Nepal Communist Parties to Merge

Nepal’s two main communist parties have agreed to merge ahead of elections later this year. The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) and the CPN-Maoist Centre signed a pact in Kathmandu on October 3, along with the much smaller New Force Party. They agreed to jointly contest two-stage elections to the new House of Representatives on November 26 and December 7, and announce their unification after that.

The three parties named an eight-member unification co-ordination committee, which includes CPN-UML president KP Oli, Maoist chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal — better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda — and New Force leader Baburam Bhattarai.

Oli said a truly unified communist party was a “historic necessity solely in the interest of Nepal and its people.” He invited smaller communist factions to join, saying the new party was open to all.

The new alliance hopes to win a landslide two-thirds majority in the 275-member lower house, overtaking the Nepali Congress party currently governing in coalition with the Maoists.

Prachanda reassured Congress over the alliance’s intentions. “This is not targeted at any force and the alliance is for the well-being of the people and the nation,” he said.

But India’s Hindustan Times reported that an emergency meeting of the Nepali Congress had accused the Maoists of “betraying” their coalition partners and resolved to take “serious steps” against them. Some unnamed Congress leaders told the newspaper that the aim of the new alliance was to force their party out of government.

The new lower house will have 165 members elected by the first-past-the-post system from constituencies and 110 by proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency.

The alliance has agreed that CPN-UML members will make up 60 per cent of the constituency candidates and the Maoists 40 per cent.

The restored Federal Parliament replaces the 593-seat Constituent Assembly that has governed since 2008.

The parliament has not sat since former king Gyanendra dissolved it in 2002 — triggering a crisis that ended with the overthrow of the monarchy in 2008.

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