Last-ditch effort today to avert vote on thorny issues
KATHMANDU, May 1: The three major political parties--UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML--- and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) have decided to continue negotiations till the last moment to avoid voting in the Constituent Assembly (CA) even as they remain stuck over the issues of system of governance and federalism.
The parties have reached an understanding to meet again Tuesday morning to forge consensus, after a meeting held at the Special Committee Secretariat at New Baneshwor ended inconclusively as NC and the UCPN (Maoist) differed over number of federal provinces and system of governance. A meeting of the Dispute Resolution Subcommittee formed under the CA is scheduled for 8 a.m., Tuesday.
Talking to media, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said they held discussions on issues related to state restructuring, system of governance and formation of a national consensus government. "But there was no consensus on any of the issues discussed. This has cast doubt whether there will be a new constitution within the stipulated deadline [of May 27]," he said.
The Maoists even threatened to resolve the contentious issues through voting in the CA, arguing that there was slim chance of arriving at consensus. The parties will be required to opt for voting in the CA to resolve the issues should they continue to hold differences.
"A new constitution is not possible through a voting process. We must resolve the issues through consensus," Khanal further said.
Asked if the parties had agreed to go for voting in the CA to resolve the contentious issues, Maoist Chairman Dahal said, "We have not yet decided to go for voting." He added that efforts are still underway to resolve the differences.
According to NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC, the Maoist side had proposed to go for voting if there was no chance of consensus. "However, there has also been agreement to give continuity to the ongoing negotiations," he said.
KC said they did not have much discussion on issues related to system of governance as the parties continue to be at odds on number, names and boundaries of the federal provinces. "The Maoists also appeared averse to the idea of a national consensus government," he said.
Talking to media, Chairman of the ruling Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Democratic (MPRF-D) Bijaya Gachchhadar said a national consensus government would be possible only after the parties agree on issues related to federalism and system of governance. "We don´t want to keep other things pending while forming such a government," he said.
Gachchhadar, who is deputy prime minister and home minister, said the parties should first agree on number of provinces, their boundaries and names. His remarks come in the wake of the Maoists and UDMF agreeing at a meeting Monday morning to give continuity to the current government until a new statute is promulgated.
NC General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula said they must resolve disputed issues through consensus as voting in the CA cannot help bring a new constitution. "All the parties have agreed in principle to resolve the issues through consensus," he said.
Asked if the NC was preparing to file a no-confidence motion against the current government, Sitaula ruled out such a possibility. "But obviously, the recent agreement between Madhesi parties and the Maoists to give continuity to the current government till a new statute is promulgated has created waves. This has made us worry," he said.
Sitaula argued that there had been agreement in the seven-point accord, reached among the three major parties on November 1, 2011, to form a NC-led government before the promulgation of a new statute. "The prime minister has said that he is ready to tender his resignation if there is guarantee of promulgation of a new constitution. A national consensus government would be formed soon," he said.