Taskforce proposes 11-member neutral cabinet under CJ
KOSH RAJ KOIRALA
Top leaders to seal the deal today
KATHMANDU, Feb 17 : The taskforce comprising two members from each of the four major parties -- UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) -- has finalized a draft “consensus” agreement on the formation of an 11-member neutral cabinet led by chief justice to hold fresh election to the Constituent Assembly (CA).
Top leaders of all the four major parties are scheduled to make a formal announcement in this regard Monday as the taskforce could not complete “necessary homework” on recommending President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to resolve constitutional difficulties in the Interim Constitution to pave the way for holding polls.
"We have already settled all issues relating to the fresh polls. The agreement will be formally endorsed by the meeting of top leaders scheduled for Monday morning,” a member of the taskforce told Republica.
Talking to media persons after a four-party meeting held at the president´s office in Shital Niwas Sunday evening, UML Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam said they have decided to sit for another round of meeting Monday morning as the taskforce entrusted with preparing the draft proposal could not complete its works.
Leaders involved in the negotiations said there has been an agreement to form an 11-member Interim Election Council or Interim Election Council of Ministers under the chief justice to hold fresh polls. All the members of the proposed mechanism will consist of neutral candidates and technocrats. “Though we have agreed on eleven members, top leaders may even decide to increase the number,” said the taskforce member.
Likewise, the taskforce has reached an understanding on 490-member CA-cum-parliament, including 240 members directly elected under the first-past-the post system and 240 other members elected under proportional system. Likewise, 10 other members would be nominated by the cabinet.
The council led by chief justice will only have the mandate to hold fresh CA polls by mid-July. The parties have also reached an understanding to appoint senior-most justice in the Supreme Court Damodar Prasad Sharma as acting chief justice until the Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi heads the council. Regmi will be relieved of his duty as the chief justice until he resigns from the council after successfully holding the polls.
Though all other issues have been more or less settled, the issue related to voters´ registration, especially in the Tarai has become a bone of contention among parties. As the taskforce members from Madhes-based parties argued that a large number of their voters are yet to get registered, there has been an agreement to settle the issue through a high-level political consultation. Citizenship certificate is a must for one to get registered in the voters´ list as per the existing legal provisions.
Maoist leader Amik Sherchan told media persons after the meeting that discussions were heading in a positive direction. “Since the taskforce is yet to complete its work, we have decided to sit for another round of meeting on Monday,” he said. A meeting of top leaders of the four major parties scheduled for 10 am will take a decision on voters´ registration and delineation of electoral constituencies based on the 2011 census.
The parties have also reached an understanding to appoint former acting election commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety as chief election commissioner and another former acting chief commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung and former commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav as EC commissioners.
Meanwhile, top leaders of the major parties on Sunday formally requested Chief Justice Regmi to head the proposed council for holding the fresh polls. The leaders made such a request when the chief justice reached the president´s office to submit an annual report of the Supreme Court to President Ram Baran Yadav Sunday afternoon.