Form inclusive govt soon: Solheim

Kathmandu, March 8:

Norwegian Minister for International Development, Erik Solheim, wrapped up his two-day visit to Nepal today, suggesting the parties to form the inclusive interim government as soon as possible, and leave crucial issues for the constituent assembly to decide.

“Important and complicated questions on the future state structure and democratic organisation of Nepal should be left to the constituent assembly to decide, as its democratic legitimacy will be vested in people’s choice,” Solheim said at a press conference today.

Stating that important elements of the process are already delayed, he suggested: “I encourage the parties to the process to form the interim government of the seven- party alliance and Maoist party soon. The forming of the inclusive interim government would send an important message on the commitment to fulfil the vision of a democratic and peaceful Nepal.”

Solheim recommended all political parties and other politically active groups to show flexibility and will to agree on a framework that would enable free and fair elections to be held by June.

He said all kind of violence should be abandoned before elections. He added that

transformation of Maoists from military base to political base was a “Herculean task.” For the Norwegian minister, transforming elite Nepali society into an inclusive one was equally

important for securing the long lasting peace.

“The more inclusive the process, the more successful it will be,” Solheim said, adding: “Prachanda has assured us that they are ready for such a transformation.

He has expressed commitment to multi-party democracy and reassured to return the confiscated properties to the concerned. And, the PM was adamant that elections should be held by June.”

Refuting that Norway never told anyone that it would support the CPN-Maoist to establish Nepal as a Democratic Republic, Solheim said it is all for Nepali people to decide on the issue of monarch. “The Maoists said that monarchy should be replaced by a republican setup. It was difficult for me to convince women lawmakers of the CPN-M that Norway is (an example of) a successful constitutional monarch,” said Solheim, who interacted with 20 women lawmakers yesterday.

Solheim said that Nepal’s peace process was turning successful because “it is led by Nepali leaders.”

He assured that Norway would continue to pave the way for efficient follow-up of the other areas of support and activities that have been identified by the parties in the comprehensive peace agreement. “Fifty per cent of the Norwegian contribution to the Nepal Peace Trust Fund is earmarked for the cantonments, in order to ensure the living conditions in and around the camps sites will be improved.”

Solheim also confirmed Norway’s eagerness to increase development aid to Nepal, specially in hydro-power development and the education sector. Currently, Norway provides $ 34 million as development budget for Nepal. The minister visited the cantonment sites in Chitwan today before his departure.