It seems increasingly unlikely that the Constitution Committee will complete the first draft of the constitution by 5 March, the formal deadline. Durga Khanal of Kantipur spoke to CA chairman Subas Nembang about progress on this front. Translated excerpts below:
Subas Nembang: Not really. We are engaged in serious discussions to find a way forward. We have finished discussions on the drafts submitted to the CA. Of the 11 thematic committe reports, one has passed unanimously while there are genuine differences in other reports. The CA members have already spoken on these issues in the House. The report study committee is working to find a solution for the contentious issues. On the recommendation of the committee I have met with political leaders informally and discussed these matters. But the political parties seem to be having problems figuring how to address it.
But we are running out of time and your informal meetings don?t seem to come up with solutions.
There is a special study committee to recommend and suggest solutions for contentious issues. It is also holding discussions with top leaders of the political parties. However, the parties are inflexible. They repeat their commitment to write a new constitution on time but they do not act on their words.
Does it not indicate that the new constitution will not be written on time?
I am optimistic. I would like to urge everyone to work towards the deadline. We can adopt a widely accepted international approach to complete the task on time if there is consensus among political parties.
What kind of approach is that?
We can drop the minor issues and focus only on genuine issues in the short term. But for that we need political consensus. Political parties should be open to compromise. To achieve that, I have asked for daily meetings with the political parties, which have yet to materialise.
Are you referring to state restructuring and PLA integration? Is it plausible to resolve these issues after promulgation of the constitution?
There are different aspects of state restructuring, say the issue of local government. There are other similar constitutional issues. However, the public should be convinced that their aspirations are incorporated in the constitution. There is no mention of the constitution writing and PLA integration separately in the CA schedule. The political parties are raising this issue. Some say integration first, while others say constitution before integration. Some even say it should go simultaneously. Political parties should make their stance clear on these issues.
There are talks of extending the CA and a holding new elections in order to establish fresh mandate for the constitution if the CA fails to meet the deadline. What options do we have?
I still believe the new constitution will be written on time if the political parties develop an understanding among themselves. If they do not work together, we don't have to wait until 28 May. A crisis could befall this country anytime.
Are there any constitutional provisions to extend the tenure of the CA?
We don't have to think about that yet. The best option is to complete the task in the given timeframe. The preamble of the interim constitution says the constitution promulgated by the CA will institutionalise the achievements of the movement. The political parties should take this into consideration.
A high level political mechanism is formed to assist the constitution writing process. But it is focused on the government rather than the constitution. How is it possible to meet the 28 May deadline?
When I got the news of formation of a high level mechanism, I thought was about to happen, but even its members are waiting for something to happen. It should clear the deadlock. It is a political mechanism. It will be meaningful if it facilitates the peace process and constitution writing. It has to prove its significance through action.
Disagreeing to agree - FROM ISSUE #491 (26 FEB 2010 - 04 MARCH 2010)
Standstill?- FROM ISSUE #491 (26 FEB 2010 - 04 MARCH 2010)
Constitution 2010, Nepali Times coverage of issues related to writing the new constitution