As Nepal's Constituent Assembly remains deadlocked, an Indian envoy will try his hand at consensus building...
4 August 2010
Shyam Saran being sent as special envoy to Nepal
New Delhi: In an effort to end the stalemate in Nepal over the election of a new prime minister, India is sending its former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, as special envoy to Kathmandu on Wednesday with a mandate to engage all political parties, including the Maoists, and help build a consensus on the formation of a government that can take the peace process and the task of Constitution writing to a conclusion by next year's new deadline.
Mr. Saran served earlier as the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu and played a key role within the Indian establishment in backing the 12-point understanding among the Maoists, the Nepali Congress and the Unified Marxists-Leninists. That alliance, which eventually led to the end of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic, came under strain before — and especially after — the 2008 elections to the Constituent Assembly in which the former rebels led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda' emerged as the single largest party.
Mr. Prachanda, who was subsequently sworn in as the first elected Prime Minister of the republic, resigned in 2009 following a stand-off with the Nepal Army in which the NC and the UML, as well as India, sided with the generals. UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal then became the Prime Minister. Following his resignation on June 30, 2010, the CA has been unable to elect a new leader, with both Mr. Prachanda, and the NC candidate, Ram Chandra Poudel, failing to win a simple majority in the 601-member House despite repeated balloting. The UML and the Madhesi parties have so far abstained, though there are indications that the largest of the Madhesi groups may be inclined to back the Maoists.
Sources say Mr. Saran's role will be to consult with the Maoists and the two smaller national parties, as well as with the various Madhesi factions. The decision to form a government will have to be taken by the Nepali parties themselves but New Delhi feels it can no longer afford to remain completely aloof from the process.