BILASH RAI/KIRAN PANDAY
Two weeks after the declaration of the republic, the debate over who should be the first president is deadlocked. Two months after the elections, the Maoists have still not been able to form a government. On Thursday they resigned from the government to put further pressure on Prime Minister Koirala.
The Maoists had shown flexibility this week by agreeing to a non-political president and a simple majority to form and sack governments, but negotiations got stuck once more on the issue of army integration and on who the president should be. Both sticking points have to do with the military: the army doesn't want to induct ex-guerrillas and it doesn't want a Maoist commander-in-chief.
"It was just a tactic to show they were flexible. Actually the Maoists are as rigid as ever on all points," says Gagan Thapa, an NC assembly member.
The NC and UML see the president's post as not just ceremonial but a way to balance Maoist dominance of the government.
After the three-party task force failed to reach a deal, Prime Minister Koirala and Chairman Dahal met Thursday at Baluwatar to give it another try. But by the afternoon, all seven Maoist ministers had handed their
resignations to Dahal.
"The new government needs to be formed so that it reflects the people's mandate, which is why we have resigned from our ministerial positions," said Minister for Forests and Soil Conservation Matrika Yadav.
The UML and NC insist that integration of Maoist guerrillas into the army should be on the basis of qualification as agreed in the peace accord. The Maoists want all their guerrillas to be integrated into the national army.
A compromise can be reached under which some PLA are taken into the army, while the remainder are recruited into other security apparatus. "If it was only up to us, we could reach an agreement, but there are outside stakeholders exerting pressure," senior Maoist Ram Karki told Nepali Times.