Parties yet to sit for talks as three days of five-day deadline passes
KATHMANDU, Jan 2: The opposition parties, which have put forth Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai´s resignation as their first condition for a consensus appear less optimistic that negotiations would help resolve the deadlock after Prime Minister Bhattarai allegedly thwarted the deal reached some two weeks ago.
While UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the chief negotiator representing the ruling parties, left for Bangkok on Monday for the medical treatment of his wife, negotiators from the opposition parties including the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are not sure when the next round of talks would be held as three days of the five-day deadline issued by the president have already passed.
Senior leaders from the opposition parties said any talks would be meaningless as long as the prime minister continues to show his ´childish stubbornness´ and stick to the chair. "We had almost reached a package deal during our negotiations with Dahal. But as Prime Minister Bhattarai refused outright to step down, the deal was aborted halfway. It appears that protests would be the only way to oust Bhattarai," argued a senior NC leader, asking to be unnamed.
Opposition party leaders believe that even Maoist Chairman Dahal is helpless before Prime Minister Bhattarai, who reportedly said that he was ready to face bullets than to step down. "Pushpa Kamal Dahal now has to tell either he was helpless before Prime Minister Bhattarai or announce that whatever decisions Bhattarai takes are the official decisions of his party," said senior UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal venting his frustration Tuesday. "We will think about some other alternatives once he [Dahal] does that."
Addressing a function jointly organized by Sanchar Foundation, Green Foundation, Rautahat Guthi and Himalayan Trust in the capital, former Prime Minister Nepal, who is also the key negotiator in the inter-party talks said protests would be the only alternative if Prime Minister Bhattarai continues to remain adamant in his stance. "Dahal has gone to Bangkok when the country is in such a critical situation. I hope he did not do this to escape [humiliating situation]," he said.
President Ram Baran Yadav had extended the deadline yet again for five days on Saturday. Asked if they had lost hope to resolve the deadlock through negotiation, one of the talks team member from NC, Dr Minendra Rijal, said, "Though we are gradually losing our patience, we still have some hope to resolve the deadlock through talks."
He, however, added that opposition parties, who had earlier put off their protest hoping that consensus would be reached, will be forced to adopt other alternatives if the prime minister showed no sign of compromise. "The prime minister is in no mood to quit power and his adamant stance scuttled the deal," he said, adding, "Of course, we cannot afford to remain mute spectators for long."