Addressing Parliament for the first time after taking office, Nepal's Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal said his government would deploy all its strength and resources to complete the twin objectives of finishing the peace process and writing the Constitution.
“Institutionalising the achievements of the 2006 People's Movement will be our main goal. I urge all other political parties, including the Nepali Congress, to join this government and make it a truly national unity government,” said Mr. Khanal.
Allaying fears that the understanding between the Unified communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) would lead to polarisation, he said, “Democracy has a strong left component, and the left has a strong democratic commitment in Nepal. At this time of historic transition, there has to be continued co-operation among all the forces which brought in the change.”
Before the speech, the Prime Minister swore in three Ministers — all from UML. Despite intense negotiations until Thursday morning, the Maoists and the UML were not able to come to an agreement on portfolio allocation and the interpretation of a seven-point deal signed between the two party chairpersons before Mr. Khanal's election. Earlier in the week, the UML standing committee criticised Mr. Khanal for signing the deal without consulting them, and objected to provision regarding the “formation of a separate Maoist force, or a mixed force with Maoists and personnel of other security organs” as a violation of the peace agreement. UML leaders, from the K P Oli and Madhav Nepal factions, have also objected to a clause regarding “rotational leadership of government” between the two parties, and use of terms like “inclusive people's democracy', “strengthening national independence” as “typical Maoist political jargon”. The UML also refused to give the Home Ministry to the Maoists, on the ground that it is a “sensitive security related portfolio”.
The Maoists have objected to what they see as the UML's efforts to change the terms of the deal. “There are attempts to unilaterally redefine or step back from the seven point agreement, which provides the basis for taking forward the peace and constitution process. If they do not implement the agreement, we will stay out of government,” Maoist politburo member Janardhan Sharma ‘Prabhakar' told The Hindu. Political sources however say the Maoist decision is not yet final, and further negotiations could lead to a power-sharing pact.