Inching closer to breaking nearly four-month-long political deadlock, Nepal's top four parties have agreed in principle to form a government of national consensus under the Maoists' leadership but were yet to decide on a common minimum programme after rejecting the one proposed by the ex-rebels.
The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) at a meeting held Monday night agreed in principle to form a coalition government under the leadership of former rebels, NC spokesman Arjun Narsingh Khatri Chhetri said.
The four-party meet decided to form a national government and implement the past agreements signed between Maoists and interim government to take the peace process to a logical end.
Chhetri said 'we have come closer to a deal' for ending the political deadlock in Nepal, which remains without a formal government despite having conducted the Constituent Assembly elections on April 10 in which the Maoists emerged the largest group.However, he said, the matters relating to the common minimum programme were yet to be decided with the four parties agreeing to form a task force to finalise the CMP for the formation of a government based on consensus.
A meeting of three major political parties excluding the Maoists earlier on Monday had rejected the former rebels' 50-point common minimum programme and their pre-conditions to form a new government. They agreed to draft a fresh CMP and prepare a new basis for forging cooperation and collaboration to form a new government.
Maoist spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara said that during a second meeting of the four parties scheduled to be held shortly, a task force will be formed to finalise the common minimum programme and issues relating to power sharing will be discussed.
The meeting will focus on power-sharing and the common minimum programme, said Maoists' number two leader Baburam Bhattarai.
"There is a big challenge ahead of us as we move ahead to form a new government," he said.
After the three major parties raised objections to the Maoists' common minimum programme, the Maoist leaders agreed to revise it.
The seven-day deadline set by President Ram Baran Yadav for the Maoists to form the next government expires on Tuesday and is expected to be extended in view of the continuous efforts of the major parties to form a government.
Consultations among the major political parties for government formation were intensified after Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala returned home on Monday from Sri Lanka, where he had gone to attend the SAARC Summit.