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China jumps into the fray as Nepali parties jostle to form government

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(, Dec25’22) – As Nepal’s political parties hold hectic parleys with each other for the purpose of forming a coalition government ahead of the Dec 25 evening deadline given by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, China has jumped into the fray. Its Acting Ambassador in Nepal, Wang Xin, has intensified political meetings with Nepal’s left political parties in a bid to exert pressure on them to forge a left unity, reported Dec 23.

The five-party coalition had failed to hammer out a power-sharing deal by Dec 24 night, with less than a day remaining of the deadline given by the president to claim government leadership, reported the Dec 25.

Nepali Congress Party, which won the highest number of seats, has already elected outgoing prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba as its chief and prime ministerial candidate. But his coalition partner, CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, is under pressure from China not to give up his claim to form the government, the report said.

Wang met with Prachanda on Dec 23 and made it clear that China wanted to see him as the prime minister. For this a purpose, he wanted Pranchanda to even leave the coalition and forge a left unity supported by CPN-UML, the most pro-China of communist party with the second highest number of seats, as well as Unified Samajbadi and Janata Samajbadi Party.

In the evening of the same day, Deuba also held talks with Prachanda for around two and a half hours, but they could not come to an agreement. Although the two have agreed to lead the post-election government by turns, each wants to be prime minister in the first half of the five-year term, reported the Dec 24. They had agreed to meet again the next day.

At the same time, as the party with the second largest number of seats in the new parliament, the CPN-UML, led by former Prime Minister KP Oli, which is outside the coalition, has also been making overtures to the coalition members including the Congress and Prachanda’s CPN (Maoist Centre) to strike a power-sharing deal among themselves, the report said.

Dahal himself was also in constant touch with the UML, which had already agreed to support his bid for prime ministership, with the precondition that he break ties with the Congress-led coalition, the report said.

And so, Deuba is said to be under pressure to hand over the government’s helm to Dahal as otherwise the latter may join hands with Oli’s UML with a guarantee to become the prime minister, which would be detrimental to the Congress party’s interest.

Dahal was stated to have vowed not to leave the coalition both before and after the election. The question is, whether the Chinese pressure will prevail on him to break that vow should he fail to get support to become the prime minister for the first half of the term.

A united communist party government forged by China before the current five-party coalition led by prime minister Deuba collapsed despite hectic efforts by China because it proved to be impossible to patch up the differences between the rival factions led by Oli and Prachanda.


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