2-8 January 2015 #739

“I want to be executive president”

onlinekhabar.com, 31 December

Answering questions on social media related to his opposition to the constitution-drafting process, Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) says he doesn’t want to be a ceremonial president.

Why are you in the opposition again?

Pushpa Kamal Dahal: The CA is an institution that comes from historical movement and mandates set by citizens. Political leaders therefore have tried to agree on drafting a new constitution. The first thing that needs to be clear is that just because you have been elected and have majority doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.  When India gained freedom, they didn’t draft a constitution immediately. They went to elections, discussed and formed one through the CA. There are a certain fundamental principles including that of state-restructuring, secular state, republic federalism, inclusive and proportional representation that were agreed on beforehand. If you forget the historical agreements, there will be conflict. It is because of these principles that the country has a CA and is in the process of becoming a federal democratic republic. If we abandon these principles now, we will move back in time. Our party wants a constitution based on these principles according to the previous agreements, for that we are ready to be extremely flexible.

  Why are you so adamant about the form of government?

The reason for Nepal’s political and economic instability is because we have been following a parliamentary system. The Westminster system brews extreme corruption and power struggles. For Nepal to move towards stability and economic development, it is imperative we have a stable government for at least five years. This is only possible with a directly elected president with executive powers. It isn’t like a directly elected presidential system is undemocratic. Can the US be called undemocratic then?  Also, with a change in form of government, the bureaucracy can be made more efficient, transparent and corruption-free. In addition, a directly elected president will make centre stronger and unite future federal states.

If you canvas the public’s opinion, a majority of Nepalis whether here or abroad are in favor of a directly elected presidential system, they know that this can mean political and economic stability for the country. The same is true for many party members of the NC and UML. As a matter of fact, if you read the manifesto of the UML, you will see that they were in favour of this form of government. They won votes because of this, and now they have changed their stance. Even if we are flexible on federalism, we will not compromise when it comes to the form of government.

And that is a job for you?

I am not looking to be the president as such, but if there are direct elections and if the party agrees with it, I do intend to field my candidacy. If they offer me the position as it is now, I will not take it. I don’t want to be a ceremonial president. It’s not important whether I win or not, this is something that will benefit the nation and should not be compromised no matter who wins.

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