KATHMANDU, Sept 20: The controversy over possible revival of the dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA) finally came to an end on Wednesday after the country´s four major political forces decided to go for fresh CA elections.
This has ended nearly four months of confusion that began after the unilateral dissolution of the CA by the Baburam Bhattarai-led government on May 27.
UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and United Madhesi Democratic Front (UDMF) -- an alliance of four Madhes-based parties, at a meeting on Wednesday, ruled out the possibility of reviving the CA as they failed to resolved contentious issues relating to federal provinces.
"After serious discussions, we came to a conclusion that promulgation of the constitution is not possible through revival of the CA as we could not agree on resolving the existing differences," CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal told reporters after the meeting held at the secretariat of the Special Committee for Integration and Rehabilitation of Former Maoist combatants. "The option of CA revival has now become irrelevant, and we will be heading for fresh elections."
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, NC President Sushil Koirala and the heads of Madhes-based ruling parties, among other senior leaders, were present during the talks.
UML Chairman Khanal said that with the chapter closed on CA revival, the formation of a national consensus government for holding the elections will be the first step in moving ahead now.
UCPN (Maoist) spokesman Agni Prasad Sapkota said that the parties reached the conclusion that there was no alternative to fresh elections.
The parties have decided to hold another meeting on Friday to discuss formation of the consensus government and the necessary legal procedures for creating an environment for fresh elections, according to Sapkota.
The parties held discussions for almost four hours on Wednesday to find common ground on the contentious issues of federalism, but could not reach any agreement.
"We discussed the possibilities of agreement over the May 15 deal," said Krishna Prasad Sitaula, general secretary of the NC. "But the efforts yielded no result."
On May 15, the major parties had reached an understanding on naming and delineating 11 provinces based on multi-ethnic identity and adopting a mixed system of governance with sharing of executive powers between a popularly-elected president and parliament-elected prime minister. They had also opted for a mixed electoral system, sharing seats under a first-past-the-post electoral mode and proportional representation quotas.
Sitaula told reporters after the meeting that the leaders have agreed to focus their next round of talks on the formation of a new consensus government and other necessary arrangements for fresh elections.
Bhim Rawal of CPN-UML claimed that the parties decided to close the chapter of CA revival after UCPN (Maoist) leaders ruled out the 11-province model and mixed system of governance that had been agreed on May 15.
The party leaders will now focus their discussions on the amendment of election-related provisions in the present constitution and related laws for forming an election-government.
The parties have decided to hold internal discussions before they sit for talks on Friday with their proposals on the election-government.
NC and UML leaders have already said that only a new government would be able to do all the necessary homework for elections, including amendment to the constitution and other related laws.
On May 27, the government had announced elections for a new CA on November 22 but the parties could not reach agreement to that end.
Meanwhile, CPN-Maoist Chairman Mohan Baidya told Republica that the decision taken by the three parties alone could not be acceptable to his party. He said all the stakeholders and parties needed to be involved in the talks to make it more effective.
Stating that the current talks were not held in a transparent manner, Baidya termed the latest development a conspiracy, not a solution.