KATHMANDU, April 23: Leaders from major political parties have reached an understanding to adopt a mixed system of governance in which the executive powers will be shared between the directly-elected president and parliament-elected prime minister. During discussions led by top leaders of political parties at CA building in Baneshwar on Sunday evening, the leaders also agreed on directly-elected vice-president.
“The executive powers will be shared between the popularly-elected head of state and the prime minister elected by parliament,” Minister for Physical Planning Hridayesh Tripathi, a leader from Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party, told reporters outside the CA building. “As far as the possibility of conflict between the two power centers is concerned, the constitution will define the jurisdictions and the parliament will be mandated to arbitrate in disputes between the head of state and the head of government.”
Tripathi said such a system is already practised in Finland and the leaders decided to settle for the same model believing it to be the middle ground. He said the leaders discussed other contentious issues such as state restructuring, electoral model, judicial system and the provisions of citizenship to be enshrined in the new constitution.
On the number of provinces in the new federal map, Tripathi said they are narrowing down their differences and were likely to settle somewhere between eight and 10 provinces.
The leaders also decided to form a constitutional court with a defined mandate to arbitrate in disputes mainly related to federal affairs. They also said they agreed in principle on the proposal to form the constitutional court with a mandate to arbitrate in disputes between the federal and provincial governments or between one province with another or between the province and local bodies.
UCPN (Maoist), Madhes-based political parties and ethnic leaders have been lobbying for the constitutional court but Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and some other small political parties opposed the idea saying creating a body parallel to the Supreme Court would invite unnecessary friction in the judiciary.
NC General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula said they have given a green signal to form the constitutional court after UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal proposed a modified concept. “Now we are positive on the proposal because as per the latest concept the court will be given a mandate to arbitrate in disputes relating to federal affairs only,” Sitaula told reporters after the talks.
According to the participants, NC leaders became positive after Dahal proposed that such a court would have a defined jurisdiction and would have a five-year term after the promulgation of the new constitution.
NC leader and former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said his party became flexible only on condition that it will be given a defined jurisdiction and that the policy and criteria with regard to the appointment of justices for the constitutional court will be same as the existing criteria for the Supreme Court.
“We insisted that the criteria and procedures to appoint justices for the court should be impartial and there shouldn’t be any sharing among the political parties while appointing them,” said Deuba.
However, Khimlal Devkota of UCPN (Maoist), who was present at the talks said the leaders reached the understanding to form the constitutional court but they were yet to define the jurisdiction or its tenure.
Agni Kharel said CPN-UML agreed to form the constitutional court because the CA’s thematic committee on state restructuring and other concerned thematic committees had recommended to form a powerful body to arbitrate in disputes relating to federal affairs.
Leaders claimed that they have made significant progress to narrow down differences in all the remaining major disputes and were likely to resolve most of the remaining issues by Monday.