Agitating parties ask PM to choose between protest, talks

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 20, 2016-

The agitating Madhes-based parties said on Tuesday that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli should choose between [their] protest and meaningful talks at the earliest “if the government wants to avoid any further crisis”. 

The statement comes a day after the agitating Madhesi parties and Janajati forces jointly announced that 

they would launch nationwide protests. 

Leaders affiliated to Sanghiya Gathabandan, an alliance forged by the Madhesi parties and Janajati forces, said that they were for a political solution to the Tarai crisis through talks. “We want a political solution to the crisis,” said Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal Secretary Parshu Ram Basnet. “We are still looking forward to talks to resolve the contentious issues of the constitution. We have kept protests as our last option.” Basnet added that the agitating parties are not against talks as alleged by the ruling parties. 

The Sanghiya Gathabandan allies on Tuesday held a meeting to devise their protest programmes. They plan to launch some symbolic programmes of protest at the end of this month. Leaders said that most of the parties present at the meeting stressed on the need to find an amicable solution through negotiation. 

Madhes-based parties and government have not held talks since February 18.  

Last week, PM Oli and his party CPN-UML had made separate appeals to the Madhes-based parties to return to the negotiating table. But the agitating parties have refused to pay heed to the calls, questioning sincerity of the government. “Meaningful talks are not possible unless PM Oli agrees that there are problems with the new constitution and that they need to be addressed,” Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur said while addressing an interaction on Monday. “What’s the meaning of holding talks when someone thinks there are no problems at all?”

Though the first amendment to the constitution on January 23 partially resolved some demands of Madhes-based parties, several other issues, including revision of the federal boundaries, one of their key demands, are yet to be addressed. 

On February 18, the government had set up a political mechanism under Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa to work on the demarcation issues. While the Madhes-based parties have refused to recognise the mechanism, saying it was formed unilaterally, the ruling parties have accused the agitating forces of non-cooperation. Hence the mechanism has been sitting idle since its formation. “The government has not put forward any condition for talks. The Morcha (Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha) should not put forward any condition for talks,” said Bishnu Rimal, PM Oli’s chief political adviser.

Published: 20-04-2016 08:35

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