Ever since they agreed to form an election government led by the Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi on Saturday, four of Nepal’s major parties are busy trying to woo Mr. Regmi to accept their proposal. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai convened a meeting of Mr. Regmi and party leaders at his residence to convince him to accept the party proposal.
Earlier on Saturday, the parties had formed a taskforce with members from the Nepali Congress (NC), United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and the United Democratic Madhesi Front. Ever since the taskforce submitted its recommendations, speculation is rife on whether Mr. Regmi will accept the proposal.
According to Bimalendra Nidhi, a negotiator from the Nepali Congress, the Chief Justice conveyed his reservations about the parties’ proposal. Mr. Regmi is said to be particularly unhappy about the provision in the proposal that his government would automatically be replaced should it be unable to hold elections by June 5. The four parties have now assured that they are ready to extend his tenure until the winter if necessary.
“We want him to head the election government so that the election process can immediately start,” said Nidhi.
Mr. Regmi, meanwhile, has also asked the parties to first resolve their outstanding issues over voter rolls, granting citizenship to disenfranchised Madhesis and constituency delineation, instead of putting the onus squarely on him. He is further alarmed by the fact that though most top leaders of the four parties have endorsed the idea of a government led by him, there are voices of dissent within both the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress. On Wednesday, former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who belongs to the CPN-UML, called on Mr. Regmi to resign as Chief Justice before heading an election government.
Protracted negotiations will make the June elections difficult. The Election Commission has asked the parties for at least 90 days for election preparations.
“The parties will have to decide quickly on all the outstanding issues or else tell the people that holding elections in June could compromise the quality of elections,” said Mr. Akhilesh Upadhyay, editor-in-chief of The Kathmandu Post. “You can’t put people in a limbo forever.”
Letter of protest
On Wednesday, six parties, among them the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist led by Mohan Baidya and the Federal Limbuwan State Council led by Kumar Lingden, submitted a letter of protest to the President, demanding that he reject the move to appoint Chief Justice as new head government as unconstitutional.