Nepali Congress & CPN-UML strike deal to oust PM ‘Prachanda’; to form new alliance

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Kathmandu :- In a dramatic political development, Nepal’s two largest parties – Nepali Congress and CPN-UML – have inked a midnight power-sharing deal to form a new ‘national consensus government’ to replace the coalition government led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, who on Tuesday refused to resign.

Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) chairman and former prime minister K P Sharma Oli reached an understanding on forming a new coalition on Monday midnight, according to former foreign minister Narayan Prakash Saud.

Deuba, 78 and Oli, 72, agreed to share the Prime Ministerial position on a rotation basis for the rest of the term of the Parliament, said Saud, who is also a Nepali Congress central member.

Nepali Congress, the largest party in the House of Representatives (HoR), has 89 seats at present, while CPN-UML has 78 seats. The combined strength of the two large parties is 167, which is sufficient for a majority of 138 seats in the 275-member HoR.

The two leaders also met on Saturday to lay the ground for a potential new political alliance between the two parties, following which Oli’s CPN-UML ended its association with the Prachanda-led government barely four months after extending support to it.

Embattled Prime Minister Prachanda has decided not to resign from the post despite the agreement between the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

In a meeting of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) office-bearers held in Baluwatar, Prachanda said he would rather face a vote of confidence in Parliament than resign from the post, the party Secretary Ganesh Shah told.

 

Nepal has had 13 governments in the last 16 years, indicating the fragile nature of the Himalayan nation’s political system.

Under the agreement that is likely to be finalised on Tuesday, the CPN-UML chief Oli will lead the government in the first phase of the remaining term of Parliament.

The two leaders have agreed to share the premiership for one and a half years, turn by turn, Saud said.

The two leaders tentatively agreed to form a new government, amend the Constitution, and work out a power-sharing formula, which they reportedly shared with a few confidants, media reports said, quoting multiple senior leaders from both parties.

The ministers belonging to the CPN-UML in the Prachanda-led Cabinet are likely to resign en-mass in the afternoon, sources close to the CPN-UML said.

CPN-UML secretary Shanker Pokharel has told media persons that an agreement was reached with the Nepali Congress to form a national government led by Oli, a former prime minister.

The new government will be formed to maintain political stability in the country and make necessary amendments to the Constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ravi Lamichhane accused the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML of forming the new alliance after the Prachanda-led coalition government started opening the files of corruption cases involving political leaders.

“The new alliance is aimed at protecting corrupt leaders rather than protecting the Constitution and maintaining political stability, as claimed by some leaders,” said Lamichhane, who is also the president of Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP), during a press meet in Kathmandu.

He said the RSP, a key ruling coalition partner of the Prachanda-led coalition, will not join the new alliance of the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

“We will neither resign from the coalition government nor join the new alliance,” Lamichhane said.

According to the agreement, the CPN-UML will lead provincial governments in Koshi, Lumbini and Karnali provinces, and the Nepali Congress will lead the provincial governments of Bagmati, Gandaki and Sudurpaschim provinces.

Oli and Deuba have also agreed to involve Madhes-based parties in leading Madhesh Province and have committed to constitutional amendments.

The draft agreement was prepared by a four-member task force, The Kathmandu Post newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, the talks between Prime Minister Prachanda and CPN-UML chief Oli to save the current coalition also failed, according to Maoist sources.

Quoting Prachanda, CPM-Maoist Centre Secretary Ganesh Shah said that a conspiracy has been hatched to topple the coalition government and create instability in the country.

As per the constitutional provision, the prime minister will have 30 days to seek a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives, which would give Prachanda some time for political manoeuvring.

Worried by the closed-door meeting between Deuba and Oli, Prachanda had gone to meet Oli to assure that the government is serious about addressing issues raised by CPN-UML, including its concern about the new budget, observers said.

During their meeting on Monday morning, Oli reportedly requested Prachanda to support him by stepping down, the report said.

Prachanda offered Oli the post of prime minister within the current ruling coalition, which the latter turned down, expressing his desire to lead a consensus government, a CPN-UML leader was quoted as saying.