Kathmandu: Three major political parties - the Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML - today held a joint meeting at the UML's parliamentary party office in a bid to reach a consensus on Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Rookmangud Katawal's fate.
The Maoists want to summarily sack him (his three-year term expires after four months). Senior leaders of the Big Three discussed the UML proposal.
The UML has suggested that the incumbent army chief, his deputy Kul Bahadur Khadka and Minister for Defence Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal' should tender resignation from their respective posts.
The ruling ally has been pushing for the appointment of General Chhatraman Gurung as the new CoAS if there is a consensus on this formula.
It is learnt that veteran UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal has come up with another proposal.
“We have had a good look at the CoAS issue. The Maoists' strategy is loud and clear. They want to capture the state by interfering in the working of the judiciary, press and army,” said NC spokesperson Arjun Narsingh KC after the trilateral meeting.
Though KC mentioned that the PM asked the leaders to find a solution on the issue through a “package deal”, he refused to disclose what it entailed.
“But the PM has a tendency to make commitments on all issues. However, he always goes back on his words. We will take to the streets if the Maoists take a unilateral decision on General Katawal's case,” he added.
Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha painted a different picture of the talks. He maintained that the parties were close to an understanding on all key issues.
“The NC is still insistent that no further action should be taken against the CoAS. But we want to settle this at the earliest,” he added. Earlier, the Maoists and UML held a bilateral meeting to iron out differences.
“Discussions revolved around our party's proposal. We're hopeful of an amicable solution soon,” said Ishwor Pokharel, general secretary, UML.
Meanwhile, civil society leaders today met Madhav Kumar Nepal, chairman, Constitution Committee, urging him to focus on drafting the new statute.
“We also urged him that the PM must come up with a credible statement that the Maoists have no intention to capture the state. However, it's up to the government to take action or pardon the CoAS,” said Krishna Pahadi, a noted rights activist.
Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai also discussed the CoAS row with Sujata Koirala, chief of NC's foreign department, last night.