Thursday, August 14, 2008

FACT: Prachanda, the leader of Nepal's Maoist party, has filed his candidacy for the office of Prime Minister. The election is Friday.

FACT: The Maoists, and their People' Liberation Army, led a campaign of armed struggle for over a decade which led to the abolishment of Nepal's 240 year old monarchy this year.

FACT: The Maoist Party is now a political force after winning over one-third of the seats in the Consituent Assembly elections this past April.

FACT: As the leading party, the Maoists are responsible for leading the new government and the effort to draft Nepal's new Constitution.

FACT: The Maoists were shut out of the posts of President and Vice-President after failing to gain the support of the other parties.

Those are the facts. What's the buzz?

The Maoists have learned their earlier lessons and have forged an alliance with Nepal's third biggest party -- the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) -- meaning Prachanda has an excellent shot at winning the post.

With 298 votes needed to elect the prime minister by simple majority, the Maoists have 227 , while the UML has 108. Combined, they ensure the election of Prachanda. The only opposition will come from Nepal's oldest and second biggest party, the Nepali Congress. Congress, led by the current prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala, will field a candidate on Friday and will not participate in the new government if they are defeated, their spokesman said. They have promised to sit on the opposition benches yet play a constructive role so that the peace process remains on track.

The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have demanded Maoist Chief Prachanda's resignation as head of the rebel guerrilla army as a pre-condition for their support. They assert that the Nepali Congress should be given control over the country's defenses if the Maoists want to win the election. CPN-UML leaders warn that if the Maoists do not return the seized property and dissolve the semi-military structure of its Young Communist League (YCL) within a specified time frame, his party may withdraw support to the government.

Urging the Nepali Congress to join the Maoist-led government, the CPN-UML will make efforts until the last moment to form a government with national consensus. However, the government formation is not expected to be delayed further regardless of Nepali Congress joining the government.

This time, my money is on Prachanda.


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