Uncertain Again

Uncertain Again

March 9, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -18 Mar. 08- 2013 (Falgun 25, 2069)

At a time when the process of appointing the chief justice as the prime minister prolongs, the name of vice-president is being floated as an alternative candidate to lead the next government

Looking at the ongoing political activities, it seems that there is a long way to go before any political settlements happen. What is certain now is a prolonged political instability, with controlled anarchy here and there.  The proposal by 34 political parties to appoint vice-president Paramananda Jha as the new prime minister has indicated the possible scenario in case the court’s verdict goes against the proposed appointment of chief justice Khil Raj Regmi.

Similarly, the emerging new alliances of previously hostile forces against the chief justice appointment as the new prime minister is also an indication to a protracted political struggle. At a time when four major political parties, with tactical support of rightist RPP-Nepal, are lobbying in favor of chief justice Regmi, CPN-Maoist, a radical and authoritarian breakaway faction led by Mohan Vaidya, has received tactical support from rainbow coalition of all political parties and civil society members, who oppose chief justice Regmi’s appointment. 

Whether chief justice Khil Raj Regmi will lead the caretaker government or not is a matter of little concern. Regmi is able to unite the hostile political forces and hostile ideologies together in the current round of political battle. No matter where one stood ideologically in the past, chief justice Regmi’s proposed appointment has brought the strange bedfellows together in the name of separation of power. On the other hand, the name of vice president also appears to be circulating.

Following the disagreement on certain issues, parties have made it uncertain again if they will appoint the chief justice to head the caretaker government. Leaders of major political parties have already made it clear that it will take a few more days to announce the political agreement to pave the way for CJ Khil Raj Regmi to be the prime minister.  Even president Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has made it clear that he will not appoint chief justice Regmi as the prime minister until the court gives its verdict on the case.

“I am not in a hurry to appoint the chief justice as I will wait for the verdict of the court before taking any decision,” president Dr. Yadav reportedly told UCPN-Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda in his recent meeting.

Although president Dr. Ram Baran Yadav was reportedly one of the persons to recommend chief justice Khil Raj Regmi for the new role in the caretaker government, his sudden change in tone might have hinted at some reason or compulsion, as Nepal’s four major political parties are trying to fathom.

As the Supreme Court was beginning a hearing on the show cause notice regarding the appointment of chief justice Khil Raj Regmi as a neutral prime minister, it was expected that the process would take a week. After the decision, the possibility of holding the elections by the last week of May 2013 comes to an end. Even the leaders of major political parties have already made it clear that fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) elections cannot be held before November/December.

At a time when the disputes continue to grow, Minister for Health and Population Rajendra Mahato has said that the country would get an outlet to the ongoing constitutional and political crises within a few days. Stating that the necessary process to form the Chief Justice-led election government for a free and fair election has begun, he claimed that the CJ-led election government would be formed soon.

 Similarly, a meeting of the top leaders of the major political forces -- UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) -- held at Prime Minister’s official residence, Baluwatar, decided to finalize the matters related to removing the constitutional difficulties by March 5.

Political Options   

If political parties are unable to find political solutions, President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav is likely to forward another option acceptable to all. In his recent meetings with political leaders, president Yadav has already reminded leaders of political parties about his constitutional role to hold the elections for Constitutional Assembly and initiate the constitutional process.

 What Next

The next move of the president will be to push vice president Parmananda Jha as a candidate to head the next government. If all options fail, it is likely we get to see the government under president Dr. Ram Baran Yadav in the coming days.  

As senior advocate and eminent constitutional lawyer Ganesh Raj Sharma, retired from his profession, used to say that everyone was doomed to fail to predict Nepal’s political situation given its  complex geo-strategic location, where people have to believe in dancing ghosts in real life.

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