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Head of state crossed the line, says UCPN (M)

KATHMANDU, NOV 23 - The UCPN (Maoist) on Friday objected to a statement issued by the President’s Office that gave the parties a week’s deadline to find a prime ministerial candidate. Coalition partners in the government said discussions are on to respond to the President’s move.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s aides and leaders close to Party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the head of state overstepped his constitutional limits in giving the political parties a deadline.

Prime Minister’s Personal Secretary Ganga Narayan Shrestha said the President bypassed the council of ministers and directly reached out to the parties, a move he said was against the Interim Constitution 2007. “In the absence of a legislative body, any step from the President should be approved by the Cabinet,” said Shrestha.

A leader close to Dahal said the party chairman has concluded that though the step is unconstitutional, the party would take it positively if it is aimed at seeking consensus among the parties.  Leaders said the party and the government will not criticise the President for the move. They, however, said the  party will hit the streets if the President appoints a new PM on a

majority basis. Maoist leader Haribol Gajurel said the President’s move is objectionable and unconstitutional. “The President has no authority to set a deadline for the political parties,” he said.   

Party leaders said they will adopt “maximum flexibility” while seeking consensus on unity government that will hold fresh elections. Maoist leaders said the party will float at least four options before key political stakeholders for the formation of a unity government. One of the options they said was reshuffling of the Cabinet and formation of a new

one under incumbent Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai. Dahal has said that some “powerful ministries” could be given to the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, according to the leaders. Another option they party may float is formation of a high-level political mechanism consisting of NC President Sushil Koirala, UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahanta Thakur and Dahal himself.

Dahal has proposed Koirala lead the mechanism that would “give directions” to the government, while Bhattarai himself would lead the government.

The third option, leaders said, is choosing another candidate from within the coalition to replace Bhattarai. Maoist leaders said Mahanta Thakur could be one such candidate. The fourth option the leaders said is to go for a neutral non-party candidate. However, sources close to Dahal said the last option floated by Dahal is simply to “save the Constituent Assembly agenda” and is not a priority.

The formation of a national unity government has been a major bone of contention among the parties following the dissolution of the CA on May 27. Maoist leaders privy to negotiations say Dahal is willing to ask PM Bhattarai to step down, but is worried about the complexities that would arise after that.

“If it is certain that CA elections will be held in Baishak (April-May), we are ready to go for any alternative,” said Maoist leader Gajurel.

Posted on: 2012-11-24 08:41

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