Nepal parties meet but fail to reach agreement

AP News
Posted: Aug 18, 2011 7:42 AM
Nepal parties meet but fail to reach agreement

Leaders of Nepal's two largest parties met Thursday but failed to reach agreement on who should lead the next government, officials said.

Leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and Nepali Congress met for the first time Thursday since Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal resigned over the weekend, plunging the country back into a political crisis.

The parties remained far apart in the talks, with both insisting they should lead the new coalition government, officials said.

No party holds a majority of seats in the national assembly, which is needed to form a government.

Narayankaji Shrestha, a senior Maoist leader, said his party should head the government because it has the most seats in the assembly and is a key part of the country's peace process.

Krishna Prasad Sitaula of Nepali Congress said it was their turn to take over the leadership because they had not headed the previous coalitions.

The two parties are also negotiating with smaller parties in hopes of gaining their support.

Khanal resigned Sunday after failing to make progress in adopting a new constitution during his six months in office. It took 17 votes in the assembly over seven months to get him elected in February.

Khanal, who was chosen in an attempt to break the country's political deadlock, faced demands that he step down from Nepali Congress, which accused him of failing to move the peace process forward.

Maoist guerrillas gave up their armed revolt in 2006 to join mainstream politics, but thousands of former fighters still live in camps and their future is yet to be determined. Khanal had promised he would resolve the issue.