Women on warpath over delay in forming Nepal government
Apr 1, 2007 - 11:49:42 AM

Kathmandu, April 1 - Angry women from various organisations gathered in front of Nepal Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's residence Sunday, shouting slogans and warning that they would begin a protest movement if a veteran woman politician was not given her dues.

The groups began their demonstration even as senior politicians began arriving at Koirala's official residence in the capital's upmarket Baluwatar area to make a final effort to resolve disputes and announce a new government before the premier left for New Delhi to attend the SAARC summit.

The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist - Saturday proposed the name of veteran leader Sahana Pradhan as the new foreign minister. She was also the senior-most minister in an interim government in 1990.

However, Koirala has proposed one of his trusted aides and former deputy prime minister Ram Chandra Poudel for the post, a move to ensure his Nepali Congress party's control over the new government.

The UML resisted Koirala strongly Saturday, saying in that case it would stay away from the government. Finally, the parties decided to hold yet another meeting Sunday in a bid to find a solution.

Outrage mounted among organisations fighting for women's rights in Nepal after the seven-party ruling alliance and the Maoists failed to announce a new government Saturday even after nearly three months of haggling over ministries.

Though scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Sunday, the crucial meeting was delayed by over two hours, casting doubts on whether the new government would be sworn in Sunday.

Koirala is scheduled to leave for New Delhi in the afternoon to attend the 14th SAARC Summit. If the disputes are not sorted out before that, the new government would be delayed by yet another week till he returns.

The three junior partners in the government - Nepal Sadbhavana Party -, United Left Front and People's Front - are also at loggerheads with the big parties over the distribution of ministries.

Deputy prime minister Amik Sherchan, who heads People's Front, told the media Saturday that there was no consensus even on the allocation of portfolios.

The parties have been rapidly losing face and stature, both at home and before the international community, with their constant bickering for power.

Though the new government is expected to last only till June when an election will be held, politicians have yet not reached an understanding, even after three months of cutthroat negotiations.

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