KATHMANDU, May 17: A day after the major political forces reached an understanding on resolving the thorny disputes in constitution writing, key leaders have focused their discussions on the issue of power sharing between the president and the prime minister and on clearly defining their jurisdictions under the new constitution.
A meeting of the dispute resolution subcommittee under the CA´s Constitutional Committee (CC) on Wednesday took stock of the power sharing issue after a taskforce cursorily reworked the list of 117 contentious points and presented a report to the subcommittee meeting, in line with a political agreement reached among top leaders.
According to the leaders closely involved in the negotiations, leaders from across the parties have agreed to leave more or less intact the separate lists of powers described as the exclusive powers of the president and those of the prime minister, as earlier defined by the taskforce formed under the subcommittee.
They said they are mulling over reducing the concurrent list of around 13 functions that were earlier envisioned to be carried out in consultation and coordination between president and prime minister.
"Discussions are underway on how to further spell out the functions in the concurrent list so as to avoid conflict between the head of state and head of government," said UCPN (Maoist) leader Barshaman Pun, emerging from the meeting. The leaders decided not to keep the concurrent list long, as the greater the gray areas in the constitution the greater will be the chances of friction between the two power centers.
The taskforce had earlier prepared a list of nine functions to be exercised exclusively by the president, a list of eight functions exclusively for the prime minister and a list of 13 functions in the concurrent list. Leaders on Wednesday agreed to transfer the power to form and head the cabinet from the concurrent list to the prime minister.
Sources said, while trying to whittle down the concurrent list, the UCPN (Maoist) was for giving more powers to the president while the NC and CPN-UML were for giving these powers to the prime minister. They said the Maoists wanted the powers concerning defense and foreign affairs for the president. The concurrent list includes powers such as declaration of a state of emergency, issues related to international treaties and border security, mobilization of the army and dissolution of the federal government.
The exclusive powers of the president include appointing a prime minister who secures a majority in parliament and appointing ambassadors. The exclusive powers of the prime minister include maintaining the rule of law, formulating policies and development programs, implementing and monitoring them, and running the public administration.
The leaders, however, are one on accepting parliament as the mechanism for monitoring and controlling the powers of the president and those of the cabinet of ministers headed by the prime minister.
"We discussed extensively the powers of president and prime minister and agreed in principle that parliament will be the body for controlling and monitoring the powers of president and prime minister," NC lawmaker Ramesh Lekhak, a taskforce member, told Republica. "We have also agreed that the prime minister will form the cabinet and head it."
Leaders said they have agreed to limit the president to two terms. Though the parties have agreed to election of the president directly by the public, they are yet to decide how to elect the vice-president.