Nepal’s political parties, whose differences on the way ahead had led to a deadlock, reached a four-point agreement on Tuesday paving the way for the dissenters to join the Constituent Assembly (CA). The agreement draft was released to the media after a meeting of eight political parties.
The parties have agreed to constitute a parliamentary committee to “investigate and submit suggestions on the questions raised about the CA election.” This was a concession to the UCPN (Maoist) and other dissenting parties which had been demanding a high-level commission outside Parliament to probe election-related questions as one of the conditions to join the CA. The UCPN (Maoist), the largest party in the first CA, had initially welcomed the successful conduct of the second CA election. However, it alleged systematic fraud after the trend showed it was set to lose heavily.
The parties also agreed to prepare the draft of the new constitution as per the spirit of the 12-point agreement, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution within six months and promulgate it in a year. They decided to form a high-level political mechanism with top leaders of major parties as its members in order to complete the remaining tasks of the peace process and help write the constitution. The convenor of the mechanism would be appointed from within the CA.
There was also accord on forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and a Commission on Enforced Disappearances. Both of these commissions have been long overdue. The parties pledged to form them on numerous occasions but never acted on their promise.
The leaders of eight political parties – the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML, the CPN (Maoist), the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Democratic), the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Nepal, Sadbhawana Party and the Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party – signed the agreement. They endorsed the draft of the agreement that was decided by the NC, the UML and the UCPN (M) at an earlier meeting.
The agreement was possible after the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML persuaded the UCPN (Maoist) to soften its stance on joining the CA. The two largest parties – the NC and the UML – had stood firm in the face of demands from the UCPN (M) which subsequently backed down from its position. The Maoists had initially put forth five conditions, including forming of a commission to investigate “election fraud,” its chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda as permanent convener of the political mechanism, amendment to the Interim Constitution to take decisions only by consensus, and hold a new election within a year after promulgating the constitution. There was no disagreement over its suggestion of moving forward as per the 12-point agreement, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution.
The parties also decided to request the Election Commission yet again to extend the deadline to submit the names of the elected candidates under the proportional representation (PR) electoral system for five more days. The EC has already extended the deadline – which expires on Wednesday – twice. The election to the Constituent Assembly (CA) was held on November 19. The deadline extension would further delay the convening of the first meeting of the CA.