By GYANU ADHIKARI:
With just over two months to go for Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, talks to bring the dissenting parties — led by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist — on board floundered after the major parties refused to postpone the election date and the head of the government Mr. Khila Raj Regmi who is also the Chief Justice, made clear that he would not resign from the judicial post. An “all party conference” held at the President’s palace for the past several days ended without a compromise on Monday.
“Our bottom line is the resignation of the Chief Justice,” said Mr. Dev Gurung, negotiator from the CPN-Maoists, talking to reporters after talks ended.
Negotiators say the CPN-Maoist has become “more flexible” in recent negotiations, but they would like to see the party commit to November election before addressing other demands.
One of their demands, that Mr. Regmi resign as Chief Justice, is also supported by Nepal Bar Association, the umbrella body of country’s lawyers. Mr. Regmi’s dual role came under intense criticism in recent days after the Supreme Court, in a surprise move, threw out more than a dozen petitions which challenged his appointment as President.
The petitioners’ concern was that this was a violation of the principle of separation of powers, something rejected as “irrelevant” by the SC.
The CPN-Maoist has also kept up its protest activities aimed at “boycotting” the November 19 elections with strikes. On Sunday, its party activists torched a bus to enforce the strike in Kathmandu’s surrounding districts, but no one was hurt in the attack. More protests have already announced.
Meanwhile, India’s Foreign Secretary, Ms. Sujatha Singh, wrapped up a two-day visit to Kathmandu, where she met the President, the head of the government as well as top politicians from the major parties, on Sunday.
She remarked before her departure that India supports elections on the scheduled date.
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