General

PDCC postpones report on draft constitution

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, KATHMANDU

Aug 3, 2015-

The Constituent Assembly’s plan to bring out the new constitution by mid-August was called into question on Sunday as the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC) decided not to submit its report on the draft constitution to full House of the CA until major parties agree on issues related to delineation of federal units.

 The CA had directed the PDCC on Wednesday to modify the draft constitution on the basis of public feedback and present it before the full House. PDCC Chairman Baburam Bhattarai postponed the meeting for an indefinite period, saying that he would submit the report only after parties agree on all issues. According to him, the parties have made an understanding to promulgate a new constitution only after the demarcation of federal units.

Earlier, CA Chairman Subas Nembang had insisted on pushing the constituting process forward even if the PDCC fails to find consensus on disputed issues. He was of the view that parties could forward the agreed issues to the CA and continue discussions on the remaining issues.

A taskforce formed by the major parties has thrashed out some minor issues of the constitution. But major issues such as demarcation of federal units, religion, form of government, provisions of citizenship, among others, remain unsettled.

On June 8, the four parties signed a 16-point deal which paved the way for preparing a preliminary draft of new constitution. The deal states that the country shall be federated into eight provinces and a commission will be formed to work out on demarcation.

But some of the top leaders have since changed their stance in the wake of an overwhelming public response in favour of the demarcation of provinces before promulgating the constitution.

The Nepali Congress and the UCPN (Maoist) are now pushing for the statute with demarcation, with Prime Minister and Congress President Sushil Koirala expressing his views on Sunday that the constitution should be promulgated only after the delineation of federal units. The CPN-UML, however, maintains that the constitution drafting process should be continued even if the parties cannot immediately agree on all the outstanding issues.

During a PDCC meeting, the UML along with some fringe parties objected to the fresh talks on demarcation arguing that it was against the spirit of the 16-point deal.  

According to UCPN (Maoist) Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the parties have tabled various options but the meeting ended without much progress on the issue of delineation. He believes the demarcation plan can be pencilled in for a federal commission to finalise the details later on, as the dispute is centred around five districts--Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailai and Kanchanpur.

In a joint Central Working Committee and Parliamentary Party meeting on Saturday, Nepali Congress leaders pressed the leadership to stand in favour of demarcation of federal units.

In the cross-party meeting, CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli has proposed that it would be better to federate the country into five provinces. UCPN (Maoist) asked UML not to backtrack from 16-point agreement.

In the meeting, Oli said he agreed for eight provinces on June 8 with a view that there would not be demarcation. “The number of provinces should be decreased if we go for demarcation right now,” Oli said.

Nepali Congress Vice-President Ram Chandra Poudel said it is not sure that there will be consensus on demarcation of federal units.  “UCPN (Maoist) is in favour of ethnic federalism which has created roadblocks in consensus,” Poudel told Post.

UCPN (Maoist) and Nepali Congress are on same page about the demarcation of federal units. However, UCPN (M) doubts that NC is willing to prolong the tenure of government till its general convention in the name of demarcation. “We are planning to hold a serious dialogue with NC tomorrow,” said Shrestha, adding that his party wants to promulgate the constitution by mid-August after settling the contentious issues.

Published: 03-08-2015 07:59

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