KATHMANDU, April 16: With the resolution of all contentious issues related to integration of the Maoist combatants on Saturday, major political parties began ´serious negotiations´ and appeared close to agreeing on the system of governance, a key issue in the new constitution over which the parties are at odds.
On Sunday, top politicians of UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and various Madhes-based parties went to Hattiban Resort in the outskirt of Kathmandu for a close-door meeting to resolve disputes on key issues in the new constitution.
Although details of talks were sketchy, a politicians who did not wished to be named said parties were near agreement on mixed system of governance where the president and the prime minister would share powers" "We are yet to hold detailed discussions on other issues of contention," the politician said.
The politician said the meeting began with top leaders putting forward their stands on contentious issues in a bid to set agenda for the meeting. They then held meetings with their own party colleagues to draw up individual parties´ position on each disputed issues and how much they are willing to compromise to reach agreement.
As the next official meeting was scheduled for Monday 9 am, the party leaders also held bilateral meeting to convince other parties on their positions. The Madhesi politicians had argued that issues like system of governance could be settled once the boundary and number of federal states were clear.
"There has been no agreement on any issues yet. We will start informal negotiations. It is not clear whether we will resolve all the contentious issues by tomorrow," UML leader Bhim Rawal said.
The top politicians were scheduled to stay overnight in the resort and continue their discussions till Monday afternoon to iron out all their remaining differences, including the issue of state restructuring, electoral system, judicial system and citizenship.
The sense of urgency came in view of the fast approaching deadline to promulgate the new constitution. Earlier, Business Advisory Committee of the parliament set April 17 as the deadline to resolve contentious issues in view of May 27 deadline for new constitution.
The meeting is attended by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is also the coordinator of Dispute Resolution Sub-Committee under the Constitutional Committee, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Hit Man Shakya. Likewise, Vice Chairman Mohan Baidya and Maoist Chief Whip Dev Gurung from the hard line faction in the party are also participating.
Likewise, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel, General Secretary Prakash Man Singh and Krishna Sitaula, Ram Sharan Mahat and Bimalendra Nidhi are present in the meeting.
The UML is represented by its Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Vice Chairman Bam Dev Gautam, General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel, Bhim Rawal and Surendra Pandey among others.
Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, Mahendra Yadav, Raj Kishor Yadav, Hridayesh Tripathi are among those attending the meeting on behalf of the United Democratic Madhesi Front.