Zero-sum game: CA disappoints again

  • One more year down the drain as leaders do not keep Jan 22 constitution date
  • Nembang laments sharp polarisation among major forces
- Pranab Kharel, KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu
Zero-sum game: CA disappoints again

Jan 22, 2015-

This has been coming for a long time and it has finally happened. As the deadline for constitution promulgation expired on Thursday midnight, Constituent Assembly Chairman Subas Nembang announced that the new statute could not be issued this time as well, because of disagreements among the major political parties.

After the dissolution of the first CA in May 2012, a second Assembly was elected on November 19, 2013. The parties had pledged to bring the national charter on January 22; the CA calendar was adopted accordingly. But they failed to honour the popular mandate once again.

What was seen as the last ditch effort to hash out the disagreement over the process to settle the contentious issues on Thursday turned out to be an exercise in futility.

While the ruling parties— Nepali Congress and CPN -UML—backed Nembang’s proposal to form the Questionnaire Committee to resolve the disputes, the opposition bloc, led by the UCPN (Maoist), stood dead against it, obstructing the CA session for the second day.

CA Chairman Nembang adjourned the meeting at around 11:45pm amid all the hullabaloo caused by the lawmakers from the opposition alliance. Nembang, however, said that the process of initiating voting process on the contentious issues through the formation of the Questionnaire Committee will move ahead.

Before adjourning the session, Nembang issued a caveat telling the parties not to set a precedent of blocking the CA that may ultimately lead to a situation where the constitution may not be promulgated from the Assembly at all.  

“Obstruction of Parliament is not new. But this is the first time the CA session was disrupted in our parliamentary history,” Nembang said. He also explained that the move on his part to table the proposal for the formation of the Questionnaire Committee was out of compulsion. “As the parties failed to agree on the contents and the process to be adopted despite my earnest efforts, I was forced to move ahead as per the CA Rules of Procedure.”

Sharp polarisation was seen among the major forces after Nembang on Monday asked NC Chief Whip Chinkaji Shrestha to table a proposal to initiate the process to form the committee. As a result, lawmakers from the UCPN (Maoist)-led bloc staged a demonstration inside the CA Hall. On Thursday, CA members from the alliance blocked the well of Parliament before CA chairman convened the session at around 12:41pm. They barred the NC chief whip from tabling the proposal to form the committee. CA Chairman Nembang then adjourned the session for a few hours and held a meeting with leaders of the four parties to find a way out. At the meeting, Nembang floated three options before the parties: coming up with a joint proposal and apologising before the public with a renewed commitment to promulgate the statute;  sending the agreed issues to the Drafting Committee of the CA; and putting off the meeting for 15 days to give the parties time to initiate fresh round of discussion on the disputed issues.

However, the leaders of the ruling parties, UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli in particular, was averse to the proposals and left the CA premise only to return some hours later.

Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar had also suggested the Maoist leaders shelving off the issue of federalism to be settled for later during a talks held on the sidelines of the Thursday’s CA session. The Maoists leaders did not agree.  

Although the parties have failed for the second time to come up with the national charter within their self-imposed deadline of one year, CA Chairman Nembang said it does not mean that the Assembly’s four-year term, too, has expired.

“There is a moral obligation on the parties to draft the constitution, even more so now. Though today was not the final day to come up with the constitution, the world will look upon us with suspicion,” Nembang said.

Published: 23-01-2015 09:30

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