Kathmandu: Instead of
stabilising Nepal's turbulent political situation after a
seven-month-long vacuum, the election of a new prime minister has
stirred up further turmoil amid reports about a secret pact
between the ruling party and the former Maoist insurgents.
Jhala Nath Khanal, chairman of the Communist Party of
Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, who was admitted oath of office
Sunday as the new prime minister but failed to swear in a cabinet
due to power-sharing disputes with his new ally, the Maoists,
faces another controversy now.
The 61-year-old former school teacher, who has already antagonised
his own party and other major parties by striking a secret pact
with the Maoists before last week's prime ministerial election to
gain their support, had also pledged to step down by May 24, a
"Both Khanal and Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda realise
that they will not be able to promulgate a new constitution by May
28," the Arthik Abhiyan, Nepal's financial times, said in a
front-page report Monday.
"Since they can't implement the new constitution, Khanal will
resign as prime minister on May 24," the daily said quoting
unnamed political sources. "The leaders agreed that after Khanal
quits, Dahal will become the new PM with the support of the
"That is why they signed a secret pact agreeing that the
government will be led by turns."
Monday's report follows the damaging revelation soon after
Khanal's election that he inked a damaging seven-point agreement
with the Maoists without the knowledge of his own party.
The clandestine pact pledges that the Khanal government will form
a new security body comprising either the guerrilla army of the
Maoists or the guerrillas and an equal number of state security
It also says the government will be led by rotation by the
communists and the Maoists.
The agreement is already under fire from the communists' earlier
ruling partner, the Nepali Congress, as well as all other major
parties, who said they would not allow the Maoist army to be
inducted en masse.
The fate of nearly 20,000 fighters of the Maoists' People's
Liberation Army has been a major stumbling block in the formation
of a new government and new constitution.
All other parties, even Khanal's own, have opposed the bulk
induction of the PLA in the state security forces, saying the
fighters will be taken individually and that too if they met the
With fears remaining about the loyalty of the PLA, the other
parties believe a separate PLA force will support the Maoists and
lead to fresh violence in the days to come.
Assuming power amidst allegations of double-cross and
horse-trading, Khanal faces a rocky way ahead.
The formation of a new cabinet has already run into a fierce fight
with the Maoists staking claim to the key ministry of home affairs
and threatening not to join the government without it.
Khanal had to be sworn in alone Sunday after talks with the
Maoists broke down over power-sharing.
Now, in another blow to the new government's image even before it
started functioning, it was revealed that two of the three
ministers are leaders who lost the 2008 elections.
Khanal has chosen Bharat Mohan Adhikari, a former deputy PM and
brother of Nepal's first elected communist PM Man Mohan Adhikari,
as his finance minister.
However, Adhikari had lost from Morang in eastern Nepal during the
historic constituent assembly election in 2008; so had Gangalal
Tuladhar, chosen to be the education minister.
Tuladhar lost from Dhading, close to the state capital.
The third leader chosen by Khanal - Bishnu Poudel - is a former
power minister whose tenure saw Nepal reeling under 18 hours'
power cuts daily.
From Monday, Nepal faces a 14-hour power outage daily.
Khanal, who had pledged to complete the constitution and the peace
process, had also promised he would appoint competent ministers
who had not been defeated in the elections.