KATHMANDU, May 23: Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML say they have strong reservation over the government´s decision to register a bill on the extension of the term of Constituent Assembly (CA) for three months which goes against the Supreme Court verdict that says no further extension was possible.
Addressing a hurriedly-called press conference at his residence in Maharajgunj Tuesday evening, NC President Sushil Koirala said the party is against any decision to extend the CA´s term as this goes against the verdict of Supreme Court.
“Maoists put forth a proposal to extend the term of the CA in the meeting [of three major parties and United Democratic Madhesi Front]. I said NC cannot accept the proposal as it goes against the verdict of Supreme Court,” he said.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had proposed extending the term of CA for three months arguing they did not have enough time to settle contentious issues of new constitution, mainly the issue of federalism.
Earlier, the SC had ruled that the fourth extension of CA term which expires on May 27 would be the last one.
Koirala said though the NC showed maximum flexibility on various issues including federalism and system of governance there could not be consensus on the disputed issues of new constitution due to the tendency of the Maoists to keep changing their positions. “The Maoist proposal to extend the term of CA is just a time buying tactic,” he further said.
While adding that NC is firm in its stance to promulgate new constitution within the stipulated deadline of May 27, Koirala told the media that the party´s Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting will take the decision on how to move further in view of the government proposal to give a new lease of life to the CA. “We will also decide whether to pull out from the government,” he added.
NC has sent two members in the Baburam Bhattarai-led cabinet. Ironically, the bill registered by the government to extend the CA´s term for three months was undersigned by Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who leads the NC team in the government.
NC leaders have termed the government decision to extend the CA´s term against SC´s verdict as an attempt to put judiciary under the shadow of executive body. “The decision taken today will have a long-term consequence in our democracy. This is tantamount to keeping judiciary under the shadow of executive body,” said CWC member Dr Shekhar Koirala.
Dr Koirala argued that cabinet decision had blatantly violated the decision of the apex court. “NC as a democratic party that upholds the value of independent judiciary should not accept this decision. The party should immediately call CWC meeting to discuss on the issue and also withdraw its members from the government,” he further said.
Likewise, the UML has also expressed reservation over the proposal of CA´s term extension.
Talking to media persons after a meeting of three major parties and UDMF at Singha Durbar, UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said they do not agree with the Maoists proposal to extend the CA´s term. "We stuck to our position in the meeting that the new constitution should be promulgated within May 27. We do have agreement with the Maoist proposal for extension," he said.