KATHMANDU, Feb 12: Although the leaders from major political parties including UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN-UML agreed to hold a fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) election by May-end, they are still at odds over forming new government under sitting chief justice to hold the election.
A meeting of the four major political forces held at President´s Office on Monday evening concluded with an agreement to hold another round of talks on Tuesday after opposition leaders including NC President Sushil Koirala and UML General Secretary Ishwar Pokharel expressed strong reservations over the proposal to make sitting chief justice as head of the government.
The leaders of the opposition parties maintained that nominating a person who already heads judiciary as head of the executive would be against the basic democratic values and against the principle of separation of powers.
However, the United Democratic Madhesi Front, which was represented at the meeting by Deputy PM Bijaya Gachchhadar supported the Maoist proposal. "Though we are yet to reach to any formal agreement, our talks revolved around the sitting chief justice. We have agreed to sit again tomorrow [Tuesday] after holding internal meetings in our respective parties on the issue," said Maoist Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who is also a deputy prime minister.
The Maoists, NC and UML are scheduled to hold internal meeting of their respective parties before a four-party meeting slated to be held at the residence of NC President Koirala at 4 pm, Tuesday.
During the meeting with the president, the leaders of the opposition parties proposed forming a new coalition government under the leadership of a retired chief justice or under the incumbent Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi only after he resigns the post. "We have not said anything about accepting or rejecting the proposal of making sitting chief justice a new prime minister. We do not want to drag him into controversy," NC Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel told media persons after the meeting.
Paudel also said that NC is open to discussing all alternatives including political leaders, independent persons and sitting as well as former chief justices. "We have been holding discussion on various technical aspects surrounding the issue," he further said.
After the opposition parties expressed reservations over making sitting chief justice a new prime minister, Maoist leaders at the meeting had tried to convince the opposition leaders by proposing to name the CJ-headed government as Advisory Council and naming the head of the council as chairperson instead.
Though there was no any agreement on the leadership of new government to hold election, the leaders renewed their commitment before the president on finalizing the common prime ministerial candidate by Wednesday evening. "We [NC and UML] will not agree to the Maoist proposal as it is a Maoist´s tactical move," said a UML leader requesting anonymity.
The leader also said he suspects that the Maoists might have some hidden interest in the new proposal. "It also can´t be ruled out that the Maoists might have floated the idea after reaching certain understanding with the present chief justice," said the leader.
Earlier in the day, key leaders from ruling Maoist party including Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had claimed that they are inching closer to a political agreement on forming election government under the leadership of the chief justice. However, later a meeting of NC and the UML decided not to accept sitting chief justice as new prime minister saying it will be against the principle of separation of powers.