Nepal's ruling parties missed yesterday's deadline to form an interim parliament with Maoist rebels, the latest in a series of delays that have prompted a Maoist leader to question the government's commitment to a landmark peace accord.
Days after signing a peace accord with the communist rebels to end a decade-old insurgency that claimed more than 13,000 lives, there was no sign of the interim parliament mandated in the accord, officials said.
The Maoists blamed the government for the delay.
"We want to keep up with the schedule, but it is the government which is slowing things by not making any preparation," said Dev Gurung, a member of the communist rebels' peace talks team.
Gurung said Maoist leader Prachanda, who goes by one name, planned to meet Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to express the rebels' concerns.
"It appears the government is not serious about following the agreement," Gurung said.
The government said that officials had been busy with other issues related to the peace process.
Tourism Minister Pradeep Gyawali said the government had been occupied by talks with the Maoists and the UN on setting up and operating camps where the Maoist fighters would be confined.
"The interim parliament may have been delayed by maybe a week, but we are all involved in the peace process," Gyawali said.
Under the peace deal, the Maoists will receive 73 of the 330 seats in the interim parliament. Koirala's Nepali Congress party will retain the largest bloc, with 85 seats, while the Maoists' number of seats will equal that held by the Communist Party of Nepal. The rest of the seats will be shared among other, smaller parties.