4-party meet fails to iron out statute differences

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Mar 14, 2015-

A meeting of the four major political forces, which was supposed to resolve the disputed issues of the constitution writing process, failed to iron out the differences as the parties refused to backtrack on their previous positions on federalism.

The parties, however, have expressed their commitment to continue the bid to promulgate the new constitution through consensus. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal are scheduled to sit on Sunday morning to decide the future course in view of the parties’ repeated failures to reach an accord on the disputes and the opposing views whether to continue the consensus effort or to follow the voting process in the Constituent Assembly.

Immediately after the meeting started at the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar, CPN-UML Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam urged the opposition parties to consider the nine-point joint proposal of the ruling parties. “Let’s discuss it if you have any suggestions,” Gautam reportedly told the UCPN (Maoist)-led alliance.

Backing Gautam, Nepali Congress leader Mahesh Acharya elaborated on the proposal to federate the country into seven states with reformed parliamentary system. He sought “convincing” options from the opposition block if they had any. “Except federalism, we have sorted most of the issues in consensus. Let’s discuss others so that the constitution is promulgated in consensus,” said NC interlocutor Acharya.

“Why should we provide suggestions on your proposal while we are here to seek consensus on the disputed issues?” Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha responded when NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel asked the Maoist and Madhesi parties for inputs.

Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal asked the ruling parties to postpone the CA proceedings until the disputes are settled. “The Maoist intent was to stop the CA process unless the disputes are resolved politically,” said UML Deputy General Secretary Ghan-shyam Bhushal.

Amid divergent views on the constitutional contents and the process to decide them, the meeting asked the PM and Dahal to sit on Sunday morning to explore alternatives.

Emerging from the meeting, leaders blamed each other for the failure to arrive at a conclusion. “The meeting could not seek a way out of the political crisis after Gautam’s remarks,” said Maoist leader Barsha Man Pun. DPM Gautam said the talks remained inconclusive due to the Maoists’ “double standard”.

Oli, Bhattarai and Mahato absent from meeting

UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, UCPN (Maoist) leader Baburam Bhattarai and Sadbhawana Party leader Rajendra Mahato were absent from the meeting. Oli is said to be ill. Maoist leaders said Bhattarai was out of Kathmandu.

Mahato had decided not to join the meeting reportedly as per the Madhes-centric parties’ decision to boycott all meetings attended by UML leaders.

NC for deciding disputes in accord

Despite pressure from coalition partner CPN-UML to resume the majority process of constitution drafting, the Nepali Congress on Saturday decided that the contentious issues of the new constitution should be decided through consensus.

The largest party is of the view that both the voting process in the Constituent Assembly and the street protest of opposition parties should be suspended for the time being, and the parties should engage in negotiations to find common ground on the disputes.

The NC came up with the stance amid the opposition front’s warning to unveil the second round of agitation if there is no consensus by Sunday and the UML’s pressure to resume the majority process in the CA.

A meeting of top NC leaders held at Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s residence in Baluwatar on Saturday also decided to adopt “utmost flexibility” on the contentious issues.

Published: 15-03-2015 08:34

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