Sunday, August 10, 2008

Defence Portfolio sticking point for formation of New Government

The meeting of the senior leaders of Nepali Congress (NC) and Maoists could not reach to any fruition, Sunday evening, after both sides stuck to their guns.

Both the parties have been staking claim to the Defense portfolio in the new government.
Emerging from the meeting, Maoist chairman Prachanda' told reporters that the NC was making unnecessary demand.

"Since all the political parties represented at the cabinet will be included in the National Defense Council, there is no rationale for demanding Defense portfolio," he said.

Prachanda added that out of three 'key' portfolios – Home, Defense and Finance – his party was willing to 'sacrifice' one. Since the Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) has staked a claim to Home portfolio, the parties' efforts to close the power-sharing deal has been disrupted.

NC vice president and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel, however, sang a different tune.

"The NC has been handling the security and defense related portfolio since the start of the peace process. And till the process reaches the logical conclusion, NC should be heading defense portfolio," Poudel told reporters.

The NC leaders have said that since Maoists still lead their own army, they should not be allowed to lead the state army.

Meanwhile, after the meeting between the leaders of UML and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum
(MJF), in the afternoon, the leaders of both parties have advised NC and Maoists to demonstrate flexibility on the issue of allocating defense portfolio.

"We have asked them not to make it an issue," said UML leader Iswor Pokharel.
MJF coordinator Upendra Yadav also advised the two parties to settle the matter. "It should be settled by keeping in mind the need to form government of national understanding," he said

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