolve the Terai issue, but failed to achieve a breakthrough.

Meanwhile, senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai said the annual budget will be presented by the new government and that his party would push for an amendment in the constitution to incorporate a provision that will allow the government to present the budget after the start of the fiscal year.

“Full-fledged budget should be brought by the new government. Now, a general outline of income and expenditure can be presented,” Bhattarai said at the Maoist headquarters at Buddhanagar in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

The Maoist leader argued that the current caretaker government had no right to prepare the annual budget. The detailed budget could be brought a couple of months after a provisional budget is presented in mid-July.

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