HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: After four years of sabre-rattling, squabbling and negotiations, major political forces today made a breakthrough on five contentious issues of constitution — forms of governance, federalism, judiciary, election system and citizenship — and cleared the decks for promulgating the new statute by the May 27 deadline.
Though the four major forces — Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front — have agreed on all contentious issues, the Madhesi front took exception to a few issues.
In what can be seen as a win-win formula for all, the big three parties agreed to give the Pradesh Sabhas the final authority to name their units. The UCPN-M and UDMF were pushing for single ethnic identity-based federalism whereas the NC and UML were pitching for multi-identity-based federalism.
“Today’s agreement has ensured the promulgation of a new constitution by May 27. Although, UDMF has some reservations, it will not obstruct the new statute,” said Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal said they agreed to tentatively demarcate the boundaries of the 11 pradeshes. “We will come up with a tentative demarcation of boundaries by tomorrow, but the final demarcation will be done by the transition Parliament as per the recommendation of a to-be-formed federal commission,” said Nepal.
Terming today’s agreement historic, NC leader Ramchandra Paudel said they had agreed to keep all the districts intact to the extent possible, but adjoining districts could be merged with or separated from neighbouring pradeshes.
UDMF leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar said the Madhesi front did not agree with the big three parties to carve out 11 pradeshes. “We are in favour of having either 14 pradeshes as recommended by Constituent Assembly’s thematic committee or 10 pradeshes as recommended by State Restructuring Commission,” said Gachhadar but added that UDMF would not be a stumbling block to the constitution-writing process.
Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said they agreed to promulgate a new constitution by May 27. He said his party agreed to go for 11 pradeshes to ensure timely promulgation of the new constitution.
“In some cases, the question of boundaries will be resolved through referendum,” Shrestha clarified.
UDMF agrees to disagree
KATHMANDU: A meeting of the United Democratic Madhesi Front held late in the evening on Tuesday took exception to an agreement reached among three major parties — Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML — on 11-pradesh model federalism. UDMF in a statement has appealed to all marginalised communities to fight for identity-based federalism.
“Although we beg to differ with the three parties for their agreement on issues of federalism, we will not obstruct the writing of the constitution and its promulgation,” said UDMF leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar after the meeting. The three parties on Tuesday reached an agreement on 11-pradesh model federalism but without mentioning names and boundaries of the federal units to be carved out. According to UDMF leader Laxman Lal Karna, the Madhesi front has taken exception to three issues — avoiding reappointment of Supreme Court judges on inclusive basis, making equal representation of members in the National Assembly from all Pradesh Sabhas by avoiding representation on the basis of population and geography and deal on 11 federal units without names and boundaries.
UML to join govt today
KATHMANDU: The CPN-UML on Tuesday decided to join the Baburam Bhattarai-led government to give it the shape of a national consensus government. The UML decision follows an agreement on several issues related to the drafting of the constitution. According to sources, UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel will join the government as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy and Central Committee member Radha Gyanwali as Minister for Education. UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said the party would send other ministers to the government after reaching an agreement with the prime minister on portfolios. The two names were instantly picked by UML Chairman Khanal, Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam, senior leader Madhav Nepal and leader KP Oli after leaders of other parties requested them to provide names for the ministerial posts during a four-party meeting held at PM Bhattarai’s residence in Baluwatar. With Pokharel’s appointment on Tuesday, the number of DPMs has reached four.
Consensus calls for
• Mixed form of governance — directly elected President and prime minister chosen by Parliament
• President and PM to share powers with more rights vested with the latter
• Strength of federal Parliament will be 376: Lower House will have 311 members — 171 elected through first-past-the-post system and 140 through proportional system.
• Strength of National Assembly will be 65: Five members will be elected from each Pradesh Sabha, 10 members will be appointed by the President on Cabinet’s recommendation
• Number of constituencies: 171
• Pradeshes will be multi-ethnic with all ethnic groups enjoying equal rights
• A federal commission will be formed to settle the issue of merging and separating areas
• Parliament will remain the supreme body with the authority to censure President and the PM