KATHMANDU, Aug 21 � Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav gave the deadlocked political parties three more days to form a national unity government so as to avoid a constitutional crisis after they failed to meet a deadline set for today.
�In response to the written request made by all political parties, the president extended the deadline to form a national consensus government till Wednesday 5 pm, after it expired on Sunday evening,� said Rajendra Dahal, the press advisor to the president.
Nepal�s two largest parties � UCPN-Maoist and the main opposition Nepali Congress - have held several rounds of consultations with other parties for a national government, but have failed to end the constitutional crisis in the country.
Maoist vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai, Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala, caretaker Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and Vijaya Gachhadar, the leader of the Joint Democratic Madhesi Front, met the president to seek more time for consultations to form a national unity government.
Hours ahead of the expiry of the August 21 deadline set by President Yadav, political parties agreed to seek more time after a series of bilateral and multilateral talks between the three main political parties � UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML- and Joint Democratic Madhesi Front failed to bear any fruit.
President Yadav, during a meeting with the caretaker Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal yesterday, voiced concern over the development, including the delay in the constitution-drafting process.
�The President asked the caretaker Prime Minister regarding the progress in the peace process, constitution- drafting and government formation,� Dahal said.
Senior leaders of the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, and UCPN (Maoist) separately met today to discuss issues relating to the 2006 peace process, constitution drafting and national consensus government.
�During the meetings, the leaders held discussion on ways to forge consensus on the crucial issues of peace process and unity government,� according to CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal.
He said the leaders discussed the modality of integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants.
Integrating the 19,000 former Maoist guerrilla forces into the national army is one of the key sticking points in the stalled peace process, with military leaders and the Nepali Congress resisting the move.
Maoists� Prime Ministerial candidate Bhattarai and Nepali Congress candidate Sher Bahadur Deuba have also held talks with the CPN-UML, the third largest party and Terai-based Joint Democratic Madhesi Front (JDMF), a group of five Madhesi parties.
The Maoist have claimed the right to lead the government first as it was the largest party. Nepali Congress has underlined the need to form a government under its leadership as both the Maoist party and the CPN-UML have already led a coalition after the Constituent Assembly elections held in 2008.
No party holds a majority of seats in parliament. The UCPN-Maoist, which has 238 seats in the Constituent Assembly, is largest party in the Assembly, which acts as the country�s interim Parliament. The second largest Nepali Congress has 114 members in the House followed by CPN-UML, which has 108 members.
The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), which has over 60 lawmakers in Nepal�s 601-member Constituent Assembly, can play crucial role in forming the government.
CPN-UML leader Khanal, who was elected Nepal Prime Minster on February 3 after 17 rounds of polls in Parliament, quit amid intense pressure from the Maoists and the Nepali Congress for failure to push forward the 2006 peace process.
Khanal today underlined the need for all parties to move ahead by forging a national consensus in order to conclude the peace process and to draft a new constitution for the country.
The caretaker prime minister said he had tendered his resignation as per the five-point deal to facilitate for formation of a national consensus government, not to form another majority government.
The parliament, which was formed in 2008 after a popular election, has failed to fulfill its main function to draft a new constitution though its term was extended twice, the latest on May 29 which is set expire at the end this month. PTI