Last year on May 28, the major three parties – the NC and the UML as government partners and UCPN (Maoist) as opposition party - signed a three-point agreement for concluding the peace process and statute drafting by resolving all the disputed issues. However, now it looks that they just did that for extending the CA's deadline by a year. Following the extension, the CA held just eight meetings and remained functional for only 95 minutes in one year.
July 18, 2010
|Jan 11, 2010|
Jan 17, 2010
Jan 18, 2010
Jan 26, 2010
Feb 28, 2010
March 17, 2010
April 17, 2010
Source: CA Secretariat
The first meeting of the CA revised its schedule for the 11th time in order to forward the reports of all thematic committees to the Constitutional Committee (CC) by October 17 for preparing the draft constitution by November 16. However, the CA amended the rules of procedures through the meeting on Jan 17 and 18 when the parties failed to resolve the disputed issues of the new constitution even after the two months later than the scheduled time.
The high level political mechanism (HLPM) formed by the political parties to resolve disputed issues made some important decisions and later the sub-committee formed by CC also resolved 189 out of 210 disputed points. Due to differences among political parties over the form of governance, state restructuring and electoral system, the CC is yet to start the statute drafting. The attendance of the top leaders of the major parties at the CA meetings showed they had no real interest in preparing the statute witin the scheduled time.
Puspa Kamal Dahal
Sher Bahadur Deuba
Ram Bahadur Thapa
Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar
Ram Chandra Poudel
Madhav Kumar Nepal
Jhala Nath Khanal
Source: CA Secretariat
The point is that the main political forces couldn’t reach the consensus over the basic substance of the statute even in one year. It means there are main two views: the first being the position of the NC and few other parties expressing in favour of what they call democratic values, and the second one is that Unified CPN (Maoist) not becoming ready to accept these values. These two views are the main obstacles for statute-drafting during the additional one year time. If only parties are able to reach consensus on the core values of the statute before the CA's deadline expires by mid-night, the nation will get new statute. It is proven that mere extension of the CA term as such does not leave room for hope.
Logical conclusion of the existing peace process was the main point among other agendas agreed by the major three parties last year. In this one year time, integration of Maoists combatants became the most tricky issue for the peace process. Although the Maoists agreed to hand over the chain of command of the PLA to the Army Integration Special Committee and even that happened, the chain of command still remains with the Maoists, practically. The Maoists didn’t show much interest to hand over the chain of command and arms to the state because of lack of trust towards the other political parties.
Political parties agreed to bid farewell to the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) to shift the responsibility of the peace process to the Special Committee. UNMIN courted controversy for their allegedly having a soft corner for the Maoists.
The parties expressed commitment to finish the army integration process within six months of the first extended deadline of CA, but the Maoists, being a major stakeholder of the ongoing peace process, didn’t show much interest to conclude this issue. Considering the strong position the NC had maintained over the handover of the weapons to the government, it is clear that the drafting of the constitution will depend on the posturing of the Maoists vis-à-vis the integration and rehabilitation of their combatants.
The main responsibility of the CA is to prepare the statute but also has a role towards government formation as the Legislature Parliament. It won’t be unfair to say that the major parties held the CA hostage as they tried all sorts of the tricks to get bigger share in power. Seventeen rounds of futile elections were held in the parliament to elect a Prime Minister before the Maoists finally agreed to back a majority government led by Jhala Nath Khanal.
Lack of seriousness among the parties towards the principal agendas, completion of the peace process and promulgation of the new statute show that the Nepalis may still need to wait for quite some time to get the democratic achievements institutionalised. For the parties, if they care about their respective political spaces, they must stop indulging in political brinkmanship, and show real commitment not to delay the statute-drafting and peace process any longer. nepalnews.com