Parties seek three months more for CA, govt gets new lease of life
N24 Special Correspondent, KATHMANDU: Despite the Supreme Court cap on further extension of the Constituent Assembly (CA), the national unity government has started process to extend CA’s term by three months on Tuesday.
The government registered a bill for amending Article 64 of the Interim Constitution at the CA Secretariat on late Tuesday evening.
Government tabled the amendment bill while putting forward the achievements made in peace and constitution writing process and stressing on the need for some more time to resolve some core issues seen in the constitution writing process.
Deputy Secretary at the Law Ministry, Basudev Neupane had registered the amendment bill after receiving orders from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Law, Krishna Sitaula. Prior to this, Minister of Law themselves registered the amendment bill.
As per existing constitutional regulations, it is mandatory that the amendment bill be registered before five days at the least. In line with this provision, the government had asked the staff at the Bill department of the CA secretariat to wait till late hours for the bill to register the Bill.
The cabinet meeting at 7.30 in the evening had endorsed the decision to seek another three months extension for the CA. Following the decision, Minister Sitaula had dispatched Deputy Secretary Neupane to the CA Secretariat for registering the Bill, while he himself had reached out to CA Chairman Subash Chandra Nembang to discuss the cabinet decision.
This is the third time the government has registered a bill to amend the Interim Constitution and fifth time to extend the CA extension.
Before the cabinet endorsed the decision to seek another three months extension for the CA, Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai had tabled the proposal at the three party meeting, also participated by the Madheshi Front. And the cabinet had endorsed the proposal, after the lead political parties gave green signal to the government’s proposal.
However, Congress had agreed to seek three months extension for the CA with some riders during the meeting. “Prime Minister tabled the proposal to register the bill to extend the term of the CA. We supported the it, with some reservations, on the basis of morality,” said Congress leader Bimlendra Nidhi to journalists after the meeting.
While parties were busy in talks, Prime Minister and some other leaders held talks with Attorney General Mukti Pradhan.
Though parties have resolved most of the issues related to the new constitution, they decided to seek extension for the CA after differences between them state restructuring began to turn ugly.
Parties were earlier mulling on the option of resolving the remaining issues of the constitution in the transformed parliament but on Tuesday, the placed CA extension as their preference.
Before endorsing the proposal to seek another extension for the CA, parties were busy throughout the day to resolve contentions between them on state restructuring. However, they had resorted to adopt legal provisions to extend the CA after they failed to reach consensus on the disputed issues related to federalism.
Before the four party meeting kicked off, in the wee hours of Tuesday, a joint meeting of the Maoist and Madheshi Front had decided to opt for majority based voting to resolve disputes seen in the state restructuring if the consensus is not reached among the lead political parties.
The meeting had concluded to opt for such a process after concluding that major parties-Congress and UML- were foiling efforts to cater consensus on disputed issues.
The meeting held at the Maoist Chairman’s residence had also decided to vote in support of the 14-state model or 10 state model proposed by the CA’s thematic committee and Commission on state restructuring respectively.
Prior to this lead political parties had agreed to adopt 11-state model. However the understanding crumbled after three hundred and twenty lawmakers from the Maoist, Congress and UML signed a memorandum demanding unitary-ethnic-identity federalism.
New Lease of Life to Bhattarai government
Though parties had agreed to form a new national unity government in the Congress’s leadership before May 27 by dissolving the Bhattarai led government, Bhattarai’s government has got new lease of life.
Tuesday’s decision to seek three months extension for the CA gave that extra lease of life to the present government. Prime Minister’s political advisor Devendra Paudel claimed that as the government had acquired national consensus status, it will remain intact till the draft of the constitution is prepared.
“It was agreed to transfer the leadership of the government after the draft of the new constitution is prepared. But as the process to extend the CA term has been initiated, the government will remain intact unless the constitution draft is not prepared,” Paudel said.
As per the five-point understanding between political parties, leadership of the government was to be transferred to Congress before May 27 by preparing the first draft of the constitution. In line with this agreement, Congress, UML had participated in the government and rendered it the status of national unity government.