Better late than never. More than eight months after the unceremonious demise of the Constituent Assembly, people had virtually lost all hope of a constitution as the unending wrangling between major political forces threatened to spiral out of control. Thus the latest political understanding for the formation of an interim election government under the Chief Justice came as a breath of fresh air. Now that the parties have reached an understanding to hold the election of the Constituent Assembly cum Parliament by mid-June, they should expend all their energies in laying the groundwork for it. This includes convincing the Chief Justice that they will extend their full support for the promulgation of the constitution by June.
The protracted political and constitutional crisis has greatly dampened the spirits of the general public. The only way to restore their hope is by giving them another opportunity to choose their representatives to draft a new constitution. We understand that determining the ranks of former Maoist combatants, formation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Commission on Disappearances and establishment of a credible mechanism to distribute citizenship in Madhes are genuine issues. There needs to be proper homework to address them in the coming days, but these issues should also not be allowed to undermine the hard-earned environment of trust between the parties.
There are still some parties which oppose the formation of election government under the CJ. CPN-Maoist called for Nepal banda on Tuesday, which crippled normal life throughout the country. Millions had to walk to work and the country’s battered economy received another jolt. The newly-formed Federal Socialist Party led by Ashok Rai, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum Nepal led by Upendra Yadav and Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) have also expressed their dissatisfaction over a CJ-led government. That is not all. Even Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi is not certain he should accept the offer of premiership.
His apprehension seems to be that in case there can be no polls by June, all the blame will fall on his shoulders. In other words, he is afraid of being made a guinea pig in the great political game. This is a valid reservation. Indeed, unless he has assurance of complete support from the political parties on timely constitution, he has little incentive to take up the offer. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the idea of CJ as top executive has very little support within the judiciary.
Another important issue is bringing all political forces, big and small, on board. Only the participation of parties from across the political spectrum would make elections free, fair and credible. This is all the more important for the upcoming elections are no ordinary elections but for a new Constituent Assembly, which will chart the course of New Nepal. The dissenting groups, for their part, should understand that the only way out of the current crisis is new election and the longer it is delayed, the bigger the resulting crisis is likely to be. Given the delicate situation the country finds itself in, it is the responsibility of all political players who adhere by democratic principles to clear the hurdles to June polls