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Half-baked agreement

Monday, June 8th, 2015
Senior Leaders of four political parties Nepali Congress, CPN (UML), UCPN (Maoist) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik) during a meeting chair by the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala held on Monday at PM's Official Residence Baluwatar, Kathmandu. Photo: Kumar Shrestha, RSSs

A meeting of four major political parties in a meeting at PM’s official residence in Baluwatar, Kathmandu on Monday. Photo: RSS

After a meeting of four major political parties on Monday, UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokhrel briefed journalists that an understanding was finally forged on the eight-province model of federalism.

“We’ve agreed on the eight-province model,” said Pokhrel. “But names and boundaries of these provinces will be decided by future provincial councils and the proposed State Restructuring Commission (SRC).”

However, there were immediately reports that this agreement was tentative and could easily be rescinded at another meeting scheduled for Monday evening. What sources told Nepali Times is different from what Pokhrel and other leaders briefed journalists about Monday’s understanding.

As in the past, UCPN (M) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal insisted on the eight-province model of federalism in Monday’s meeting. Some NC and UML leaders objected to Dahal’s proposal, and insisted on their own six-province model. Halfway through the meeting, NC President and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala spoke, “All right, if you (Dahal) insist, we will go for the eight-province model.”

Dahal looked happy, and waited for other leaders to speak up, our sources said. NC and UML leaders looked at UML Chair KP Oli but Oli did not object and just said, “If NC agrees, we will also agree.”

An elated Dahal walked out of the meeting, saying, “It’s a deal, technical issues will be sorted out in another meeting.”

But after Dahal and other Maoist-Madhesi leaders left the meeting room, NC leaders Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Poudel, Krishna Sitaula and UML leaders Jhal Nath Khanal and Madhav Kumar Nepal confronted Koirala.

“How could you agree on the eight-province model without the Maoists-Madhesi showing flexibility on names and boundaries of federal provinces?” they asked the prime minister. “Can you guarantee that the Maoists-Madhesi will agree on passing the new constitution under a condition that names and boundaries of federal provinces will be determined later?”

Other NC and UML leaders also asked Koirala and Oli not to ink a deal on the eight-province model unless the Maoists-Madhesi parties agree on determining names and boundaries of federal provinces through future provincial councils and the commission. Koirala said he will not.

So, when four party leaders meet again Koirala is expected to ask the Maoist-Madhesi parties to agree on deciding names and boundaries of federal provinces through a special commission. While the Maoist-Madhesi parties have agreed to give responsibility of naming federal provinces to future federal councils, they insist that boundaries must be determined before the constitution is written.

Political leaders say Monday’s confusion stems from Koirala’s indecisiveness and confusion regarding the federalism agenda, and his lack of understanding of what it entails.

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One Response to “Half-baked agreement”

  1. namah on Says:

    as charlie brown would say…good grief…

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