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Nepal Maoists to stay in opposition

Posted on Jan 26 2014 | IANS

Kathmandu, Jan 26 : The UCPN-Maoist, the third largest party in Nepal's Constituent Assembly, Sunday said it will stay in the opposition but will help the other parties in the constitution drafting process.

The Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) are the largest and second largest parties, respectively.

Addressing the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly at the International Convention Centre here Sunday, Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UPCN-Maoist), announced that his party will not join the government.

Prachanda, however, said his party would assist the other parties in drafting a new constitution.

The largest party in the 2008 elections, the Maoist party emerged as a dominant political force in Nepal but could not hold on to its premier status. In elections Nov 19 last year to constitute the second Constituent Assembly, the Maoists came a distant third.

"Our priority is not the government and who will be the next president of Nepal. We will sit in the opposition and will extend creative help to the Congress and CPN-UML in drafting the constitution," Prachanda said.

He, however, warned the others not to consider them as a small party "because we are part of Nepal's ongoing peace process and I am a signatory to that peace accord".

The accord signed in 2006 between the government and the Maoists had paved the way for a political transformation in Nepal. Under the accord, Nepal has held elections to the Constituent Assembly twice, but the larger agenda of framing the constitution still remains unfulfilled.

"It would be a blunder if the Maoist party is treated as a minor party," Prachanda warned.

Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala, widely seen as the country's future prime minister, said the country needs a consensual government to forge political understanding which will assist in the constitution-drafting process.

"Almost 80 percent of the constitution-drafting process is complete," Koirala said.

The first constituent assembly was dissolved in 2012 after it failed to come to an agreement on federal states and the form of government.

CPN-UML chairman Jhalanath Khanal said Nepal needs a stable and strong government, and also demanded local elections that have not taken place in 16 years.

Top Madhesi leader Upendra Yadav, also a former deputy prime minister, gave a speech in Hindi and spoke of the achievements made during the tenure of the last constituent assembly (2008-2012).

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