Ending uncertainty about the political road map, Nepal’s major political forces have agreed to go in for fresh elections for a Constituent Assembly (CA). The previous CA failed to deliver a Constitution because of differences on state restructuring among political parties. Its term ended on May 27.
On Wednesday, the four major political forces — Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) — discussed ways to resolve the political impasse. One option was to revive the CA, while the second was to hold elections. Revival of the CA remained contingent on a deal over federalism. Parties stuck to their stated positions on the names, numbers and boundaries of federal states. The Maoists and Madhesi parties stood for 10 or 14 primarily identity-based states as recommended by the CA committee and State Restructuring Commission concerned.
The NC pushed for 11 states, which would have carved out the Tarai plains into five provinces, and the UML argued in favour of a seven-state model.
Emerging from the talks on Wednesday evening, UML chairman and former Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal said, “We are not in a situation to agree on contentious Constitutional issues. So the possibility of reinstating the CA for a short while to promulgate the Constitution is not there any more. We have decided to go for fresh elections.”
While the NC had earlier backed polls for a new Parliament, party general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula said they had agreed elections would be for a new CA. “Once the CA does its work and the Constitution is promulgated, the same house can transform into a Parliament. Elections will take place under a national unity government.”
Speaking to The Hindu , Health Minister and Madhesi leader Rajendra Mahato said Wednesday’s in-principle agreement needs to be followed by a package deal. “While the election system will be a mix of both first-past-the-post and proportional representation like last time, we now need to decide on the number of seats, date of fresh polls, ways to remove the Constitutional and legal difficulties in holding polls, and leadership and composition of the election government.”
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