MonitorsPublished on Jul 21, 2008
The political scene in Nepal got even more complex with the Maoists now backtracking on their decision not to take part in the formation of the new government. The Maoists had made a public declaration to keep away from government formation after their presidential
South Asia South Asia Weekly 29

< class="maroontitle">Political situation turns murky

The political scene in Nepal got even more complex with the Maoists now backtracking on their decision not to take part in the formation of the new government. The Maoists had made a public declaration to keep away from government formation after their presidential candidate lost to the candidate put up by the new alliance formed by Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal-UML and Madhesi Janaadhkiar Forum (MJF). The loss was unexpected and the Maoists, riding high on the electoral victory, were deeply upset over the results, and even accused `foreign powers` (read India and the US) for their loss. The new alliance, with the presidential victory in their kitty, made no bones about their determination to stake claim for the government. To be fair, the new alliance members were quite keen, at least in the initial stages, to work with the Maoists in forming the government. Some of the leaders had even approached the Maoists with the proposal. The alliance, however, gave up the idea and decided to go on their own, leaving the Maoists flummoxed once again. The Maoists, not interested in letting go of the political opportunity, have decided now to call an all-party meeting to form another alliance to make a competitive bid.  The Maoists have also put up three conditions for their support first,  the new alliance should be broken; a Common Minimum Programme should be forged reflecting the Maoists' manifesto and the parties should guarantee at leat a two-year term for the new government or till the new Constitution is drafted. The new alliance partners are already busy in identifying their prime ministerial candidates. NC has already floated Koirala’s name as the new Prime Minister.

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">LTTE ceasefire

LTTE’s call for a unilateral ceasefire has met with skepticism from the Sri Lankan government and the international community. The ceasefire comes in the wake of the forthcoming SAARC summit scheduled to held in Colombo from 27th July-3rd August. LTTE has the habit of making such announcements when it is militarily weakened or diplomatically isolated. But a recent interview of its political chief B. Nadesan where he threatened to show LTTE’s real strength is an indicative of the group’s refusal to accept the reversal of fortunes in the recent times.

< class="maroontitle">Voter list completed

The caretaker government completed the preparation of the voters’ list, a significant step towards holding the elections scheduled for December. The voters’ list was one of the major demands of the political parties. The new list has 80,500,723 voters with their names and finger prints. This mammoth work was completed in 11 months, approved in August 2007 and completed on July 9, 2008.  The project received assistance from many international organizations like UNDP, DFID, European Union and countries Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark. Bangladesh army actively participated in the implementation of the project.  The political parties were however not satisfied with the work and criticised the government for holding the Upazila elections before the parliamentary elections.

< class="maroontitle">Opposition protests ratification delay

The National Unity Alliance protested against the presidential delays in ratification of the Constitution. Although Maldivian Information Minister Mohammed Nasheed had put the ratification date as 30th July in his blog, there is no official word. The delay has undermined the power of Gayoom and is bound to boost the Opposition alliance which, of late, had lost its sheen to the inter- and intra-party squabbles. The week also saw the increase in the number of the alliance partners from five to six. The latest to join bandwagon is Maldivian National Congress (MNC).

< class="maroontitle">Blame game

The Gillani government celebrated its 100 days amidst gloom and despair. There is no respite from the terrorist threat in the west. The eastern border with India is once again witnessing sporadic skirmishes. There is intense pressure to rein in ISI and the Taliban supporters in the Army. India has accused ISI of carrying out the suicide attack on its embassy in Kabul. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has added weight to the Indian charge. The Taliban leaders ruling the roost in Waziristan and other areas in FATA are issuing daily threats to the elected government in North West Frontier Province. The flour crisis is acute, so is the power shortage, and Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani, who made his first broadcast to the nation, had no suggestions to overcome the crises. He, however, squarely blame the Musharraf government for the economic and security challenges facing Pakistan. The decision to bring ISI under the Interior Ministry and the hasty retraction has only added to the woes of the Gillani government.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                 – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee – Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       – Nepal, Bhutan
      • Wilson John                    – Pakistan


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