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Publication Date : 11-02-2013
Now that the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)'s seventh General Convention is over, its leaders have once again decided to resume negotiations regarding a change in government that will pave the way to elections. This time, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has proposed that the parties appoint the chief justice as prime minister to head the election government. The other parties have reacted with some skepticism at Dahal's proposal. Some leaders of the opposition - Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML) - have rejected the proposal outright. Some others have been more circumspect and claim that they are still studying the proposal. Non-Maoist leaders especially don't like the manner in which the proposal was made public: instead of taking opposition leaders into confidence, Dahal chose to inform a mass party gathering to reveal such a crucial inter-party issue. And there are those who are perpetually suspicious of the Maoist leader. They feel that the new proposal is meant only to sow confusion within the opposition while the Maoists continue to stay put in office.
There may be some truth to some of these suspicions, given Chairman Dahal's perpetual flip-flops. Still, the opposition parties would be wise not to simply reject any proposal that comes from the Maoists. They should take it as an opening through which a new power-sharing arrangement can be negotiated and elections held. For it is clear by now that the political deadlock that has ensued since the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the body that was tasked to and failed in writing up a new constitution, eight months ago, has not benefited them. As a result, the Maoists have remained in office and opposition parties left out in the cold.
There are some basic facts that have come to light in the previous months. First, neither the Maoists and the Madhesis on one hand, nor the Nepali Congress and the UML on the other, are willing to accept a prime minister from the other side. It was because of this that the idea of an independent candidate came forth. But each side's independent candidate was unacceptable to the other. Dahal now claims that his new idea of appointing the Chief Justice is meant to break this impasse, though he made yet another somersault recently by insisting that he neither officially proposed nor endorsed the idea of a government led by the chief justice. Given that the window for May elections is fast closing, President Ram Baran Yadav has rightly asked the warring parties to find common ground within the next couple of days. Now it's up to the parties - both Maoist-Madhesi and NC-UML - to demonstrate both consistency and flexibility to make May elections possible.