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The end of the road

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Political parties are left with little wiggle room in the decisive week ahead

Om Astha Rai

With a little over a week to go for the 22 January deadline to write the new constitution, political parties are still polarised between the government and the opposition camps and have very few excuses left for their failure to find common ground.

There are a range of options ahead:

1. In the week that is left, the ruling and opposition parties might reach a last-minute understanding on the disputed issues of constitution: the basis of federalism, form of governance, electoral system and model of judiciary. This could pave the way for formation of an all-party government, which will write constitution through consensus by extending the deadline.

2. The ruling NC and the UML might promulgate constitution by using their combined two-thirds strength, further alienating the UCPN (Maoist), Madhesi and other fringe political parties. If that happens, the opposition parties, grouped under a 30-party alliance, will intensify their street protests. The alliance has already warned that it will launch a nationwide strike if the NC and the UML use their two-thirds strength.

3. The political parties fail to sort out the points of disagreement and miss the deadline. In this case, the UML chairman KP Oli will put pressure on Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to vacate the office. Last year, the NC and the UML had reached an understanding to write the constitution in one year’s time and elect Oli as new Prime Minister. But, Koirala will probably refuse to step down, arguing that he should have been forced to honour the pact only if constitution was promulgated within the deadline.

It is still too early to tell which of these three scenarios will ultimately unfold in the coming days, but the signs are not so good.  If it looks like the third option is possible, it will make politics even uglier.

Says constitutional law expert Bipin Adhikari: “The UML will try to topple the Koirala government, forcing the NC to seek new allies.” Promulgating constitution on the basis of two-thirds majority, if consensus if not reached, will be the best solution, Adhikari says, but achieving a two-thirds majority is in itself an uphill task. “As political parties appear incapable of reaching consensus, using two-thirds majority looks the simplest way out,” he says.

But, this being politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends. Old alliances could break and new alliances could be formed out.

After Constituent Assembly (CA) chairman Subash Nembang rejected the idea to forward the disputed issues to the Krishna Sitaula-led Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), the NC and the UCPN (Maoist)-led alliance are inching closer to a new incongruous alliance.

In the afternoon of 6 January, Nembang went to Baluwatar to meet the top leaders of the major political parties. In Baluwatar, Prime Minister Koirala asked if they could forward the disputed issues to the CDC. Nembang, whose proposal to prepare the first draft of constitution was turned down by the NC and the UCPN (Maoist), rejected Koirala’s idea outright, arguing that it would be against the CA’s regulations.

After this, Koirala is believed to have told the UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal that the NC can be flexible on demands put forth by the 30-party alliance. Later in the evening, an excited Dahal briefed his 30-party alliance members that the NC is now ready to forge a new alliance with them.

“He (Dahal) was all smiles when he briefed us about what Prime Minister told him,” said a member of the UCPN (Maoist)-led alliance. “We now hope to have a new partnership with the NC.”

If the NC and the UCPN (Maoist)-led alliance come together, the UML will do what Dahal had been doing: object to the use of two-thirds strength in promulgating constitution.

Read also:

Taskless force, Editorial 

Mixed signals, Editorial

One month to go, Editorial

Time to grown up, Anurag Acharya

Missing another deadline, Damakant Jayshi

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One Response to “The end of the road”

  1. Ngoc Mucciolo on Says:

    so much excellent info on here, : D.

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