Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nepali parties reach consensus on statute amendment, army merger

KATHMANDU, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Nepal's three largest political parties Thursday reached consensus on army integration and amendment to the Interim Constitution, but their differences over power sharing remain.

According to local leading news website Nepal, the agreement was reached at a meeting of top leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M), Nepali Congress (NC) and The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML), held at Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's official residence in Baluwatar Thursday morning.

The proposed amendment to the Interim Constitution will allow a government to be formed (or dismantled) with simple majority as against the previous two thirds majority provision required for it, and it is likely to be tabled at the Constituent Assembly meeting on Friday.

The three parties had already agreed to form a special committee to prepare a framework for integrating Nepal Army and the People's Liberation Army, CPN-M armed force, during their meeting on Wednesday and finalized the deal in Thursday's meeting.

As per the agreement, individual members of the CPN-M's PLA will be inducted into the Nepal Army after they go through standard competition while others will be given choices like vocational training and foreign employment.

Senior CPN-M leader Ram Bahadur Thapa confirmed that the three parties have reached an understanding on these issues and that there will be further consultation and negotiation on power sharing, return of confiscated property including other issues during the seven-party meeting scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the three parties are still divided over the issue of power sharing with the Nepali Congress still sticking with its proposal to make Girija Prasad Koirala as the first president of republican Nepal.

Sources said that CPN-M, the single largest party in the Constituent Assembly (CA), is ready to back Sahana Pradhan, minister of foreign affairs from CPN-UML, as presidential candidate and is set to seek support from other parties for her candidacy.

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