Nepal's ex-rebels agree to join new government

AP News
Posted: Mar 03, 2011 1:27 AM
Nepal's ex-rebels agree to join new government

Nepal's former communist rebels have decided to join the new government formed last month, saving it from collapse, officials said Thursday.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) backed Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal when he was elected by parliament, but refused to join his minority government after they were not given key Cabinet positions, including the powerful Home Ministry.

The former rebels now form the largest group in parliament, but Khanal's party said they could not be trusted with control of the police force and local administrations.

After weeks of negotiations, the Maoists' standing committee decided late Wednesday to join the government, spokesman Dinanath Sharma said. The names of the party's Cabinet ministers would be announced later Thursday, he said.

Khanal needs to form a coalition government because no party holds more than 50 percent of the seats in parliament.

Parliament elected him prime minister on Feb. 3 after 16 failed votes over seven months. The previous government bowed to pressure from the Maoists and resigned in June 2010.

Khanal's election was expected to break the country's long political deadlock and help bring back stability. However, the disagreement between his Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) and the Maoists has prolonged the political crisis.

The government is supposed to write a new constitution by a May deadline and also complete the peace process that brought the Maoists into mainstream politics.