Nepali Maoists offer compromise
Nepal's Maoists yesterday offered to reverse a decision to boycott forming a government in a compromise that could steer the newly republican country out of a new political crisis.
The former rebels, who won the most seats in recent elections to a constitutional assembly but not a majority, had said they will not form a government because their choice of president was rejected by rival lawmakers.
The presidency is a largely ceremonial position but the Maoists -- who ended a decade of civil war to enter mainstream politics -- say having a rival in that position would paralyse their government and ambitious reform agenda.
But Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara offered a compromise to the impasse, which has left Nepal without a government.
"Our party has put forward three conditions to lead the government," Mahara told AFP.
"One of the conditions is we want a written commitment from the other political parties that they will not be involved in the forming and ousting of the government once we lead the government, for at least two years," he said.
The other conditions were that rival parties agree to allow the Maoists to push through a "minimum programme," and that the three main rival parties dissolve their alliance.
The former rebels, who fought an insurgency for 10 years, want to overturn what they view as a wider, "feudal" caste-ridden system, and have vowed to bring revolutionary land reforms in the Himalayan nation.
"We will be happy to remain in opposition and play a constructive role in drafting of the constitution if our conditions are not met," said Mahara.
A leader from Nepali Congress said there was little chance of agreeing to all the conditions.
"We have begun discussions with other parties to look into the Maoists' proposal but we are less hopeful," said Minendra Risal, a senior Nepali Congress party official.
"We are always ready to move forward with politics of consensus. The Maoists tried to go alone, tried to dictate to other parties and they suffered defeat in the presidential vote," the Congress official said.
The Maoists' continued involvement in mainstream politics is seen as crucial to the survival of the peace process. They are also the only party with enough seats to form a stable government.
But Risal said that "just being the largest party in the assembly doesn't mean that they can have everything their way. They (the Maoists) have to follow a democratic process and accept the existence of other parties."
"Rather than putting forth various demands, they should gather support from other parties if they are to lead the government," he said.
Nepal has been in political limbo since May 28, when the constitutional assembly abolished the 240-year-old monarchy and declared a republic.