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:: Nepal in Transition Monthly Updates
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Monday, 03 June 2013 10:49

Parties Entangled in Disputes

Bhuwan KC/Tilak Pathak

Despite the protests and opposition from all quarters, the High-Level Political Committee comprising of main leaders of UCPN (M), Nepali Congress, CPN (UML), and United Democratic Madhesi Front recommended to the government the name of Lokman Singh Karki, who had been a very controversial chief secretary of the government during the royal rule, to the post of the Chief Commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority. The President was also criticised after he approved of the nomination on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council. The uncertainty about the election to the Constituent Assembly remained. While the Election Commission moved ahead with its preparations for the election, the political parties got entangled on Constituent Assembly election ordinance. However, they also continued their preparations for the election through various programmes. They also began to accuse each other and stooped to give warnings to others. The election to the Free Students Union at Tribhuvan University was postponed despite vigorous preparations at the last moment due to disputes.

Bhuwan KC/Tilak Pathak

The main political parties reached a written agreement to appoint Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi as the head of the Interim Election Council of Ministers. And on the same day, March 13, the Council of Ministers, as per Interim Constitution Article 158, submitted a 25-point Ordinance to remove constitutional hurdles and difficulties, under which Regmi took an oath office and secrecy from the President. On March 14, Madhav Prasad Ghimire and Hari Prasad Neupane along with Regmi took oath of office as Home Minister and Law Minster respectively. The first meeting of the Council of Ministers decided to fix the election date soon after consultation with the Election Commission. With this decision of the government, hope for the election was revived. However, complexities and challenges of election remained. The proposal to appoint the Chief Justice to the head of government had caused dissatisfaction within Nepali Congress and UML, and CPN (M) and smaller parties had opposed from the beginning. Similarly, Nepal Bar Association and civil society had continuously opposed this proposal. Therefore, the Regmi-led government began to face criticism from all sides immediately after its formation. Along with the criticism and protest programmes and failure to set an election date, the election slated for April-May became uncertain.

Bhuwan KC/ Tilak Pathak

Sharp differences over formation of new government and holding elections along with mutual distrust and suspicion remained among the main political parties. Ruling United Democratic Coalition demanded election by June and asked congress, UML and other parties to join prime minister Baburam Bhattarai’s government, but the parties maintained that it was not possible to form an election government under Bhattarai. The opposition parties privately took the suggestion by the ruling coalition to form a government under independent individual if not under Bhattarai as another ruse to extend the government. Opposition parties also suspected that the different proposal by UCPN (M) and the government as a ploy to extend the government. However, after the President Ram Baran Yadav stopped extending the deadline for formation of a new government and the possibility of a consensus diminished, the opposition parties resorted to protests.

Bhuwan KC/Tilak Pathak

After UCPN (M) chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal proposed forming the government under the sitting Chief Justice, there was discussion in its favour and against throughout the month. Inaugurating the 7th party convention on February 2 in Hetauda, Dahal stated that it will bring a “new formula” for out of the current political impasse. Though he said that such a formula would be satisfactory to all, he did not clarify. However, on February 7, he proposed forming an election government under the sitting Chief Justice inside the convention hall. The convention approved this proposal in its closed session.

Monday, 28 January 2013 09:27

Consensus Government and Elections in Doubt

Bhuwan KC/ Tilak Pathak

President Ram Baran Yadav encouraged the parties to find consensus and prepare atmosphere for CA election in April-May, yet the political parties could not agree among themselves. Mainly, the coalition parties were against an alternative to the prime minister Baburam Bhattarai, while the opposition parties were in favour of exit of coalition Bhattarai government and Congress President Sushil Koirala becoming the prime minister. The role of UCPN (M) appeared to vacillate through it all.

Saturday, 01 December 2012 10:19

Politics of Collision

Bhuwank KC/ Tilak Pathak

After the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (CA) on May 27, the political parties were set on a collision course. Though they had announced new elections to the CA for November 22, 2012, it could not be held due to lack of consensus among the parties. Most of the time, they were focused on accusations and counter-accusations. The parties did not budge from their stances despite efforts at consensus. Instead, they started forming fronts against each other. Instead of political consensus, this pushed the country towards further polarisation

Though the President Ram Baran Yadav took lead in managing the political transition and encouraged consensus, power-centric politics of the parties became an obstacle. The parties not only ignored the President’s encouragements and suggestions, they attempted to use the Office of the President for their own advantage. This created occasional rifts between the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister. Despite accusing each other and refusing to accept the other’s leadership, they have given continuity to meetings and discussions. When there was no consensus between the parties and the government announced another date for the elections in April 2013, the President called for consensus government. With differences on the government, the constitution, elections among others, the parties could not recommend a consensus prime minster, and the series of extending the deadline for new government formation at the request of the parties by the President began.

The Constituent Assembly (CA) was dissolved without fulfilling its main responsibility of promulgating a constitution. Despite trying for four years, the political parties could not draft it. Towards the end, mainly UCPN (M), Nepali Congress, UML, and UDMF had held discussions on the disputed issues of constitution-drafting. However, there was no concrete outcome. Although the parties had reached agreement on forming federal states on the basis of identity and capability, there was sharp division on whether to name them based on a single ethnic or multi-ethnic identity. UCPN (M) and UDMF were in favour of single identity while Congress and UML were for multi-identity. When there was no consensus on this, the parties discussed alternatives. There was no agreement among the parties on this. The CA could not even sit because there was no agreement among the parties. As the discussions were going, deadline was nearing. In the meantime, prime minister Baburam Bhattarai announced a new election to the CA on November 22, 2012, and the CA deadline passed.

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