KATHMANDU, Dec 4: While cold-shouldering the demand of opposition parties to step down from the government, the UCPN (Maoist) has proposed that the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML first settle constitutional and legal issues related to fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) elections and wait till appointments are made to various constitutional bodies.
During a three-party meeting held on Monday evening, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal proposed that they could hold discussions on the resignation of Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai after settling the constitutional and legal difficulties surrounding fresh polls and appointments to constitutional bodies.
Talking to media persons after the meeting, UML Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam said the NC and UML insisted that all these issues be dealt with in a ´package´. “The Maoist side proposed that the issue of prime minister´s resignation could be discussed later. They asked us to agree on resolving the legal and constitutional difficulties concerning fresh polls and appointments to the constitutional bodies. We expressed our disagreement with the proposal,” he said.
Both NC and UML leaders rejected the Maoist proposal, arguing that it was a tactic to prolong Bhattarai´s stay in power. “We clearly said that we could hold discussions on all those issues only after the resignation of the prime minister,” Gautam further said.
Prime Minister Bhattarai also met President Dr Ram Baran Yadav and NC President Sushil Koirala separately earlier in the day to seek their support for resolving legal complications surrounding the appointments to various constitutional bodies.
The failure of the government to make appointments to constitutional bodies due to the absence of a parliament for mandatory hearings has left the Election Commission, Public Service Commission and Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, among others, almost without any office bearers.
NC President Sushil Koirala, General Secretary Krishna Sitaula, Maoist Chairman Dahal and another leader Amik Sherchan, and UML leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal, K P Oli and Gautam attended the three-party meeting held at Hotel Indreni in Gaushala. “Though we held discussions on all the issues, we failed to find any way out. We have decided to sit for our next meeting Tuesday,” said Sherchan.
Earlier in the day, Maoist Chairman Dahal had separately proposed to NC President Koirala to join the government under the premiership of Dr Bhattarai for holding the CA elections, hinting clearly that the Maoists were not stepping down from power any time soon.
Dahal made the proposal at a meeting held at Koirala´s residence at Maharajgunj with a view to forming a national consensus government for the polls slated to be held by mid-May. Dahal had also said that they were ready to offer key ministries such as Home and Finance to the opposition parties should they agree to join the current government.
NC CWC member Arjun Narsingh KC said the NC rejected the proposal outright, saying they were not in any mood to joint the Bhattarai-led government as it was responsible for creating the constitutional and political vacuum in the country.
“Dahal had proposed making the current Bhattarai-led government a national consensus government. But we rejected the proposal,” he said, adding that the current government had no moral ground for remaining in power any longer.
NC President Koirala maintained that there was no possibility of forming a national consensus government under Bhattarai as he had seriously breached their trust, pushing the country into a constitutional vacuum and a political crisis on May 27.
“It is natural for the NC to stake claim to the leadership of a new government since both the Maoists and CPN-UML have already led the government twice each after the CA election,” Koirala told media persons.
Addressing a face-to-face program organized by the Reporters´ Club at his residence, Koirala said the NC has already proved that it can hold free and fair elections.
“The defeat of the prime minister and home minister themselves in the CA election held under the leadership of the NC is testimony that it will hold free and fair elections,” Koirala said, adding that the NC rightfully deserves to lead the new government.