Nepal leaders get six more days to ink unity deal
KATHMANDU (AFP): Nepal’s president on Friday gave rival political parties a second extension to a deadline for forming a national unity government to lead the Himalayan nation into elections next year.
The decision came after leaders of all the main parties had failed to strike a deal on the political make-up of a proposed new cabinet, despite being given an extra seven days after missing the original target.
“Maoist leader Prachanda, who represented the four major parties in a meeting with the president, requested more time to resolve differences,” said Lalit Basnet, a spokesman for President Ram Baran Yadav, using Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s popular nom-de-guerre.
“Therefore the president has extended the deadline for six days.”
Nepal has been run by a caretaker Maoist-led government since the collapse in May of an interim assembly that had failed in its main task of drawing up a new constitution following a 10-year civil war that ended in 2006.
Yadav, whose role as head of state is normally ceremonial, had originally set a November 29 deadline for the parties to agree on the make-up of a unity government to take Nepal into polls for a new parliament set for April or May next year.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai hopes to name a cabinet that includes members of his Maoist party and others from the opposition Nepali Congress and UML as well as smaller regional groups.
Talks have stalled over who should lead the new administration, with the opposition blocs publicly rejecting the idea of a Bhattarai-led national unity government and the premier refusing to step aside.
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