Nepal: Dr. Bhattarai Forms ‘Unity’ Government -By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
Another historic milestone was reached on 3r midnight when the four main political parties- the Maoists, Nepali Congress, CPN (UML) and the Madhesi Group that goes by the name UDMF ( United Democratic Madhesi Front) reached a five point understanding to form a ‘unity’ government that will finalise the new constitution before May 27th and let the Nepali Congress take over the government to conduct the elections within one year.
Technically, the new government formed is not a ‘consensus’ government as per Article 38(1) government but a majority government under Article 38(2) of the interim Constitution. Yet in substance it is for the first time after the promulgation of the interim constitution in 2005 that the major political parties have agreed to join together to form a government and thus pave the way for conducting elections under the new constitution subsequently.
The five point agreement is as follows.
1. All members of the incumbent cabinet will resign and a new unity government will be formed within two days as per the earlier seven point agreement.
2. All issues of constitution drafting including the state restructuring, form of governance etc. will be resolved in three days.
3. New Statute for the Constitution will be promulgated before May 27. The present incumbent PM will leave office before 27th and a unity government that will be formed under the Nepali Congress will conduct the elections within one year.
4. All outstanding work on peace process will be completed immediately as per the earlier agreements.
5. Top leaders of the political parties will hold regular meetings to expedite constitution drafting process.
Following the agreement and the resignation of the entire cabinet, Bhattarai has sworn in ten ministers- three from his party, two from the Nepali Congress and five from the Madhesi Democratic Front. Prominent among those include Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the Vice Chairman of the CPN (M) holding the foreign affairs portfolio, K.P. Situala of Nepali Congress and former Home minister in G.P.Koirala’s time and Former Dy. Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar of the UDMF.
The UML is sulking still and is unable to forward the names of ministers and there are differences within the party over joining. As indicated by Madhav Nepal, the party has no choice but to join the cabinet.
As expected the most vociferous opposition has come from the dissident faction of the Maoists led by Mohan Baidya. He called the agreement as one reached to the “interest of external forces” -(read India)!
With just 21 days left for the expiry of the present interim constitution, the political leaders are yet to solve the basic differences on state restructuring. The Far west is burning for the last one week and there are voices for a “united Far west” as against a separate Tharuhat. State restructuring based on ethnicity is creating more problems than expected.
What has been achieved is itself a miracle and it is hoped that the same good sense will prevail to ensure that the new constitution is promulgated by 27th May.