Nepal to get new government today?
Mar 16, 2007 - 12:29:24 PM

Kathmandu, March 16 - The top leaders of Nepal's major parties began frantic consultations Friday amid speculation that a new mini-interim government will be announced during the day.

The anticipation that a new government, with the Maoists as partners, could be announced Friday began mounting after Maoist spokesman and newly-named legislator Krishna Bahadur Mahara announced Thursday that the rebels had reached an understanding with the ruling seven-party alliance.

Earlier, Shekhar Koirala, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's nephew and an influential leader of his Nepali Congress party, was reported as saying that his party, the Maoists and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist -, the three biggest groups in parliament, had agreed to share power.

Koirala was reported as saying that each party would get five ministries in the new government.

Former deputy prime minister and UML leader Bharat Mohan Adhikari was also reported as saying that an initial cabinet of 27 ministers would be announced.

Prime Minister Koirala is expected to lead the new cabinet that will have the key mandate of holding elections by June to choose a special assembly.

The special assembly, at its first meeting, will take a historic decision - whether Nepal should stay a kingdom or axe its 238-year-old monarchy to become a republic.

Though the international community, especially the US, have been urging the government not to include the Maoists in the government till the rebels lock up all their arms, apparently an understanding has been reached between the guerrillas and the seven-party alliance to go ahead even though a large cache of rebel arms and soldiers still remain outside barracks.

The Maoists, tacitly admitting they still have arms and soldiers outside the barracks in violation of a pact signed with the government, say they are ready to remain outside the government but the interim government should be formed soon.

Otherwise, they have warned, elections would not be held by June, in which case they would start an unarmed but powerful pro-republic campaign.

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