KATHMANDU, Feb 11: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has said that he is ready to step down if there is an agreement among the political parties to form a new government under the sitting chief justice for holding a fresh CA election.
During a meeting with President Dr Ram Baran Yadav at Shital Niwas Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Bhattarai argued that forming a new government under the sitting chief justice is the best alternative as parties have refused to accept either a political leader or an independent person as head of the government.
The prime minister made his position clear in the wake of the opposition parties questioning whether the proposal of UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to form a new government under the chief justice has the present government’s backing. Earlier last month, Chairman Dahal had backtracked on a deal reached with Nepali Congress and CPN-UML saying that he could not convince Prime Minister Bhattarai.
Prime Minister Bhattarai maintained that though it is the primary responsibility of the political parties to forge consensus on forming a new government, both the president’s office and the prime minister’s office should be playing
the role of facilitator for such a deal. Sources close to the president’s office said President Yadav has taken the prime minister’s statement positively.
Talking to media persons after his meeting with President Yadav, Prime Minister Bhattarai said he made the proposal with the president as there is a dire need to hold fresh polls by May-end to resolve both constitutional and political deadlock. “So far, we saw various alternatives. It would have been better had there been an agreement to form a new government under a political leader. But now the situation is such that no party is accepting another party’s leadership,” the prime minister said. “Secondly, we also proposed an independent person for head of the government. But none of the alternatives have worked.”
The prime minister said his party floated the proposal to form a new government under the sitting chief justice as the last alternative to forge consensus. “Judiciary is considered an independent and impartial institution in worldwide practice. Therefore, it could probably be acceptable for all to move ahead by forming a government under the sitting chief justice to hold fresh election. This can help ensure free and fair election,” he said.
The prime minister, however, added that he personally will have no problem accepting any decisions made by the political parties. “Personally, I have also taken this alternative as a good one. But it is up to the political parties to make a decision. It will be acceptable to the government and me whatever decision the political parties will choose to take,” he said. “But looking at the situation now, it will be more appropriate to go for fresh election by forming a new government under the chief justice.”
During the meeting, the prime minister had also stressed the need for reaching a package deal including on a truth and reconciliation commission. “We should immediately forge consensus to form Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Peace process won’t be concluded without this,” he told media persons.
The prime minister had also drawn the attention of President Yadav to endorse various ordinances including one on organized crimes. “There is a danger of our country being blacklisted if we fail to pass this ordinance. I have, therefore, drawn the attention of the president toward the need to endorse the ordinance without delay,” he further said.
Though Nepal has already endorsed two of the three bills -- Extradition Bill and Mutual Cooperation Bill -- as per the condition set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering body, to avoid being blacklisted by the international community, another bill --- Bill to Control Organized Crimes -- failed to get parliament endorsement due to strong opposition from the Mohan Baidya faction of then UCPN (Maoist).
Officials said Nepal risks being put in the dark grey area if it fails to endorse the ordinance related to organized crimes anytime soon as Nepal has already been put in the grey area for its failure to do so. Earlier last week, US envoy to Nepal Peter W Bodde had also cautioned about this during his meeting with Finance Minister Barshaman Pun.