SLMM calls for ‘some sincerity’ from govt side

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu
Morcha leaders say they are disappointed at ‘lack of seriousness’ on the part of representatives of the ruling parties

Jan 13, 2016-Representatives of the key parties of the ruling coalition in the three-party taskforce are not putting their whole-hearted efforts to achieve substantive outcomes from the ongoing negotiations, the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) has alleged. 

The taskforce comprising leaders from the SLMM, ruling CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) and the main opposition, Nepali Congress (NC), was formed to iron out differences regarding contentious issues of the constitution. 

A taskforce meeting on Monday could not take place after the members from the ruling coalition failed to show up, forcing the SLMM to cast doubt on sincerity of the government side to end the crisis.

The SLMM, an alliance of four Madhes-based parties, which has of late softened its stance on contentious issues, including state demarcation, seems to be keen to remain engaged in closed-door discussions until they reach some kind of settlement.

Morcha representatives in the taskforce have also been offering alternative ways to end the demarcation row. They have even agreed, at least in principle, to accept major parties’ proposal to revise federal boundaries through a political mechanism in three months. 

Following first two rounds of talks, the ruling parties had agreed to let Morcha know “the maximum they could do to provide credible assurance” on boundaries and other disputed issues. But they have not been able to bring anything on the table so far, said a Morcha leader. 

“Talks have failed to make any progress due to ruling coalition’s indecision,” Rajendra Shrestha, co-chair of Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal, told the Post after Tuesday’s meeting of the taskforce. “Negotiations cannot move forward unless they make their position clear on our demands.” Shrestha said the NC “appears to be more positive about resolving the standoff than the UML and UCPN (Maoist)”. 

Morcha leaders are particularly disappointed at what they call “lack of seriousness” on the part of representatives of the ruling parties. 

During Tuesday’s taskforce meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Bhim Rawal had sent Law Minister Agni Kharel to represent him. 

Home Minister Shakti Basnet, who has been representing UCPN (Maoist) in the last three meetings in absence of Krishna Bahadur Mahara, came two hours late with “a readymade excuse” that he was not aware about the meeting, added the Morcha leader. 

When asked, Prime Minister KP Oli’s Chief Political Adviser Bishnu Rimal rubbished the SLMM charges of lack of sincerity on the part of ruling parties to end the crisis. “In fact, the taskforce is holding fruitful meetings and has been able to narrow down differences on many contentious issues. Only few issues remain to be settled now,” said Rimal. 

Stating that they have shown maximum flexibility in recent meetings, Morcha leaders said a breakthrough now “largely depends on how much flexibly the ruling parties exhibit”. 

“What more do they expect from us when we have made it clear that we are ready for ‘a deal on credit’ on boundaries if they make clear what the deal is,” said Hridayesh Tripathi, vice-chair of Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party. “There should be credible assurance for the revision of federal boundaries, addressing our due concerns over the current demarcation.” 

Home Minister Basnet, however, claimed that the meeting was heading towards a positive direction. “There will be final negotiations with Morcha on Thursday,” he said. “We (three-party taskforce) will hold discussions with top leaders on Wednesday to make a common position on Morcha’s demands,” he said.

Published: 13-01-2016 08:35

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