8-14 March 2013 #646

Change the constitution to change the government?

Narayan Wagle, 3 March

Major leaders are once again busy meeting behind closed doors. They want Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi to become PM without much resistance and are looking for ways to ‘suspend’ the democratic principle of separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary. However, Nepal’s constitution will not allow this.

Yes, Bhattarai’s government needed to be replaced but on moral and political grounds, not on constitutional grounds. The current deadlock exists exactly because everyone is busy seeking a constitutional answer to a political problem. But giving an unelected person the keys to the cabinet will set the wrong precedence for the future and push the nation into an even deeper crisis.

In their last ditch attempt to dislodge Baburam Bhattarai from power, NC and UML leaders have unwittingly agreed to forgo the constitution and handed over victory to Bhattarai. Not only has this move tarnished their democratic credentials but also shown how weak they are.

If the opposition wants to keep the constitution alive, it must demand that Regmi resign from his post before taking over Baluwatar. But the UCPN(M) has played its cards very well (especially with Bhattarai taking a tough stance on citizenship, TRC bill, army integration, and voter registration issues) and completely bullied the opposition leaders into surrendering to its will. Continuing to comply with the Maoists will only put their existence at further risk.

Since November is the earliest possible date for polls, the CJ will basically be in charge for nine months. This will be a huge problem. There are critical questions the opposition parties need to reflect on: did the Maoists propose the ‘last resort’ CJ idea because they wanted to merge the two powers all along?

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