KATHMANDU, Feb 28: A meeting of top CPN-UML leaders on Wednesday decided to go ahead with the process of forming an election government under the leadership of the chief justice, in the face of deepening intra-party differences over the matter.
A standing committee meeting of the party took the decision even as the party´s top leaders as well as central committee members are sharply divided over the matter.
"The meeting has decided to take the ongoing process to an appropriate conclusion," CPN-UML Secretary Bishnu Paudel told Republica. "This is an unanimous decision."
The decision of the meeting was keenly awaited as former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who was absent from previous meetings of the standing committee and central committee, had stirred up the intra-party dispute over the matter after he arrived back from a visit to France last week.
While UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel and Secretaries Shankar Pokharel and Yubaraj Gyawali strongly objected to the decision to form the CJ-led election government, Nepal´s arrival had further stirred up divisions. The party leadership stood in favor of the CJ-led government despite the fact that an absolute majority of the central committee members had vehemently opposed the proposal, which was floated by ruling UCPN (Maoist) leaders.
Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, KP Sharma Oli, Bamdev Gautam, Bidya Bhandari and Bishnu Paudel lobbied in favor of the proposal.
Sources said that during the standing committee meeting the dissident leaders had strongly lobbied in favor of making the chief justice resign from that post after he is appointed prime minister and administered the oath of office and secrecy.
"It is due to the objection by the leaders that they are still using ambiguous wording," said a party leader preferring anonymity. The meeting´s formal decision said the party would initiate moves to take the ongoing process [of forming a new government] to "an appropriate conclusion".
The opposing leaders fiercely criticized the proposal, saying the idea was pushed by UCPN (Maoist) leaders with a plan to drag the Supreme Court into controversy and tarnish the image of the judiciary.
The central committee meeting had earlier mandated the party leadership to take an "appropriate decision with regard to forming a new government" without however making any compromises over separation of powers among the three branches of the state -- legislative, executive and judiciary, while also maintaining judicial independence and not weakening the role of the political parties.