President set to pass ordinance ‘next week’

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Dec 29, 2017-Under pressure from several quarters to pass the ordinance on National Assembly election forwarded by the Cabinet more than two months ago, President Bidya Devi Bhan-dari is set to sign the document into law “next week”.

The delay in approving the ordinance, partly due to the differing positions of the governing Nepali Congress and the largest party CPN-UML over the modality of electing the upper house, has delayed formation even of the House of Representatives, three weeks after the elections.

The Election Commission has withheld results of the proportional representation category of the vote, arguing that the constitution requires the National Assembly to be elected first.

While the UML has been pressing Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to clear the way for formation of a new government, the PM has maintained that the ball is in the President’s court to break the deadlock by approving the ordinance.

President Bhandari has been holding a series of meetings with political parties, seeking their suggestions on ways out of the logjam. On Thursday, she met CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who urged the head of state to approve the ordinance without further delay, according to Dahal’s private secretariat.

The meeting comes a day after Dahal discussed the post-election scenario with UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli at the latter’s residence in Balkot on Wednesday. The two leaders are said to have discussed issues related to the ordinance. During the one-and-a-half-hour meeting with President Bhandari, Dahal argued that the impasse would end as soon as the ordinance was authenticated.

Bhandari’s Chief Personal Secretary Bhesh Raj Adhikari said it would take another four to five days for the President to arrive at a conclusion. She is said to have advised Dahal on Thursday that the major “and responsible” political parties should find an outlet to the impasse.

Before authenticating the ordinance, the President will urge consensus among the five parties in the lower house. But she would wait no longer for a “broader political agreement”, said sources at the President’s Office.

Whether there is an agreement among the parties or not, she is in no mood to put the ordinance on hold indefinitely, according to sources.

A senior official at the President’s Office said Bhandari will authenticate the ordinance probably next week after convening a meeting of the major parties. The NC and the Madhes-based parties have advocated the single transfer vote (STV) system while the UML bats for a majority-based vote, terming the STV unconstitutional.

The Maoist party, which has ministers in the Deuba Cabinet, finds it hard not to support the government’s bid. Since the party is part of the government that forwarded the ordinance, said a senior Maoist leader, “we  are morally bound to support it”.

Published: 29-12-2017 07:24

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