ARJUN BHANDARI/ PRAKASH ACHARYA
KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai today held a Cabinet meeting and announced to hold fresh election to yet another Constituent Assembly on November 22, an hour before the current CA’s four-year term expired.
CA’s four-year term expired automatically after it failed to promulgate the new constitution within the stipulated time. The 601-member CA could not even hold its farewell meeting scheduled for 11 am.
Scores of CA members, particularly those close to the Mohan Baidhya-faction, chanted slogans throughout the day in the CA hall, demanding the CA meeting to adopt the new constitution.
After the parties failed to reach consensus on names, number and boundaries of the federal units, Prime Minister Bhattarai, after holding his party’s emergency standing committee meeting, announced that fresh election to the Constituent Assembly would be held on November 22.
NC and UML wanted to carve out at least five federal units in Tarai while the Madhes-based parties stuck to only two federal units there, bringing four years of efforts to promulgate constitution to a naught.
Emerging from the Cabinet meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ishwor Pokharel, who is also general secretary of the CPN-UML, told the mediapersons, “It is the PM’s unilateral decision to hold the CA election which we strongly opposed.”
RPP leader and Minister for Commerce and Supply Parshuram Khapung and Minister for Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Eknath Dhakal said the PM decided about election without reaching consensus among the political parties.
However, Minister of Finance Barshaman Pun said they had no other alternative but to announce the fresh CA election as the last resort after NC and UML didn’t agree on putting disputed issues of the constitution to vote.
“We beg apology from the Nepali people for the failure to adopt the new constitution through the CA,” Pun said. CA Chairman Subas Nembang also admitted to failure.
The Maoist and United Democratic Madhesi Front, a major ally of the Bhattarai-led coalition, were mulling over declaring a state of emergency with a view to extending the CA term by six more months. But the plan was put on hold after they ran out of time and also considering the fact that the move could be challenged in the Supreme Court.
NC leader Ramchandra Paudel and UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal flayed the government’s decision to go for fresh CA election, saying it was “unconstitutional”. Paudel said they would challenge the government decision.
FOUR YEAR TIMELINE
• 2008, April 10: Election to 601-member CA held
• 2008, May 28: First meeting of CA and declaration of republic
• 2010 May 28: CA term extended by a year
• 2011, April 24: Supreme Court upheld term-extension on doctrine of necessity
• 2011, May 28: CA term extended by three months
• 2011, Aug 28: Supreme Court upheld the term extension
• 2011, Aug 29: CA term extended for another three months
• 2011, Nov 29: CA term extension of six months
• 2012, Jan 31: State Restructuring Commission advises 10 federal states
• 2012, May 15: Parties agree on mixed form of governance with 11 federal states
• 2012, May 22: Government proposes three-month extension. Writs filed in SC against the proposal
• 2012, May 24: Supreme Court issues interim order not to extend the CA term
• 2012, May 27: CA dissolved