M A I N   N E W S

Koirala to head new govt
*Celebrations on streets  *Maoists reject offer

Shirish B. Pradhan

Girija Prasad Koirala
Girija Prasad Koirala

Kathmandu, April 25
Nepal’s opposition parties today named veteran politician Girija Prasad Koirala to head a new government, but divisions appeared in the pro-democracy movement, with Maoists rejecting restoration of the 2002 Parliament and vowing to continue their blockade of the capital.

After 19 days of agitation, jubilant Nepalese poured on to the streets to celebrate the King’s proclamation late last night, waving party and national flags.

Shouting victory, they also raised anti-King slogans.

Taxis were back on streets, shops were opened and mobile services were restored.

However, riot police remained present on the roads.

Leaders of the seven-party alliance decided at a meeting to name 81-year-old Koirala, who had served thrice as Prime Minister, to head the new government.

They also decided to call off the stir that had nearly paralysed life in Nepal.

“The meeting has decided to form a new government headed by Nepali Congress President and top opposition leader Girija Prasad Koirala”, said Nepali Congress central member Arjun Narsingh KC.

Not happy with the alliance’s decision, the Maoists, who had supported the uprising against the King, vowed to continue their blockade of the capital and all district headquarters until their key demand for a constituent assembly was met.

CPN (M) leader Prachanda said in a statement that the King’s move was a new ploy to break Nepalese people and save his autocratic monarchy.

“By accepting the so-called royal proclamation, the leader of the seven political parties have once again made a blunder”, the statement said.

The alliance said it would call the Maoists for dialogue once the session of reinstated Parliament was summoned.

“The new government will declare a ceasefire, invite the Maoists for dialogue and withdraw their terrorist tag and red-corner notice once Parliament is reconvened on Friday”, Nepali Congress General Secretary Ramchandra Poudel said.

The government would also ask the Maoists to declare a ceasefire, he said, adding that the process of holding the constituent assembly elections would start once Parliament session began.

The Maoist statement, which was also signed by senior CPN (M) politburo member Baburam Bhattarai, said, “We want to make it clear that the seven-party alliance, those parties who have welcomed and supported the King’s address, have broken the 12-point understanding (reached with Maoists last November) and have breached the aspirations of the Nepalese people”.

Calling on people from all walks of life to continue the peaceful movement, the Maoists announced countrywide mobilisation and rallies, action against those who suppressed the movement and economic blockade of Kathmandu and all district headquarters.

They flayed the parties for accepting the restoration of Parliament without consulting them, but expressed commitment to the 12-point agreement.

Senior CPN (UML) politburo member Amrit Bohara said the Maoists’ reaction was natural and hoped that everything would be settled through dialogue.

He said the alliance had agreed to implement the roadmap in which the Maoists’ demand was also incorporated.

Madhav Kumar Nepal of the CPN (UML) said the formation of a new government would be the first step towards a constituent assembly, which would be tasked with redrawing the constitution.

Narsingh also said the alliance decided to implement its roadmap to restore full democracy and ultimately hold the constituent assembly elections to resolve the crisis.

“The new government will move ahead as per the roadmap of the seven-party alliance and resolve the political crisis, including the Maoists’ problem”, he said. — PTI


India welcomes King’s move
Satish Misra
Tribune news service

Berlin, April 25
National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan late last night rubbished observations made by certain quarters that Nepal King Gyanendra’s announcement to revive Parliament was “too little, too late” and expressed happiness at the development.

He observed that the King had finally seen the errors in his ways and hoped that an interim government would be in place in the Himalayan kingdom in a day or two.

He said though the King had not specified under what rule he had revived Parliament, the first reaction of political parties in Nepal was positive.

There would be celebrations and political parties would announce their reaction to the King’s announcement tomorrow, he added. He hoped that all necessary steps had been taken by Nepal for the restoration of multi-party democracy.

Mr Narayanan, who spoke to mediapersons here soon after the monarch made the announcement at a televised address, expressed confidence that political parties of the country will accept it. “Finally, perhaps the King has seen the errors of his ways because he has already gone on air to announce his willingness to restore Parliament,” he remarked.

He, however, pointed out that the King had not specified under what provision he would restore Parliament. “There was a great deal of confabulation before that (King’s decision). There was a lot of talking by the Indian side and lot of others. I think all necessary steps have been taken,” Mr Narayanan said.

He said political parties in Nepal had more or less indicated that they would accept the King’s decision.

New Delhi: A formal statement put out by India today welcomed the restoration of multi-party democracy in Nepal but failed to make any reference to the future role of the King, thus indicating a shift in New Delhi’s long-held “twin pillar” theory which has favoured the co-existence of the monarchy and political parties.

A special meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA), called by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to take stock of the developments in Nepal, maintained that the revival of Parliament and the installation of a new government was a victory for the people of Nepal.

India also offered unstinted support to the people of Nepal, stating that it has always stood by them in their struggle for the restoration of their democratic rights. The statement was, however, silent about the King’s role in the new dispensation. This appears to be a conscious decision as India would not like to say anything which could give the impression that it supports the monarch.

“We await the convening of the revived House of Representatives and the installation of the new government as indicated by the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA),” the statement added.

Speaking to media persons after the CCPA meeting, Mr Mukherjee refused to comment on this key omission. He was also unwilling to say anything on the resumption of arms supplies to Nepal. “Let the new government be formed. Let there be peace, prosperity and development first,” he stated, adding that a decision on this could be taken only if the new government makes such a request.

However official sources maintained that India is preparing an economic package to help revive Nepal’s economy even as Kathmandu named veteran leader G.P. Koirala as its next Prime Minister and began preparations for the installation of a new government.

New Delhi believes that the economic situation poses the biggest challenge and is waiting to move in with its offer of financial assistance once the new government is in place.

India is now making all-out efforts to reach out to the SPA, which had spearheaded the pro-democracy campaign, to correct the widely-held impression that New Delhi was supporting the monarchy. This was particularly so after India welcomed the King’s first offer to transfer power to political parties, which was subsequently rejected by the SPA. India immediately became suspect in the eyes of the the pro-democracy groups, who felt that New Delhi was trying to drive a wedge between the political parties and the Maoists. India was forced to issue a clarification, reiterating its support for the democratic aspirations of the people of Nepal.


Vajpayee, Rajnath hail Koirala as PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
The BJP today welcomed the decision by the pro-democracy seven-party alliance in Nepal to nominate Nepali Congress leader Girija Prasad Koirala as Prime Minister even as the party took strong exception to the "ad hoc response" by the Indian government to the situation in the neighbouring hill nation.

Party stalwart and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BJP President Rajnath Singh in separate letters to Mr Koirala welcomed the move.

While Mr Vajpayee was the first to react soon after the announcement was made and shot off a letter addressing Mr Koirala as "Prime Minister of Nepal", the party president hailed the decision expressing the hope that the democracy in the Himalayan Kingdom would function effectively braving "all the challenges posed by the Maoist elements."

Mr Vajpayee said the seven party alliance had a historic role to play in building "a new Nepal which was on the crossroads and take a fundamental shift from its past and maintain a sense of continuity under the experienced leadership of Mr Koirala for achieving a lasting peace and stability for a prosperous future."

Former Union Minister and party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad referring to the statement of former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh criticising the government led by his own party for "masterly inaction" in Nepal, said he could only comment that India's response was "ad hoc and shifting."

"The response (of the Congress-led UPA Government) stemmed from its reluctance to view the problem and the challenges posed to Indian security concerns. The people of Nepal are sovereign to decide their own course but we believe that India should view the problem keeping its own security perceptions in mind.

"The Maoist elements in Nepal were not ready to confine their activities within their territory but wanted to establish a red-corridor in alliance with Naxals active in India," he said.

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