KATHMANDU, May 27: With just a day left for the Constituent Assembly (CA) term to expire, the three major political parties and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) remained busy till late Saturday night in their bid to thrash out thorny issues in constitution writing.
A meeting of the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN-UML and UDMF that ended inconclusively earlier in the day resumed for negotiations at the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar late Saturday evening.
The meeting was still under way as Republica went to the press at 11 pm. The leaders have agreed to make a last ditch effort at consensus Sunday morning.
Though the major political parties appear flexible over the number of provinces, differences still persist over whether to embrace single identity-based or multicultural provinces.
“The meeting failed to yield any result as the Maoists and UDMF did not agree to our proposal to embrace multi-language, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural provinces,” NC Vice president Ram Chandra Paudel told media persons after the meeting.
Paudel said they proposed multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural provinces. “We also proposed to authorize federal commission to settle the names, number and boundary of provinces and settle the issues through an extended parliament if there is no consensus on the issues now,” he said.
The “formal meeting” between the three major parties and UDMF hardly lasted for 45 minutes as both the Maoists and UDMF leaders walked out of the meeting.
While the Maoist and UDMF proposed single identity-based 14 provinces, NC and UML argued that an 8-province model based on multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural identity would be best suited to Nepal. “We reiterated our stance that single ethnic identity based provinces would invite disaster,” said UML Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam.
Gautam argued that would not be possible to delineate single ethnic identity-based provinces for all the 118 ethnic groups in the country. “UML and NC share a common view with regard to state restructuring,” he said ruling out any flexibility on the number of provinces.
Talking to media persons, Acting Chairman of Madhesi People’s Rights Forum- Republican (MPRF-R) Raj Kishor Yadav claimed that the meeting ended inconclusively after NC and UML turned down the 14-province model proposed by the CA thematic committee on state restructuring and 10-province model proposed by State Restructuring Commission (SRC). “We cannot surrender in the name of consensus,” he further said.
Maoist Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha told media persons that NC and UML were conspiring to dissolve the CA. “Both NC and UML have rejected our proposal for single identity-based provinces though two-thirds of the CA members are in favor of such provinces,” he said chocking with emotions. “There will neither be a new constitution, nor the CA now.”