KATHMANDU, Dec 7: Supporting the ruling UCPN (Maoist) party´s stance, the Federal Democratic Republican Alliance (FDRA), which is headed by UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said an agreement on a common candidate for prime minister should be reached only in a package deal and not in isolation.
At a meeting on Thursday the Alliance, which includes mostly the ruling parties, set six specific conditions before nominating a candidate for the prime minister to head the new government.
Prem Bahadur Singh, spokesman of the Alliance, said the issues that need to be settled in the deal are fixing the election date for the Constituent Assembly (CA), amendment to election-related laws and provisions in the Interim Constitution, determining the total number of constituencies, number of seats in the new parliament, and the electoral system.
"Also, there should be an agreement on owning up the work done by the dissolved CA and the political agreements reached in the course of statute drafting prior to the CA dissolution," Singh told Republica. "And there should be a guarantee of free and fair elections being held in the mid-April to mid-May period period."
Similarly, the Alliance said the issue of appointing heads and members at constitutional bodies such as the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, the Election Commission and the Public Service Commission, where the key positions have remained vacant for years, should be settled in the same package.
New conditions a ploy to extend govt tenure: Opposition parties
Leaders from the opposition parties have described the ruling coalition´s act of setting new conditions as solely intended to prolong their stay in power and avoid facing elections.
"It has become clear now that the UCPN (Maoist) and other ruling parties want to cling to power under one pretext or other and they are dead against leaving office," NC Spokesman Dilendra Prasad Badu told Republica. "Another reason for setting new conditions is to avoid facing elections."
He claimed that it is now proved that the government´s announcement on holding elections was nothing more than eyewash. "Now no one needs to remain in confusion why Prime Minister Baburam [Bhattarai] dissolved the CA," Badu explained. He argued that the prime minister´s intent behind the move was to cling to power by further deepening the political and constitution crisis.
CPN-UML Spokesman Pradeep Gyawali echoed Badu. He accused UCPN (Maoist) leaders of not only creating new hindrances but also backtracking from an agreement reached among the major political parties. Gyawali argued that the Maoists should have accepted NC leadership without objection because the four major political parties -- UCPN (Maoist), NC, CPN-UML and the United Democratic Madhesi Front -- had reached an understanding just ahead of the CA dissolution in May to form a consensus government under NC leadership.
The political course took a new turn after the major political parties failed to reach agreement over the issue of the federal setup and the CA saw its demise without promulgating a new constitution.
Both Badu and Gyawali said there is no point reaching political agreements over the federal setup and other thorny disputes as elections for the new CA are already announced. "All these national issues need to be settled only on the basis of a fresh mandate," said Gyawali.