Bickering leaders drive Nepal to brink of disaster
KATHMANDU: Even with just 72 hours remaining between the country and disaster, Nepal’s bickering politicians failed to rise above self interests on Tuesday, pushing the fledgling republic further on the brink of disaster.
The two major ruling parties and the main opposition, the Maoists, held yet another meeting in a series of interminable negotiations that have continued almost for two years and have consistently failed to see any progress. While the Maoists stuck to their demand that Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal should resign first, the premier continued to parry the attack, secure in the support shown by its ruling ally, the Nepali Congress, and the Indian government.
While the wrangling has been holding parliament and the country hostage, the government incredibly continued making grandiose plans for future, including announcing an award to honour the Buddha when the cards predicted the dissolution of the government from Friday midnight. A new constitution was to have come into effect on that day. However, since the major parties, deadlocked in a one-track dispute for power, failed the deadline, parliament and with it the government stands to be dissolved once the deadline expires.
Though the ruling coalition has tabled a proposal in parliament to extend the deadline and on Tuesday asked lawmakers to vote for it, it is clear the motion will fail unless the Maoists support it since they are the largest party with nearly 40 percent seats in the 601-member parliament. The former guerrillas have already tabled a veto on the government’s extension proposal and a battle is imminent on the floor of the house.
The government’s strategy seems to be to prolong the dispute till Friday midnight and then declare a state of emergency and President’s rule, a dire constitutional provision available in case the country is facing civil war or a calamity. Nepal met the President, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, on Tuesday. Yadav, who played a decisive role n Nepal’s politics last year by causing the fall of the Maoist government could yet again take centre-stage from Friday midnight.
Uncertainty and fear gripped Nepal with conjectures about military rule and the possible snapping of the peace accord. While the moderate Maoist leaders have been saying their protests would be peaceful, the hawks in the party have been advocating a return to the armed revolution. With nearly 20,000 trained combatants at their disposal, the former guerrillas who fought a 10-year war are still feared for the damage they might inflict if pushed to the brink.
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