UML-Maoist merger talks start today

Published On: December 22, 2017 05:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 22: The CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) are to begin formal negotiations aimed at merging the two leftist parties on Friday, cross-party leaders said, in an indication that the unification would be concluded before government formation. 
Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha on Thursday said that a coordination committee of top leaders from the two parties is scheduled to meet Friday to hash out plan for the merger.
The coordination committee comprises UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Maoist Center leaders Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal and Shresha, and UML leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalnath Khanal, Bam Dev Gautam.
Shrestha said that the meeting would set out clear outline for merger while discussing key issues like leadership, organization and ideology.
The two parties, which jointly won landslide in the polls held on November 26 and December 7, are holding parallel negotiations to strike a deal on power-sharing ahead of the government formation.
On the eve of the merger talks Thursday, senior leaders of UML and Maoist Center held separate meetings to finalize the agendas for the formal negotiations. The UML's standing committee meeting, which started at Guatam's home in Bhainsepati on Thursday, has been extended to Friday morning.
Even as leaders from both the parties claim that the merger would conclude before the government formation, the unification is likely to take at least some months, or even years, due to daunting task of resolving the leadership and organizational issues. 

While Oli and Dahal are expected to rotate the premiership and possibly the party leadership, it is still unclear how other senior leaders would be accommodated in the merged party. Some leaders from both the parties including UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel and Maoist leaders like Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Janardan Sharma and Matrika Yadav have cautioned their party leadership against going for merger without finalizing who will head the new party.
Pokharel, who has been widely seen as possible successor to Oli in the party, has said that Oli should lead both the government and the party after the merger. 

Talking to Republica earlier this week, Maoist Center spokesperson Pampha Bhusal said that her party, in principle, was not against single leadership but there could be possible rethink on the party's stance depending on how talks progress. 

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