15-21 February 2013 #643

Future imperfect

YOUNG COMMUNIST: A child carries Maoist flags at a rally on Tuesday in Basantapur to mark the 17th anniversary of the start of the ‘People’s War’.
When the ruling Maoists floated the formula of nominating Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi to head an election government last week, they thought it would finally end the political deadlock. But the proposal has further deepened the distrust between the Maoists and the other parties, and ignited a controversy within the UML and NC. Older leaders whose bottom line is to see Bhattarai step down conditionally accept Regmi, but others say merging the executive with the judiciary is fatally flawed. On Thursday in Biratnagar, Prime Minister Bhattarai let the cat out of the bag when he said: “If the CJ is unacceptable to the parties, then I will head the election government myself.” Analysts like Narayan Wagle say making the CJ the PM was like putting the cart before the horse. “It is more important to first appoint an Election Commissioner and ensure free and fair polls,” he told Nepali Times. Civil society is also divided on the issue, with Maoist-aligned ones going with the CJ proposal, while another group of activists led by Daman Nath Dhungana said in a statement that making the CJ the PM would undermine due process.

Independent observers say the least messy option now maybe the original proposal to convince the UML and NC to join a Bhattarai-led election government.

Sunir Pandey

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