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Tough road ahead for Nepal

Nepal heaved a sigh of relief at 1:25 am on Saturday when the country’s leaders temporarily buried their differences and amended the interim constitution to give a one-year breather to the constituent assembly.
By Utpal Parashar | Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON MAY 30, 2010 12:15 AM IST

Nepal heaved a sigh of relief at 1:25 am on Saturday when the country’s leaders temporarily buried their differences and amended the interim constitution to give a one-year breather to the constituent assembly.

The extension prevented a constitutional crisis and gave lawmakers 12 more months to prepare the new constitution.

But the road ahead for the Himalayan nation is tough and fraught with problems.

Formation of the next government as part of the deal reached on Friday night would be the biggest bone of contention among parties.

There is also doubt on when Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will resign.

Sources say that he will leave his post within five days. Once that happens there would be hectic lobbying over the next few weeks both within the major parties and among them to grab the prime minister’s post.

“As the biggest party, Maoists would want to head the government. But since UCPN (Maoist) chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ is not acceptable to most parties, his deputy Baburam Bhattarai could get the post,” said political commentator Prashant Jha.

Nepali Congress too wants to head the next government and Ram Chandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba are the front-runners from this camp. Chairman of CPN (UML) Jhalanath Khanal is also in the reckoning.

Once the government is formed, parties would have to get busy with the task of constitution drafting and completing the peace process that started in 2006 at the end of the civil war. This too won’t be a cakewalk.

Integration of nearly 15,000 former rebels into security forces, return of property seized by Maoists and restructuring the para-military structure of the Maoist youth wing would pose problems.

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