Decisive talks end on a positive note, no concrete agreement
N24 Correspondent, KATHMANDU: The much-hyped four party meeting expected to hammer out outstanding issues in the constitution writing process ended in a ‘positive note’ but failed to reach agreement as such on any of the disputed issues.
Among other issues, the two day residential meeting participated by around two dozen senior leadership of Maoists, Congress, UML and Madheshi Morcha concluded with a decision to meet again on Wednesday.
The two-day residential discussion at the exotic resort centered on the issue of state restructuring, forms of governance, electoral system, judiciary, and citizenship row and leaders claimed that they have ‘neared’ consensus on the issue.
Exiting the meeting, UML Chairman Jhalnath Khanal informed that the parties were near consensus on the five contentious issues and said that the next meeting, slated for Wednesday, will resolve all the disputes. He informed that the party leaders had one voice on promulgating the new constitution on May 27.
“Discussions were meaningful in narrowing down the differences. It has been meaningful in understanding the depth of each other’s stance. We will continue discussions and hope to finalize the issues within some days,” said Khanal.
NC Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel while seconding the information given by Khanal, added that positive discussions were made on the formation of national consensus government and claimed that parties have agreed to form the national consensus government soon.
“We have agreed to meet again after discussing the issues within our party. We have neared consensus on most of the issues, but have not finalized any of the issues,” said Paudel adding, “We have agreed to form national consensus government.”
Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar said that the parties have agreed to continue discussion on the issue of state restructuring after discussing the issue with concerned stakeholders.
“We have decided to hold joint discussions after consulting with ethnic organizations, activists, civil society representatives and party members,” said Gachhadar claiming that Wednesday’s meet would resolve all the issues.
Gachhadar said that parties have neared consensus on a parliament-elected Prime Minister but remained at odds on whether the President should be directly elected or through an electoral college.
Gachhadar, who is also the chairman of Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik), said that while NC had stood in favor of Electoral College elected President, the Maoists have held their ground for a directly elected President.
Despite these differences, all parties have agreed that the President will have more rights than the present one,but won’t have the right to impeach or remove the PM for a certain time frame.
Similarly parties have neared consensus on forming 7 to 9 provinces. However they are still at odds over the demarcation and nomenclature of the provinces. Maoist and Madhesh based parties have pressed for adopting the names on the basis of ethnic identity while NC and UML have insisted that culture, history, religion, along with ethnicity should be the basis for the naming the provinces.
After holding inter-party discussions on the outstanding issues on Tuesday, the parties will meet again on Wednesday for final and decisive talks on the issue.
AGREEMENT TO REQUEST 5 DAYS MORE
Though the parties failed to garner consensus on disputed issues, they nevertheless have reached agreement on resolving all outstanding issues in consensus.
Thus, with the understanding in place, they have also agreed to seek five days more from the Constitutional Committee to resolve all issues in consensus.
The CC meet is scheduled for Tuesday, the last day of the time frame given to the parties by the Business Advisory Committee of the CA.
NC leader Arjun Narsingh KC said that parties are ‘very much close’ to consensus on issues related to electoral and judicial system. He said that parties have agreed in principle that election will be held directly and will also have proportional representation. The same model was adopted for the CA elections too.
On the issue of constitutional bench, parties have agreed to provision a constitutional bench within the Supreme Court. However the Maoists have demanded that Constitutional Court be provisioned for the time being to manage the transitional period.
With the new proposal, the Maoists have backed off from their earlier stance for a separate Constitutional Court.
Leaders stayed at the resort for 26 hours, during these hours they convened three group, five informal, and 5 bilateral talks.