Agitating bloc gets PM invite for dialogue

  • Koirala issues statement asking parties to join statute writing ‘in the best interest of the nation’
- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Agitating bloc gets PM invite for dialogue

Feb 8, 2015-

In a major shift from the ruling parties’ position on constitution writing, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Sunday invited the agitating parties for talks without further delay and to seek consensus on the disputed issues of the constitution writing process.

Koirala appealed to the UCPN (Maoist), Madhes-based parties and other fringe parties to return to the negotiating table. He urged the partners of the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the second people’s movement as well as other parties represented in the Constituent Assembly to come on board the statute drafting process.

He called the parties to initiate talks immediately to find consensus on the disputes.

This is the second public appeal made by the premier to the opposition after the latter stayed away from the CA process expressing reservations about the formation of the Questionnaire Committee in the CA.

Irked by the ruling parties’ move to initiate voting on key constitutional issues, the opposition has announced phase-wise protest. The ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have been formulating questions over forms of government, federalism, electoral system and the judiciary—after a brawl in the CA ahead of the January 22 deadline.

The statement, however, does not specify whether the Questionnaire Committee would be scrapped altogether or its work slowed down for the sake of an agreement as demanded by the opposition.

In his appeal, the PM has only urged the opposition to sit for talks and make the people’s long-cherished dream of getting the constitution written by their representatives come true.

“Let’s sit for meaningful dialogue to reach common understanding on issues of the new constitution among the stakeholders of the People’s Movement and the peace process and participate in the constitution making process in the best interest of the people and the country,” reads the statement issued by Koirala.

NC leader Purna Bahadur Khadka commented that there would be no need for the committee if parties find consensus on the disputes.

The prime minister has proposed to take up the issues that were almost agreed to on January 19 for deliberation and work together to put the country on the path of political stability and progress by ending the prolonged instability. Three days before the constitution promulgation deadline, the parties were said to have settled all the issues except state restructuring.

On January 19, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar had suggested that the agreed upon issues could be sent to the Drafting Committee of the CA while the row over federalism could be settled within a month by forming a federal commission.

This proposal was similar to that of the ruling NC and UML and was opposed by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who leads the alliance that Gachhadar’s party is a member of.

Oppn finds appeal ‘abstract’

Opposition parties have welcomed “cautiously” Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s renewed call for dialogue, terming its language “abstract”. To decide their common position on the PM’s appeal, the opposition alliance will meet on Monday morning.

The statement has created confusion, said Maoist spokesman Dina Nath Sharma. He added that the PM should have clearly stated that the questionnaire formulation process in the CA will be stopped.

“The statement also failed to mention that the ruling parties stick to the 12-point agreement and other past accords and that the constitution will be drafted on the basis of consensus,” said Sharma. “We will not come to the negotiating table until the PM expresses such commitments,” he added.

The Madhes-centric parties have reacted to the call with caution. They said that it was yet to be seen how Koirala’s words are translated into action. “It’s a welcome decision on part of the prime minister. However, our expectation is that the questionnaire drafting process is put on hold. Let’s see how things unfold,” said Sarvendra Nath Shukla, Parliamentary Party leader of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party. Although the committee may be required in the end, Shukla added, its formation was untimely.

Published: 09-02-2015 09:02

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