Opposition foils discussion on statute amendment, poll bills

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu
Seven parties, led by main opposition CPN-UML, have been obstructing the House since the amendment bill was registered on November 29

Dec 20, 2016-The opposition continued its obstruction of the Legislature-Parliament, which was scheduled to discuss the constitution amendment proposal and two election-related bills on Monday.

Seven parties led by the main opposition CPN-UML have been obstructing the House meeting, ever since the amendment bill was registered in the Parliament Secretariat on November 29, claiming it to be against “national interests”.

Speaker Onasari Gharti had been avoiding putting the bill on the House agenda expecting the opposition to allow the business. However, as her efforts to convince the major parties failed, she made the amendment bill an agenda of the meeting. The House was also expected to have theoretical discussion on the Bill on Local Level Elections and the Bill to Amend and Integrate Prevailing Laws on Election Offences and Punishment that were registered in the secretariat on December 14.

No sooner had the Speaker announced the commencement of the meeting than opposition lawmakers stood up at their respective seats obstructing the process. She then allowed Laxman Rajbanshi of the Nepa Rastriya Party to present his views on behalf of the dissenting alliance. In his address, Rajbanshi demanded that the amendment bill be withdrawn and a commission of independent geographers and experts formed to work on delineation.

“The government has to focus on constitution implementation, not on its amendment,” said Rajbanshi. The opposition parties argue that the constitutional amendment related to the redrawing of provincial boundaries and language and citizenship is an “attack on national independence, sovereignty and integrity”.

“It’s three weeks since the bill was registered. It should be decided through the democratic process in Parliament,” Speaker Gharti told journalists after the House meeting. Parliament will next meet on Thursday.

The Speaker convened an all-party meeting earlier in the day in her bid to end the House deadlock. However, the consultation was fruitless after the UML remained adamant on its stance of not allowing the House to function unless the amendment bill was withdrawn.

“We won’t comprise. Withdrawal of the amendment bill is our bottom line,” UML Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam said after the meeting.

The ruling alliance also said it would not withdraw the bill at any cost. PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal urged the UML not to resort to the undemocratic move.

UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli said the amendment was unconstitutional so his party would not let it reach the House.

“The government is firm on its stand that the bill should be finalised in the House,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara.

Published: 20-12-2016 09:19

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