Parties to negotiate stances

  • Major parties NC, UML, UCPN (M) begin dialogue on federalism and governance models
- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Parties to negotiate stances

Sep 2, 2014-

For the first time in the second Constituent Assembly, major parties have formally begun negotiations on the modality of federalism and the form of governance, two key contentious issues of the constitution-writing process.

As the deadline to forge consensus on the disputed issues draws closer, the parties began discussions with a commitment to adopt flexibility for exploring a point of compromise. In a three-party meeting held at Singha Durbar on Tuesday, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) reiterated their positions saying that they are ready to negotiate them. NC and UML pitched for a seven-state model of federalism. But leaders of the two parties said they were ready to discuss alternatives to find a meeting point.

The main opposition UCPN (Maoist) said the number of federal units could be around 10. Alternatively, they would also accept the 14 state-model recommended by the State Restructuring Committee of the first CA. Our party is open to discussion on the number and boundary of states on the basis of identity and economic viability, Maoist leaders said at the meeting.

On the forms of governance, leaders of the three parties hinted that they could adopt flexibility. NC leaders said they are not in favour of repeating the same model adopted after 1990 and would go for an improved system. The Maoist party said there could be a compromise on the governance model if the ruling parties agreed to inclusive federalism.

Top leaders have agreed to hold intensive discussion on Thursday after deliberations in their respective parties. They claimed that a give-and-take on contentious issues begins from that meeting.

“We cannot predict what the compromise would be but parties have expressed commitment to adopt flexibility,” said Baburam Bhattarai, chairman of the CA’s Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee.

“All the parties acknowledge that consensus is impossible if all the parties stick to their guns.”

As per the CA calendar, parties will have to settle contentious issues by September 6. They could still get some more days as it takes at least a week to prepare reports on the agreed and disputed agenda.

The Dialogue Committee will have to present its report even if consensus remains elusive by mid-September. If the parties fail to forge consensus, contentious issues will be put to a vote.

“NC hopes the parties will reach consensus after an intensive discussion on contentious issues,” said NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel.

Way being cleared for all-party conference

In a meeting with the CPN-Maoist on Tuesday, top leaders of the NC and UML agreed to hold an “all-party political conference” as demanded by the parties outside the CA.

Round-table conference, according to the CPN-Maoist, is a mechanism to draw up consensus among the parties in and outside the Assembly on disputed issues.

The meeting ended inconclusively after the CPN-Maoist insisted that the conference should be taken as an alternative to the CA.

“The parties seemed positive about the CPN-Maoist demand for an all-party conference,” said UCPN (Maoist) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha.

UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party leader Deepak Bohara supported the Maoist demand, while lower-rung leaders of the NC and UML objected to the call to bypass the CA.

“They want it to use it as a platform to take advice from us. We want it to act as a

full-fledged political mechanism to conclude the constitution writing and peace processes meaningfully,” said CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala asked CPN-Maoist Chairman Mohan Baidya to participate in the constitution-writing process.

Published: 03-09-2014 09:13

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