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After a long period of drifting, Nepal’s peace process is now in a dizzying tailspin. After seven months without a government, Jhalanath Khanal, the head of the (conservative) communists of the United Marxist -Leninists (UML), was voted prime minister on 3 February with the backing of the former guerrillas, the Maoist communist party. This support came after Khanal reached a secret seven-point agreement with the Maoist leader-ship, which he kept from his own party.
Once sworn into power, Khanal revealed the terms of the agreement, which his party then forced him to renege on. This then led the Maoists to refuse to enter the government, triggering a new crisis. One crucial broken promise was Khanal’s agreement to allow the Maoists to take the position of home affairs minister, in charge of internal security.
A key issue in the peace process is the fate of the Maoists’ 19,000 former guerrillas, who were originally promised integration into the Nepali army as a condition of ending the Nepali civil war. Khanal had agreed that the former fighters would form a new separate security force. This compromise has been withdrawn.