JUN 18 -
Three weeks after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, political party leaders have once again started negotiations on the next steps that should be taken in order to salvage the political process. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has just started discussions with leaders of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML. This is a positive sign. As the leader of the largest party in the CA and the one that is currently heading the government, it is Dahal’s responsibility to reach out to other political forces. It is to be hoped that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will also start his own consultations with a wide variety of leaders. Only multi-fronted discussions between parties will make it possible to prevent all sides from drifting further into hardline positions that will damage the political process.
So far, Sushil Koirala of the Nepali Congress, and Madhav Nepal of the UML appear to have told Dahal that no consensus between the political parties will be possible until the Prime Minister resigns. This may be a preliminary bargaining position, like many that have been adopted by the parties in the past. This may soon give way to a more flexible negotiating position. What will be worrying, however, is if the NC and the UML continue to stick to this one
demand and refuse to negotiate on other issues until Prime Minister Bhattarai resigns. There are a wide variety of issues to be discussed. The top priority is to ensure that all the progress that was made in the Constituent Assembly is salvaged and to take up discussions where they were left off. The resignation of the Prime Pinister or the formation of a new government will necessarily form one aspect of the discussions. But to insist that no discussions will be possible until the current government resigns is to impose a great obstacle to any fruitful negotiation.
This is because the Maoists too have their own worries. They are seeking their own guarantees regarding the future of the political process. Giving up their leadership of government without any guarantees from the other political forces will not solve the crucial constitutional matters that confront the nation. It is imperative, therefore, that the parties begin negotiations on crucial issues. These should include an agreement that all of them will accept all of the accords that have been made on the constitution in the past and will start discussing the federal structure. In addition, consultations are also required over the option to choose to lead out of the current political quagmire: whether to reinstate the CA or to hold fresh elections. Then, discussions on the precise process to follow in either of these cases need to be initiated. Negotiations on replacing this government should proceed simultaneously with these.
Posted on: 2012-06-18 08:00