KATHMANDU, May 2: In a dramatic and positive development in Nepali politics, the major political parties have reached a deal on power sharing and are formalizing the agreement on Thursday.
As per the deal, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will dissolve his cabinet tomorrow afternoon and formally request the political parties to form a national consensus government as agreed in the seven-point deal signed on November 1 last year.
The national consensus government, which is likely to comprise a 11-15 member cabinet, will be formed within the next two days.
The parties have also agreed that Prime Minister Bhattarai will resign once the parties reach an agreement on all the contentious issues of the constitution and a government led by the Nepali Congress will promulgate the constitution.
“A NC-led national unity government will be formed after agreement is reached on the new constitution and before it is promulgated,” said NC General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who played a key role, along with Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, in brokering the deal.
Till a meeting held at Maoist Chairman Dahal’s residence this morning and attended by Dahal, Prime Minister Bhattarai, Sitaula, Dr Minendra Rijal and Amresh Kumar Singh, the prime minister had been insisting that he would resign only after the promulgation of the constitution.
At the end of the meeting, he offered to send his resignation to the president along with a copy of the constitution passed by the Constituent Assembly.
“It was only in the afternoon that Prime Minister Bhattarai conceded ground and agreed to resign after agreement is reached on the constitution,” said a senior leader privy to the negotiations.
Technically, the prime minister is likely to resign after the Constitutional Committee of the CA prepares the final draft of the constitution and before the full CA endorses it.
Emerging from a meeting of the three major parties—UCPN (Maoist), NC, UML— and the United Madhesi Democratic Front (UDFM), leaders expressed confidence that a national unity government could be formed within 24 hours.
CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal said, "We are going to ink an agreement on power sharing tomorrow and are planning to form a national consensus government, possibly by tomorrow."
NC General Secretary Sitaula said confusion and mistrust among the major political parties had given way to a very positive environment.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Maoist Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel, CPN-UML Chairman Khanal and former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, flanked by key second-rung leaders, were involved in the talks. Top leaders from Madhes-based political parties including Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, Mahantha Thakur, Mahendra Yadav and Rajkishore Yadav were also present at the talks.
Sitaula to lead NC in unity government
Nepali Congress General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula will lead NC in the national unity government to be formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.
“Most likely there will be one more minister from the NC in the new cabinet that is likely to be of small size,” said a source close to NC President Sushil Koirala.
The leaders have agreed to limit the cabinet size to about 11-15 members and mandate it to facilitate the consensus building in the constitution writing process.
4 provinces likely in Tarai
Top leaders seem to be leaning toward carving out 3 or 4 provinces in the Tarai, from Jhapa to Kanchanpur.
“Leaders are yet to finalize the exact number and boundaries of the provinces but they seem to be headed toward forming up to 4 provinces in the Tarai, to satisfy the rising demands of various social and political groups,” said a leader engaged in the negotiations.
According to him, there is now a strong possibility of two provinces in the eastern Tarai from Parsa to Jhapa, and two more in the western Tarai, from Nawalparasi to Kanchanpur.
“The Maoist and NC leaders are in tentative agreement that a separate province comprising Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari will be formed,” said a leader, adding, “Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has agreed to try to persuade the Madhesi leaders over this.”
“In all, there are now likely to be eight provinces in the hills and four in the plains,” said the leader.