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Another three months

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

The Constituent Assembly tenure has been extended for three months. If the fact that the nation was denied a constitution even after three years of long wait wasn’t troubling enough, the parties gave the entire nation a sleepless night with their irresponsible and unreasonable political posturing over the extension. What is most baffling is that the parties were unanimous in voting down the proposal of RPP-Nepal which was against the extension. This obviously meant that everybody else wanted the CA term extended. So what was holding up the process?

Everybody wanted to fish in the muddied water. For some, it was a perfect time to pre-negotiate their share in the new consensus government. For others it was an opportunity to enjoy their share of attention while the three big parties had been stealing the show. For those that genuinely did not want the extension, it was a short lived honeymoon. Ultimately, it was not the fear of mutually assured political disaster, rather a sacrifice of Jhala Nath Khanal government for a national consensus government that put an end to this overnight deadlock. It proves that the debate over the extension was never about the function of the CA but related with the prospect of power sharing.

The ninth amendment of the Interim constitution proposes three months of extension. The parties have made a five -points pact in which they have agreed to complete the peace process and come up with a first draft of the constitution within three months. This is a daunting task given the number of contentious issues. But it can also be seen as a political strategy that the opposition has adopted to pressurise the UCPN (Maoist) to complete the PLA integration and peace process as soon as possible. In any case, if the parties agree on the number of PLA soldiers to be integrated, the peace process will be completed on time and there is fairly good chance that the first draft of the constitution might be finished by stipulated time.

Meanwhile the Madhesi alliance has welcomed the extension proposal but decided to abstain from the process citing the ‘high highhandedness’ of the big three parties. The timely completion of constitution depends on honest and accommodating political bargaining. But the first challenge before the parties is to
form a consensus national government which will lead the country into the
peace process and constitution drafting.

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