UML and Maoist Centre set for final unity deal

  • Leaders say Oli and Dahal are ready for joint leadership; may share prime ministerial post
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Feb 13, 2018-

After more than four-month long efforts that started well before last year’s elections, the two left parties are close to striking a deal on party unification, a move that comes days before the possible formation of the new government. 

On October 3, the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) made a suprise announcement of formation of the left alliance, which they said would contest the election together. They also agreed on possible merger of the parties. 

After the left swept the polls in December, unification talks slowed down by doubts and Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s suspicion that his own ambition for party leadership and government could fade in UML’s resurgence.  

The two parties’ unification was on hold after UML Chairman Oli was reluctant to hand over the reins of the unified outfit to Dahal, while he would lead the government. 

However, after intense pressure from the party leaders and Dahal’s statement on Sunday that he could “make a leap forward for the interest of the country”, warning 

perhaps that he could leave the left alliance altogether, Oli hinted that top leaders of his party, including former prime ministers Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, were ready to share power with Dahal—both as PM and party chair on a rotational basis. 

But during a marathon one-on-one meeting held at Manbhawan-based residence of a businessman, the two top leaders agreed on joint leadership, with both Oli and Dahal becoming the co-chair of the new party. 

“The two leaders have agreed to move ahead with both of them leading the party as co-chairman,” said former home minister and Maoist Centre leader Janardan Sharma. Sharma, an architect of the left alliance, said the two leaders would also list the responsibilities of the two co-chairs to clear any confusion.

Maoist Centre leaders claimed the two parties would strike a new deal where Oli would become the prime minister and Maoist Centre Chair Dahal would lead the unified outfit. 

Citing that the Maoist Centre would lose its higher negotiating ground after the formation of the government, it is mounting pressure on the UML to codify the modality for the unification before the new government takes office.

“The two top leaders have agreed to share power both in the government and the party, but they are yet to give final touches to the power-sharing modality,” said Maoist leader Ganga Dahal, who is close to Dahal.

UML leader Jhala Nath Khanal said the two parties were yet to finalise whether the two leaders would go for a joint leadership.  

“But the two leaders would certainly share the premiership, though the issue might not be revealed during the announcement of the party unity,” said a UML leader. Oli and Dahal will hold talks again on Tuesday to finalise the power-sharing deal, party leaders said.

A meeting of the Party Unity Co-ordination Committee (PUCC), scheduled for Wednesday, is expected to make the merger official. The two parties are planning to announce the merger deal before they move ahead for the government formation, possibly later this week.

“Leader Oli will become prime minister within this week,” said UML Vice-chairman Bhim Rawal.

Addresing a function on Monday, Rawal hinted that there was “inherent gentleman’s agreement on sharing power within the seven-point pact that we revealed” on October 3.

Bamdev Gautam, one of the architects of the party unity, said the two leaders would come up with a final deal on Tuesday.

All the existing party structures would then be dissolved and an interim national convention organising committee would be formed once the merger plan is put in place.

Published: 13-02-2018 07:42

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