No progress in left unity talks as deadline looms

Published On: April 18, 2018 06:00 AM NPT By: Roshan Sedhai

KATHMANDU, April 18: Talks between leaders of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) on Tuesday failed to make headway as deadlock continues over the latter's demand for a dignified merger.
The meeting of Party Unification Coordination Committee held at prime minister's residence in Baluwatar on Tuesday morning was expected to endorse two documents pertaining to ideology and organization of the proposed Communist Party of Nepal. 

But the talks ended inconclusively after leaders from the two sides struggled to break the ice on two keys issues of organization and ideology. 

At the heart of contention was Maoist Center's demand for equal representation in the unified party and formal recognition of "people's war" in the party statute.

Maoist Center has made equal representation of both parties one major precondition for merger. During a meeting, CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that both the parties should have dignified status in the unified party, calling for equitable representation both at the leadership level and further down.

Like Oli, (he) Dahal agreed to unify the party so that he can lead a strong party and ascend to power.  The unification won't take place unless the terms and conditions gaurantee that he will get what he wants.  -- A Maoist leader close to Dahal. 

UML interlocutors have offered to give 30 percent share to the Maoist Center in the executive committees including the central committee even as chairmen of both the parties would jointly lead the party. The party appears reluctant to make "honorable mention of people's war" in the party statute.
During Tuesday's meeting, Maoist leaders had expressed concerns over Prime Minister Oli's unilateral decision to transfer government secretaries and bring the National Investigation Department under his office, adding that such activities would hamper the unification efforts.
Maoist Chair Dahal asked Oli whether the former would have equal powers in the new party.
Maoist Center leaders said that Dahal also wants an unequivocal commitment from Oli to lead the party by turns. However, the issue was not raised at Tuesday's meeting.
"Like Oli, (he) Dahal agreed to unify the party so that he can lead a strong party and ascend to power.  The unification won't take place unless the terms and conditions guarantee that he will get what he wants," said a Maoist leader close to Dahal. 

Prior to forming an electoral alliance, Oli and Dahal had agreed to lead the unified party by turns but Oli has refused to make any concrete commitment on the issue after the elections.
Maoist leaders said the talks ended without bearing fruit because of the UML's failure to bring something new on the table. Talking to media after the meeting, UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel said that the meeting assigned the two chairmen to resolve the remaining differences. Though he did not divulge in detail the differences, Pokharel said that there was no dispute over the election symbol.

Following the meeting, Maoist Center leaders said that the planned unification between their party and the CPN-UML could be delayed by a few weeks, or even a few months, due to widening distrust between the two sides. Last month, the party had announced to unify the two parties on April 22 coinciding with the birth anniversary of Lenin.
"It was the plan (to merger the parties on April 22). But we are short of time to resolve the existing differences," said Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa told media after the meeting.  

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