CONSTITUTION: Divided Agenda

As ruling and opposition parties are divided over the process of promulgating the new constitution, no one sees the end of political deadlock any time soon

April 24, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 08 No. -20 April 24- 2015 (Baishakh 11, 2072)

Despite the passing of almost a month and several rounds of talks, nothing has moved in politics as the political stalemate continues. As prime ministerSushil Koirala left the country for Indonesia, the process of further negotiations has gotten stalled for the time being.

As CPN-UML leader K.P. Sharma Oli is also reportedly heading for Bangkok for health check-up, there will be no one in the ruling side to take a major decision on constitution writing. It is almost certain now that the CA cannot move ahead on the issue.

Although the election for the second Constituent Assembly was held on the basis of political consensus among the major political parties, the house isnow completely divided following one and a half year after the election on the agenda of constitution writing.

Despite several efforts, UCPN-Maoist led 30-party alliance and NC-UML alliance are yet to budgefrom their stands on the contentious issues of constitution.

Even if the new constitution is promulgated at the present juncture, it will intensify the political confrontation, pushing Nepal into another round of prolonged political crisis.

“There is no history in the world where the constitution is promulgated on the basis of majority and minority. We want to promulgate the new constitution through consensus,” said former prime minister and UCPN-Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.“If ruling parties agree to withdraw the process, there is an immense possibility for the consensus.”

However, the ruling parties hold a different view. “We cannot wait now. Enough is enough. If they join the process, we will accommodate them. Otherwise the CA will take its own course,” said CPN-UML leader K.P. Sharma Oli. “There is a limit for political wait.”

As two major political factions are reaching the point of no return, the possibility of promulgation of new constitution on consensus is very slim. It is likely to cause a rebellion within the ruling parties on ethnicity, regional and religious issues.

Ruling Parties Move

From forms of government to state restructuring, the ruling parties, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, are close to consensus. They have agreed to form five provinces with reformed parliamentary system of governance.

Similarly, both parties have also agreed on the electoral process as there will be fifty-fifty for proportional representation and firs-the-past post system. The ruling parties have also agreed to give constitutional space to local bodies.

As a broad understanding between Nepali Congress and CPN-UML on major constitutional agenda is there, the possibility for the promulgation of new constitution through two thirds majority is a matter of minutes.

Opposition Stand

UCPN-Maoist led 30 partiesalliance too has so many commonalities with the proposal of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML. However, they hold different views on state restructuring and form of government.

“If ruling parties make efforts to bring the constitution like that of 1990, people will rebel against it. We want state restructuring in the changed context and the form of government as per the wishes of people,” said Dr. Bhattarai.“Our bottom line for state restructuring is to form 10 provinces with elected president and electoral process on the basis of completeproportionalrepresentation.”

Possible Scenario

The intensification of internal dispute will further divide the house plunging the country into a prolonged political instability. As the government is involved in political matters, it is unable to announce reform in financial sector and development sector.

Thanks to uncertainty over the constitution, there is a chaotic and uncertain situation for foreign investors. Nepal’s development activities are badly suffered due to the lack of stability.

If the things remain the same, Nepal will have to see one or the other kinds of political stalemate. This will hamper the implementation of development activities and economic development programs.

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