Hectic parleys raise hope of agreement

  • Ruling coalition-gathabandhan meet
  • Panel formed to prepare revised constitution amendment proposal
  • Deal, most likely today, could clear clouds of uncertainty over polls
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Apr 22, 2017-

The ruling coalition and the agitating Madhesi and Janajati forces have inched closer to reaching a deal on constitution amendment, and an agreement is most likely on Saturday, according to various leaders who were engaged several meetings that were held on Friday.

During the second meeting of the ruling coalition and Sanghiya Gathabandhan, an alliance of Madhesi and Janajati parties, on Friday evening, leaders, including Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, agreed to draft a revised constitution amendment proposal to address the agitating forces’ demands.

According to Rajendra Shrestha, co-chair of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal (SSF-N), PM Dahal has assured that the government will address the agitating parties’ call to revise the amendment proposal. 

Friday’s meeting formed a four-member panel to prepare a draft of the revised amendment proposal.

Nepali Congress’ Krishna Sitaula, Rastriya Prajatantra Party’s Buddhiman Tamang from the ruling coalition and Shrestha and Laxman Lal Karna from the Gathabandhan are on the panel.

The development comes a day after six of the seven parties in the Samyukta Loktantrik Morcha (SLMM) announced their merger to form Rastriya Janata Party. The SSF-N, the seventh constituent of the SLMM, however, is planning a merger with Baburam Bhattarai’s Naya Shakti Nepal. 

According to Keshav Jha, a leader of the newly formed RJP, the ruling coalition has expressed its readiness to revise Article 7 (related to language) and Article 274 (related to constitution amendment) and form an inclusive federal commission to deal with the issues related to provincial boundaries within three months.

“The Gathabandhan will take a concrete decision once the ruling coalition shows its firm commitment to endorse the revised constitution amendment proposal,” he added. 

According to leaders, the ruling coalition is also ready to increase the number of local units in Province 2 and Province 5 to ensure Gathabandhan’s participation in local polls.

PM Dahal has also hinted at postponing elections if the Gathabandhan is ready to participate, according to a leader. 

The prime minister had invited Gathabandhan leaders in the morning to discuss their demands and ways to break the deadlock. In the afternoon, he held discussion with his coalition partners before inviting the Gathabandhan leaders to Baluwatar again in the evening “in a bid to break the long-drawn stalemate”

Angered at the government move of declaring polls without amending the constitution, the agitating parties, have announced protests and vowed to disrupt polls. 

 CPN (Maoist Centre) leader Shakti Basnet claimed that Friday’s meetings “were very much positive” and hoped that Saturday’s meeting “will certainly give a way out”.

Published: 22-04-2017 07:45

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