KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai today made it clear that he would not quit until the next government came through an election of the Constituent Assembly, which would also double as Parliament.
“Let it be clear that this government will remain in office until the next Parliament is in place,” Prime Minister Bhattarai told mediapersons at Tribhuvan International Airport upon his arrival from Rio de Janeiro, where he had been to attend the Rio+20 Summit held from June 20-22.
Bhattarai also ruled out the possibility of reviving the dissolved Constituent Assembly, as demanded by a section of political parties, saying that the Supreme Court’s November 25 verdict did not allow to do so. The SC had said that failure to draft and promulgate a new constitution by May 27 would lead to automatic dissolution of the CA.
He also warned that a situation like February 1, 2005 (when then king Gyanendra assumed absolute power by dismissing the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government) would arise if he stepped down. “I will not let arise yet another constitutional crisis by tendering my resignation as demanded by opposition parties,” said the prime minister.
He added that parties must resume dialogue on peace and constitution-drafting processes from the point where it had stalled.
Terming opposition parties’ demand of his resignation to form a unity government ‘childish’, Bhattarai, who was flanked by Deputy Prime Ministers Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar and Narayankaji Shrestha, said, “It is clear that a new government cannot be formed after I resign, as there is no Parliament to replace me.”
He also made it clear that a unity government could be formed under his leadership until elections of the next CA were held by making necessary amendments to the Interim Constitution.
Asked about the possibility of holding next elections of the CA when the Interim Constitution is silent about the same, Bhattarai said, “The Council of Ministers will take necessary decisions on consensus basis and the President will invoke Article 158 of the Interim Constitution to remove constitutional difficulties. This is an abnormal situation, which demands abnormal decisions.” He added that next CA elections would decide the future political course. He said the parties had already started consultations to resolve political and constitutional crises. “Our discussions must focus on holding the CA elections on time (November 22),” he said, adding: “A new constitution cannot be drafted in the absence of an elected body in the centre.”
Asked to shed light on his meeting with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, on the margins of Rio+20, Bhattarai said they dwelt on peace and constitution-drafting processes. “Mr Singh was keen to know why peace and constitution-drafting processes had stalled at the last moment,” he said.
Asked to comment on his party’s split when he was out of the country, Bhattarai said, “It is not actually a break-up. Some friends have walked out of the party out of wrath. They will return home in due course.”
• Possibility of CA
• Abnormal situation
• Discussions should
focus on holding fresh CA elections
• Baidhya faction will
return home in due course