KATHMANDU, Jan 15: Negotiations between UML and CPN (Maoist Center) to strike a power sharing deal for key constitutional positions have failed to gain expected success after the former staked claim to the post of President and Speaker of the federal parliament.
Buoyed by recent success in parliamentary and provincial elections, top interlocutors from the two leftist parties have been working to hash out strategies to take the planned merger to a logical conclusion.
Leaders privy to the ongoing negotiations said the talks have failed to materialize after Maoist Center insisted that the posts of President and Speaker, two key constitutional positions, should be divided between the two parties.
"The Speaker should be from our party if UML decides to keep Presidency. UML leaders are saying that they should get both positions. Such claims will complicate the power sharing process," said a Maoist leader. Maoist leaders have also said that the Vice President should be from the third largest party.
Despite disagreement over the key constitutional positions, cross party leaders said that the two parties have inched closer to striking an agreement on government formation in six provinces where the left alliance has won majority seats.
According to leaders, UML is likely to form governments in four provinces, while supporting Maoist Center in two provinces. The two parties have also reached an understanding to appoint chief ministers and speakers of provincial assemblies from alternative parties.
"If the chief ministers are from UML, the speakers would be from the Maoist Center and vice versa. A similar model will be followed to appoint the deputy speakers," Maoist leader Barshaman Pun said after a meeting of a joint panel on Sunday.
Though the exact model of power-sharing remains unclear, the two parties are mulling a 60/40 split in leadership, party organization and other key positions to strike a deal on power sharing.
Even as the joint panel looks closer to a deal on power sharing at the provincial level, there are still serious differences between the two parties on key positions including prime minister and party leadership. UML, despite its readiness to compromise all other demands put forth by Maoist, is not willing to share party leadership with the Maoist Center. However, Maoist leaders have clarified that the party should get a fair chance to lead the government and the party.
"If Oli Ji (UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli) leads the government, our chairman (Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal) should get the chance to lead the party," Maoist Center leader Mahendra Bahadur Shahi said.
UML leader Shankar Pokharel earlier this week said that the matter pertaining to premiership and party leadership would be resolved through talks at the highest level once Oli returns from Bangkok.