Sitaula panel misses final draft deadline

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

Aug 18, 2015-

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) has failed to submit the final statute draft within the time provided by the Constituent Assembly owing to cross-party differences on some issues.

The CA on Wednesday had directed the CDC to amend the statute draft and present it as a bill by Monday. The task is pending as the parties were unable to forge consensus on secularism, realignment of some districts in the six-province model, and the vote threshold for parties.

A taskforce formed under the CDC has yet to submit its report to the committee. According to committee Chairman Krishna Prasad Sitaula, it would take two more days to prepare the Constitution Bill if the top leaders settle the disputes 

by Tuesday. The delay could hamper the parties’ plan to promulgate the new constitution by the end of this month. The CDC is scheduled to meet on Wednesday afternoon with the hope that the parties will settle the disputes by Tuesday.

Continued dialogue among the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML, the UCPN (Maoist) and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik has yet to resolve the agendas. The parties had assigned the Drafting Committee to go ahead with the task without settling the disputes.

The four parties on Monday said they would strike the final deal only after talks with the dissident parties, mainly the Madhes-based parties and the CPN-Maoist led by Mohan Baidya. NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel said the process could take the next couple of days.

After protests in some parts of the country, the parties in principle agreed to redraw the provinces. The UCPN (M) and the MJF-Loktantrik want to keep the Tharus of Kailali in Province 5 from their present location in Province 6.

NC senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML leader Bhim Rawal are against splitting the Kailali district. There are also disputes over some other districts. 

During the six-province agreement on August 8, the MJF-Loktantrik registered a note of dissent against the broken cluster of the indigenous Tharus.

As some leaders from the NC and the UML are proposing to transform the five development regions into five provinces, the UCPN (Maoist) has rejected the idea. Organising a press conference on Monday, Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the party was in favour of an eight-province model. The main opposition leader said a special Karnali autonomous province should be declared to address the demands of the Karnali people. Disputes on Rukum, Baglung and some mid-western districts remain unresolved.

The Maoist party also said secularism should be retained in the draft. However, the ruling NC and UML want to remove the provision for addressing the concerns registered during the public consultation process. The issue of secularism was already resolved but the parties began fresh discussion arguing that they should reconsider it respecting people’s 

suggestions.

The NC and the UML say the constitution should remain silent on religion. There has not been an agreement on the threshold percentage in the electoral system. 

Regarding the reappointment of heads of constitutional bodies, the parties have reached an understanding to continue with them even after constitution promulgation. The UML and the Maoists had been demanding their reappointment.

Published: 18-08-2015 12:21

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