MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
The wait will be over by Friday midnight, whether there is an agreement or a disagreement on extending the CA tenure.
If there is no agreement, the CA expires on Friday midnight and so does the Interim Constitution. This will create a constitutional vacuum that could push the country to confrontation.
The Maoists have refused to support the government's proposal to extend the CA's term, demanding the prime minister's resignation and a national unity government first. The government needs a two-thirds majority to amend the constitution and extend the CA, for which Maoist votes are required.
During Wednesday's meeting with Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal turned down the Maoist demand. Nepal has long maintained that the Maoists should name a prime ministerial candidate acceptable to all, following which he will quit. However, the Maoists have been unable to name an alternative to Dahal.
"It's not about the package deal, it's about the prime-ministership. This will continue until a candidate is named," says Ramnath Dhakal, CA member and chairperson of the State Affairs Committee.
The Maoists desperately want some position in the state mechanism. Currently, NC and UML are holding all the major positions: Constitutional Committee chair, president and CA chair. The government (conspicuous in the absence of Maoists) has nominated chiefs and commissioners of constitutional bodies as well as the governor of Nepal Rastra Bank. It's no wonder the Maoists feel hard done by.
Maoist CA nominee Hari Roka asserts that the Maoists should be given space in the state mechanism simply to balance power. But the current coalition refuses to forsake power. "PM Nepal's statement against the CA and all the government nominations say it all," he says.
So what will happen if the CA is allowed to expire? CA Chair Subhas Nembang has been issuing warnings that both prime minister and president will cease to be legitimate once the CA expires. A caretaker government will take over, after which we will be operating in a constitutional void. But some lawyers argue that the parliament will remain intact even if the CA expires. Truth be told, we haven't been here before.
Politics abhors a vacuum, Publisher's Note
Engage the monarchy, Birja Bahadur Bista
Flex-ible, Prashant Jha
Full circle FM, CK Lal
United we fall, Indu Nepal
Just questions, Ashutosh Tiwari
Two seconds to midnight, Ass
Whither constitution writing