Nepal: Newly governing leftist parties merge

Issue 
The plan to create a new, united Communist Party of Nepal will bring together most of the Communists in a nation with a long and powerful left tradition.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre, which  formed a new coalition government after winning elections late last year, now plan to unify the two parties.

The plan to create a new, united Communist Party of Nepal will bring together most of the Communists in a nation with a long and powerful left tradition, the EFE news agency said on February 20.

Four months after announcing their decision to jointly contest the December elections — which started the merger process — the two Communist parties decided that the new party will be called the Communist Party of Nepal, UML Secretary Pradeep Gyawali told EFE.

“This is an agreement to merge, but there are other issues we need to conclude before we completely unify,” a Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the AFP, adding that the transition process will take at least a month.

Running in a Left Front alliance, the two communist parties won 174 seats in the 275-seat legislature (with UML taking 131 seats and the Maoist Centre 53).

The new government, and moves for a united party, come after a tumultuous period in Nepalese history. A centuries-old monarchy was overthrown in 2006 by a combination of a decade-long “people’s war” waged by the Maoists and a mass uprising by an alliance of parties, including the UML.

The 2008 elections to the constituent assembly were won by the Maoists, paving the way for the official abolition of the monarchy and establishment of a republic. However, attempts to achieve far-reaching social change were frustrated by powerful forces and political instability.

Both the Maoists and UML had periods in unstable coalition governments, before teaming up last year to defeat the challenge of the main right-wing party, Nepali Congress.

Political historian Aditya Adhikari told the AFP: “If they manage to stick together it will change the future of Nepal’s politics.”

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