Red line

  • Parties in the CA should be flexible with the Baidya Maoists, but only so much
Red line

Sep 10, 2014-

The coming month is going to be very crucial for the constitution-drafting process. On September 6, the Constituent Assembly’s Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC) was supposed to finish resolving all constitutional issues and was to submit a report to the CA plenary by September 15. However, the parties were unable to reach agreement, and PDCC Chair Baburam Bhattarai submitted a report listing all issues that had been agreed and those that were not, to the CA chairman. The next deadline is October 15. On that date, the first draft of the constitution is supposed to be completed. The political parties say that they will take all steps possible to meet this deadline. They have agreed to use the next few weeks to find various ways to reach consensus on the constitution.

That, however, will be a difficult task. In the meantime, there are many issues that need attention. Currently, there is one concern that is hogging most of the attention. This is the formation and terms of reference of the all-party conference, initially demanded by the CPN-Maoist to draft the constitution. The party said that it would participate in the constitution-drafting process only if this conference was convened. The other parties, the Nepali Congress (NC), in particular, did well in agreeing to form such a mechanism to supplement the CA in order to gain broader political support for the constitution process. An all-party mechanism will enable other smaller groups that are not represented in the CA to voice their demands. There seems to be some progress towards figuring out the modality of the conference. After protracted negotiations, the parties have decided that the conference will begin on September 18, a day before Prime Minister Sushil Koirala leaves for New York to attend the annual UN General Assembly.

However, other demands of the CPN-Maoist have not been so easy to address. The party is now demanding the formation of a High Level Political Committee (HLPC), which that would include the NC, the CPN-UML, the UCPN (Maoist) and the CPN-Maoist, and that this body should oversee all outstanding aspects of the peace process. Furthermore, the CPN-Maoist states that it will not cooperate with the constitution-drafting process unless this HLPC is formed. This is an unreasonable demand. There is little more than a month before the first draft of the constitution is due. The parties should be focused solely on how they can produce a draft constitution by that deadline. Everything else can wait for a few more weeks. The UCPN (Maoist), which has been advocating for the CPN-Maoist in recent weeks, should realise this. It is well and fine for the two parties to take a joint stance on various issues, but not at the expense of the constitution-drafting process. As for senior UCPN (Maoist) leaders, not least party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, they will have to make up their mind where they stand on this issue, should the Baidya party’s intransigence continue.

Published: 11-09-2014 09:12

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