KATHMANDU, May 8: Chairman of the CA´s Constitutional Committee (CC) Nilamber Acharya has ruled out the possibility of promulgating a new constitution before the May 27 deadline while still abiding by all the relevent procedures.
He said the maximum that can be done by May 27 is to prepare only a first integrated draft of the new statute and that too only if the major political parties exhibit strong political will.
"Given the time constraints, I don´t see the possibility of promulgating a new constitution enshrining fundamental democratic values and principles and adhering to democratic procedures, by May 27," Acharya told Republica at his office at Singha Durbar on Monday.
The chairman of the CC mandated to prepare the first integrated draft of the new constitution said that if the top leaders don´t show strong willpower but keep confronting each other, it will be difficult [to even prepare the first draft]. "Some of the major contentious issues are still undecided and some of the constitutional procedures to be followed while endorsing the final draft are complex", he said.
He also alerted the political leadership not to contemplate preparing "any sort of document" in the name of a constitution and promulgating it "anyhow".
He emphasized the need for maintaining the quality of the statute and following fundamental democratic procedures as per the basic requirements of the CA. He urged political leaders to give up the mindset of promulgating a new statute of "no matter what sort and no matter how" because such a document will be dictatorial.
"The constitution must be a complete document in itself in terms of enshrining basic democratic values and principles and it must be democratic in terms of the endorsement procedures as well," he elaborated.
Given the possibility that only the first draft will be prepared by May 27, he urged the political leadership to ponder what can be the alternative options for completing the remaining tasks. He said that may require some amendment to the Interim Constitution and so it was high time they reached a consensus in this regard as well.
Acharya believes that the Supreme Court will not obstruct the CA from completing the remaining democratic procedures when the major tasks have already been completed. "The apex court verdict suggests mulling a constitutional alternative if despite sincere efforts there is no possibility of completing some procedures for promulgating the new constitution by May 27," he explained.
What can constitutional alternative be?
He opined that there can be various options available to the political parties, depending on how much work they have completed before May 27. "For instance, if the disputes are resolved, the major tasks completed, the first draft already tabled in the full CA and we need only seven more days, then such a scenario will require an easier option," he explained. According to him, if the political parties continue to confront each other, keep wrangling over power and even the first draft is not ready, that will be considered a failure of the CA and it will require a different option.
"So our working style in the next 10 days will determine what type of option we will be heading for," he said. He stressed the need for making the remaining days most result-oriented as that will lead to a relatively easier option. Otherwise the parties would face a very difficult option. "So it all depends on how hard we work in the remaining days," he said.
He called on the political leadership to show strong political determination, work sincerely to provide a solution for the country, and prepare a constitution with fundamental democratic values and principles, and that through democratic procedures.
Relations among major political forces crucial
Acharya repeatedly stressed that the relations among the major political forces will be crucial in determining the future political course. He claimed that drafting a new constitution and promulgating it is possible only if the major political parties stand together. Otherwise, he believes that it can´t be promulgated even if a draft is ready.
He said the major parties coming together will ease the drafting process and make possible the endorsement of the final draft by a two-thirds majority of the CA.
Meanwhile, one of the deputy prime ministers told Republica, "We have concluded that the promulgation of the constitution will not be possible in the remaining days. Once we reach a political understanding on the contentious issues, we will seek an extension of the Constituent Assembly." He said the leaders are yet to make up their minds over how much more time they will seek.
The deputy prime minister said that the leaderships of the major parties believe resolving the contentious issues will give them legitimacy for seeking yet another extension of the Constituent Assembly despite the Supreme Court ruling. The apex court had ruled that the current term will be the last.
"We will seek the extension only at the last moment and continue drafting the constitution after resolving the contentious issues," he further said, adding that the top leaders of the major parties do not want to reveal their plans about extension until the last moment.