Nepali Congress, the main opposition party, is determined not to allow the Maoists to lead a national unity government in Nepal unless they lay down their arms and agree to rehabilitate and integrate their former combatants with the security forces, a top leader said today.
Ahead of the August 21 deadline set by President Ram Baran Yadav to form a national consensus government, the political parties have intensified talks for a new coalition after Prime Minister Jhala Nath quit for failing to make "concrete" progress in the 2006 peace process.
Nepal's two largest parties -- UCPN-Maoist and Nepali Congress - have held several rounds of consultations to end the constitutional crisis in the country.
Maoists' Prime Ministerial candidate Baburam Bhattarai and Nepali Congress candidate Sher Bahadur Deuba also held talks with the CPN-UML, the third largest party and Terai-based Joint Democratic Madhesi Front (JDMF), a group of five Madhesi parties,
The Nepali Congress has floated the idea of sharing Prime Minister's post on a rotational basis with the Maoists, according to Nepali Congress sources.
However, the Nepali Congress leaders have argued that the Maoists should not be given the leadership of the government unless they lay down their arms and complete the peace process.
Gopal Man Shrestha, member of the powerful central committee of the Nepali Congress, said his party is ready to hand over the post of the Prime Minister to the Maoists six months after the conclusion of the peace process and drafting of the new constitution if the former rebels support a Nepali Congress-led government at the moment.
Integrating the 19,000 former Maoist guerrilla forces into the national army is one of the key sticking points in the stalled peace process, with military leaders and the Nepali Congress resisting the move.
Nepal Parties Deadlocked Over National Unity Govt
Shirish B Pradhan/Kathmandu
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