Government’s 100 days fail to cheer watchers

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu
Government’s 100 days fail to cheer watchers

May 20, 2014-

On matters related to peace and constitution, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s performance in the first 100 days draws strong approval from political leaders and observers, but he decidedly scores far less in his governance.

The promulgation of the law related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission on Enforced Disappearances, and his leading role in selecting chairpersons of five CA committees have been appreciated widely. But, observers say, Koirala failed to fulfill some of his commitments that he spelt out while taking the country’s top executive position on February 10, with strong backing from the second largest party CPN-UML.

The glacial pace in appointing 26 Constituent Assembly members, the failure to address some pressing service delivery issues, working on much needed reforms that would attract investments, and slow preparations for the November Saarc summit are some areas where Koirala needs to quickly demonstrate his leadership skills. He has also drawn criticism for lobbing to endorse ‘controversial’ recommendations of judges for the Supreme Court.

If he takes measures to expedite preparations for the Saarc Summit, there are high chances of Indian PM-elect Narendra Modi visiting Nepal, which could be an achievement of the Koirala-government. “Except for the TRC law, there are no notable achievements of Koirala in his first 100 days,” said political analyst Krishna Khanal.

Holding local elections within six months was one of his public commitments made during the initial days in office. “If the local polls are impossible to be held shortly, he should not have made such commitment as he was becoming the PM,” said Khanal.

Though there have been efforts to formulate transitional justice mechanisms, major disagreements on the new constitution exist, and the CPN-Maoist still refuses to contribute to constitution writing. Koirala is yet to reach out to the party and others outside the Assembly.

Hinting at the government’s apathy, the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee of the CA on Monday asked Koirala to reach out to the parties outside the CA in order to expedite constitution drafting in an inclusive manner. It also demanded a sense of trust among the parties—a much-needed ingredient for constitution writing.

The government claims that it has made substantial progress in key national issues on which it is focussed. “Creating ground for constitution writing, completing the remaining tasks of the peace process and good governance are major priorities of the government,” said Minister for Information and Communications Minendra Rijal, who is also the government spokesman. “We have made substantial progress in completing the remaining tasks of the peace process. On the issue of governance, we will come up with a clear policy and programme in our first budget,” Rijal told the Post.

The coalition enjoys almost two-thirds majority in Parliament, which, leaders say, should give the government leeway to introduce a new policy and take bold decisions on national issues.

“But the government has not shown what it is capable of doing,” said CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal. “The government is failing to prioritise major tasks of constitution-writing and governance.”

It appears that Koirala did not take steps to nominate 26 CA members though it is a pressing concern. Last week, the Supreme Court ordered the Cabinet to appoint the members within 15 days—one week of which has already passed. Many interpret the court ruling as a result of the government’s perceived failure to perform its role on time.

On the governance front, the Koirala administration is charged with making a lackluster progress. He has not nominated ambassadors for more than a dozen destinations that have been headless for a long time. Neither has the government defined its foreign policy priorities.

The appointment of justices to the apex court has got into a controversy. Though the issue is not directly related to the Cabinet, fingers have been pointed at the PM for lobbying to endorse the recommendations. “The 100 days are an indicator of what the government will deliver in the coming days. The constitution will not be drafted within a year despite the PM’s public commitments,” said Khanal.

The relation between the coalition partners is not going well either. On the issue of judicial appointments, two ruling parties are divided while UML leaders publicly express their dissatisfaction at the government’s performance.

Published: 21-05-2014 08:59

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