KATHMANDU, May 26: As with previous talks on state restructuring, negotiations among major political parties and the Madhesi alliance on Friday also ended inconclusively, with the Maoist party and the Madhesi alliance differing with the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML over the federal model.
Yet, the top leaders were "more serious" in Friday´s negotiations on the issue of state restructuring and reiterated that these issues should be resolved through consensus, said leaders who participated in the meeting.
"Prachanda [Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal] told the meeting that all the outstanding issues should be resolved through consensus," said Nepali Congress leader Dr Ram Sharan Mahat.
Like at previous meetings, the Maoist party and the Madhesi alliance were together in urging the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML to agree to federate the country in 14 or 10 provinces, according to Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha. But the NC and CPN-UML rejected the proposal, saying the country should go for an eight-province or an 11-province model.
The Maoist party and the Madhesi alliance further proposed that the provinces should be named on the basis of identity and their territories determined tentatively, while announcing the constitution.
They further proposed that the NC and CPN-UML let the Constituent Assembly choose from these two models through voting. "We proposed to them to incorporate whichever model will be passed by a two-third majority vote. We further told them that the parties should take a decision themselves if none of the models gets a two-third majority," Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha said, speaking to Republica about the proposal of his party and the Madhesi alliance.
But Mahat said the NC and CPN-UML rejected the idea of voting as that would not be possible in view of the limited time the parties have for resolving the contentious issues.
"There is no time to go for voting as there are 114 questions to be resolved by the Constituent Assembly. We have not yet amended the regulations [to shorten the process for endorsing the constitution]," said Mahat when asked why the NC and CPN-UML were not ready to face voting on contentious issues.
The parties remained busy in inter- and intra-party negotiations from early Friday morning, following the Supreme Court order stalling an extension of term for the Constituent Assembly. The top leaders of the major three parties and the Madhesi alliance had also met President Ram Baran Yadav in the afternoon.
CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal said the parties are meeting on Saturday morning with, as he put it, cool minds to take initiatives for striking a deal.
"There is no alternative to consensus and we will try to forge a consensus out of a sense of responsibility to the country and the people," he said, emerging from the meeting.
President cautions leaders against untoward incident
President Ram Baran Yadav on Friday told the top leaders of the UCPN (Maoist) and the Madhesi alliance to put in all efforts to prepare the new constitution by May 27.
"You should be ready to own the credit or discredit for any untoward incident that may result from any alternative path," Rajendra Dahal, press advisor of Yadav, quoted the president as saying to the top leaders.
The president had called the top leaders to his office on Firday afternoon to encourage them to forge consensus on the contentious issues of the constitution. The leaders had reached the president´s office by postponing their meeting at the Ministry of Defense.
The president also urged them to give the country a new constitution and honestly carry out their responsibility toward the nation. "I request you not to lose this golden opportunity," Dahal further quoted the president as saying.