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Lead parties discuss unity government, suspending disputes

KATHMANDU: The meeting of three party and Madheshi Front leaders, called to resolve remaining disputes in the drafting of the new constitution, remained inconclusive after it was dominated by discussions to form national unity government.

Though the meeting was supposed to center on disputes seen in state restructuring and forms of governance, formation of national unity government became the major agenda of the meet. Entry of the national unity government in the discussion has foiled the earlier upbeat seen in the parties to resolve contentions.
In Monday’s meeting, Congress had proposed to form unity government in its leadership by the middle May. Ruling coalition partners—Maoist and Madheshi Front—trashed the proposal.

UML Chairman informed that the meeting remained largely inconclusive after parties stuck to their stance on disputes and unity government formation. “Ever party has their own stance. In totality, today’s meeting has prevailed pessimism,” said Khanal adding “today’s discussion has seriously jeopardized the earlier upbeat to promulgate the constitution.”

Both NC and UML leaders had condemned media reports, claiming that they had advocated allowing the present government to promulgate the constitution. “It is wrong commentary to say that the constitution will be promulgated through the present government. Tasks related to peace process and efforts to resolve disputed issues in the constitution have been carried out as per the spirit of the seven point deal. We tabled this agenda in the same spirit,” NC General Secretary Sitaula said.

Though NC and UML leaders have been claiming that the national unity government should be formed as per the 7 point understanding, the Maoist have proposed to form two unity governments. First of it in Bhattarai’s leadership to promulgate the new constitution and second one in NC’s leadership, after promulgating the constitution, to conduct the general elections. However Congress remained adamant on its stance to form only one government in its leadership by mid-May.

Sitaula however claimed that PM Bhattarai had assured to assist in forming unity government if parties garner consensus on disputes seen in state restructuring and forms of governance. “I won’t become hurdle in government formation, if consensus is garnered on disputed issues,” Sitaula quoted PM as saying during the meeting.

NC and UML leaders clarified that the recent statements to bring no-confidence motion against the government were unofficial. “There is no discussion on no-confidence, as claimed,” said UML leader Madhav Nepal.

Discussions on alternative to consensus

With the efforts to cater consensus on disputed issues becoming complex by the day, parties had also initiated discussions to resolve disputes through voting by the full house sitting of the CA in Monday’s meeting.

Though the discussions were centered on resolving disputes in state restructuring and forms of governance, parties did not take any decision on the issue. “We have not yet decided to opt for majority based voting,” Maoist Chairman Prachanda said.

Considering the fact the final draft of the constitution should be endorsed by two-third majority of the CA, parties have trying to avert majority-based voting to resolve disputes.
“The Maoists had tabled the proposal to adopt majority based voting to resolve disputes. UML has reservations against it,” Khanal said adding “we can resolve present disputes on majority based voting, but what about endorsing the constitution with two third majority. So, it is wrong to opt this process.”

Though parties have been in discussion for the past five days, they have not inched off from their proposal on both issues. In Monday’s meeting Maoist stuck to its ten-province model and NC, UML stuck to their 7 province model.

In forms of governance, the Maoist denied to buzz from its demand for directly elected executive Presidential system. On the other hand, NC stuck to its demand for a reformed parliamentary form of governance and UML remained steadfast with its proposal for directly elected executive Prime Minister and legislative elected President.

Despite differences in their proposal, parties are close to consensus on mixed form of governance with divided authorities between the President and Prime Minister. However, they are at cross roads over the distribution of power between the PM and President and procedures to elect them.

Prior to this, parties have reached agreement in principle on citizenship, citizenship and judicial system.

Today’s meeting ‘decisive’

Lead parties and Madheshi Front have claimed that they will engage in decisive talks on Tuesday. They have even claimed that they will also finalize whether to choose majority based voting, if they fail to resolve contentions.

The CA meeting, which has been differed time and again, is scheduled to meet today.

The Dispute Resolution Sub-Committee is scheduled to meet in morning and will decide whether to opt majority based voting or not, informed UML leader Nepal. Though parties are mulling on the process, the remaining 27 days are not sufficient to draft the constitution through majority based voting process.

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