CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY: In Limbo

As UCPN-Maoist led alliance continues to boycott the Constituent Assembly, it is uncertain when the next session will be summoned

March 22, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 08 No.- 18 March. 20 - 2015 (chaitra 6, 2071)

Although the ruling alliance leaders are stressing early resumption of Constituent Assembly session to draft the new constitution, the opposition parties led by UCPN-Maoist have made it clear that they will not take part in the CA without withdrawing the majority vote decision taken earlier.

“There is no question to take part in CA until the two ruling parties agree to withdraw their early decision taken through two thirds majority in the Constituent Assembly,” said UCPN-Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. “We always favor meaningful dialogue with the ruling parties."

However, the ruling parties hold different views. “How long can we wait? If the UCPN-Maoist led alliance continues to threaten boycott of the poll, we have to follow the democratic process of the two thirds majority. “We want to promulgate the new constitution by the Republic Day,” said deputy prime minister and leader of CPN-UML leader Bam Dev Gautam. “People have given us a clear mandate to promulgate the new constitution within the stipulated time.”

Given the present situation, it is not easy to promulgate the new constitution unilaterally or ignore the strength of UCPN-Maoist led thirty party alliance. They are small in strength in CA but they have enough strength to create disturbances.

As two major parties are mulling a constitution through a vote by two thirds majority, all fringe Maoist parties have started the process of unification or close alliance. This will have a definitely destructive impact on the country’s overall situation.

“There is the need to have a broader unity among all the Maoist parties to prevent two major parties to promulgate the regressive constitution,” said Janardan Sharma Prabhakar, after a joint meeting with five small fringe Maoist parties.

As the ruling and opposition parties are in a collision course, one cannot rule out the possibility of intense conflict in the country. Last week, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala made efforts to break ice by inviting UCPN-Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal at his residence.

After this ice break, ruling and opposition leaders sat for several rounds of talks. However, the talks broke down when CPN-UML leader Bam Dev Gautam criticized the opposition leaders.

As there is no sign for any immediate breakthrough among major political parties, chairman of Constituent Assembly Subash Chandra Nembang has taken an initiative. “I am very much frustrated to see the breaking of the negotiations. The announcement of protest program by UCPN-Maoist led alliance is likely to be widening the gap,” said Chairman of CA Nembang.

As two major ruling parties Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are pressing for early summoning of CA to promulgate the new constitution by May 29, chairman Nembang has few options before him.

"There is no way to hold on the CA process for an indefinite period of time. If the Maoist-led opposition continues to boycott the CA, we have to follow the democratic process and start the process of writing the new constitution,” said Chin Kazi Shrestha, chief whip of Nepali Congress.

Whatever leaders of ruling parties are saying in public, it is not easy for them to bypass the strong opposition led by UCPN-Maoist. Thus, the new initiative taken by CA chair Nembang may be a face-saving for all.

“I will take all efforts to bring the opposition parties in the debate of Constituent Assembly. UCPN-Maoist is one of the major forces demanding the CA to draft the constitution. I don’t think they continue to boycott CA,” said Nembang.

Meanwhile, with the recommendation of Constituent Assembly Chairman Subhash Chandra Nembang, President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has reappointed Manohar Prasad Bhattarai as a Secretary  General of Constituent Assembly Secretariat for the second five-year Tenure after General Secretary Bhattarai’s first tenure was completed . Having spent his entire career in Parliament, General Secretary Bhattarai is a well-informed person on parliamentary affairs in Nepal. 

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