KATHMANDU, May 4: The ministers in the Baburam Bhattarai cabinet resigned en masse just before midnight Thursday to pave the way for the formation of a national consensus government.
The ministers submitted their resignations to the prime minister at the secretariat of the Special Committee following which the parties signed a five-point agreement to form a national unity government within two days as per the 7-point deal signed on Novemeber 1 last year.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayankaji Shrestha announced the resignations on behalf of all the Maoist ministers in the cabinet, while Minister for Physical Planning Hridayesh Tripathi made a similar announcement on behalf of ministers representing the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF).
“We all the ministers representing the UCPN (Maoist) have tendered our resignation as per the political understanding to help facilitate and create a conducive environment for the formation of a national consensus government,” Shrestha, emerging from the meeting, told journalists waiting at the BICC premises till midnight.
Similarly, Tripathi said, “I inform you that all ministers representing the United Democratic Madhesi Front have tendered our resignations, in view of the need to form a national consensus government for the promulgation of a constitution that ensures federalism based on identity and economic viability.”
Top leaders sign the five-point d agreement at the meeting in Constituent Assembly building in New Baneshwor, Thursday. (Photo: Republica)
As per the five-point deal, the parties have agreed to form a national consensus government under the leadership of the Nepali Congress after completion of the draft of the new constitution and before its promulgation.
The parties have also vowed to reach an understanding on the remaining disputed issues of constitution within three days.
Though the parties had reached an informal understanding on Wednesday to form a national consensus government, there were differing interpretations of the understanding when the parties met Thursday afternoon to formalize it.
Following an objection from the Madhesi parties over the understanding to ‘dissolve’ the current government, the parties held bilateral and trilateral meetings at the secretariat to find a middle path. At last, the parties decided to include the wording “ministers have agreed to resign to pave the way for the formation of a national consensus government” in the agreement.
At the outset of the meeting of major parties, senior CPN-UML leader KP Oli had sought the resignation of the prime minister to clear the way for the formation of a national consensus government.
“Why should Baburam Bhattarai not resign for the sake of a national consensus government when two prime ministers from our party had resigned for the sake of a national consensus government?” a participant quoted Oli as saying at the meeting.
Some NC and UML leaders had also demanded that the actual date of formation of an NC-led government should be categorically mentioned in the agreement. This stance of the main opposition parties delayed the agreement by some hours.
Toward the end of the meeting, some Madhesi ministers had argued that they should not be forced to resign from their posts immediately.
However, in the end, each side conceded ground, paving the way for the signing of the five-point deal just before midnight.
1. In the context of the resignation of all ministers in the present cabinet, a new consensus government under the leadership of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will be formed within two days as per the seven-point deal signed among the parties in the past.
2. Issues related to constitution making such as state restructuring and system of governance will be resolved through consensus within three days. The issues on which agreement is not reached will be resolved as per the procedures.
3. A new constitution will be promulgated before May 27, 2012. A Nepali Congress-led national consensus government will be formed following the resignation of the prime minister and prior to the promulgation of the new constitution. This government will hold general elections within one year.
4. All the remaining tasks of the peace process will be completed without delay.
5. Meetings of top leaders of the political parties will be held on a regular basis in a bid to expedite the constitution drafting process.