Nepal PM to form new consensus government

AP News
Posted: May 02, 2012 11:54 PM
Nepal PM to form new consensus government

In a last-ditch effort to finish years of work on Nepal's new constitution, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will dissolve his Cabinet and form a new coalition government that includes members of the main opposition parties, an aide said Thursday.

Bhattarai's press adviser Ram Rijan Yadav said the prime minister will hold talks with leaders of the main political parties later on Thursday to finalize the agreement before making the formal announcement.

The two main opposition parties _ Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal United Marxist Leninist _ negotiated with Bhattarai late Wednesday and confirmed that they would join his new government.

The agreement, once reached, is expected to help ease political confusion in the Himalayan nation, where the Constituent Assembly elected in 2008 has until May 27 to finalize the new constitution. The assembly, elected to a two-year tenure, has been repeatedly extended, but the Supreme Court has ruled that no more extensions are possible.

"It is necessary to form the national consensus government to finish the new constitution, complete the peace process and successfully pass the transitional phase. That is why we decided to get together in the new government," said Ishwar Pokhrel of Communist Party of Nepal United Marxist Leninist.

Bhattarai, deputy leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), had formed the government last year with the support of smaller political parties in Parliament.

It is yet unclear whether a coalition government will be able to finalize the constitution by the deadline. The main sticking points include the number of federal states that Nepal would have and who would be the executive head of the country.

The debate has at times become violent. In the southern town of Janakpur, a bomb killed four people Monday at a rally where protesters were demanding a separate state.

The new constitution was a key part of the peace process that began in 2006 after the Maoist rebels gave up their armed revolt and joined mainstream politics.