Having agreed to form a new government under the leadership of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi, Nepal’s four major parties continued their negotiations on Tuesday to forge a deal on contentious issues.

The road to elections for new Constituent Assembly in June, however, will only open once the Supreme Court gives it verdicts on a case against the party proposal to appoint Mr. Regmi as the head of the interim government.

“It all depends on the Supreme Court”, said Devendra Poudel, political adviser to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, “if the court drags on the case for more than a week, June elections will become impossible”.

Special bench

The hearings will begin on Thursday and are expected to last for several days.

A special bench of judges, which excludes Chief Justice Regmi, will then decide whether the appointment of Mr. Regmi as the head of executive violates the constitutional provisions for separation of powers.

Besides, the parties will also have to agree to a “package deal” on how to update the voter rolls; citizenship for excluded voters; delineation of new constituencies, and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission bill the ruling Maoists want to enact.

One of the negotiators from Nepali Congress, Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi, told The Hindu that parties have a verbal agreement on the issues of voter rolls and citizenship.

Amendment

If the parties can agree on a deal fast, and if the Court gives a favourable verdict, the President will then have to use the “clearing hurdles” provisions to amend the Interim Constitution.

Meanwhile, the breakaway Maoist party has announced nationwide hartal for Wednesday in opposition to the party plans for a Chief Justice-led government. More parties have announced hartal for Thursday.

Given the 100 days for preparations the Election Commission has demanded, there are growing worries that elections will not be held in June at all.

“If elections are our only priority, then all parties have to be ready to compromise on all election issues. This will be akin to crisis management,” said Bhojraj Pokhrel, former Chief Election Commissioner who oversaw the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections.

Keywords: Nepal elections