NC: CA process, talks togetherNepali Congress has decided to take talks and the voting process on disputed issues in the Constituent Assembly side by side.
A meeting of top NC leaders held in the presence of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Tuesday decided to keep the door for negotiations open and press the CA chairman to push the Assembly proceedings forward for deciding the contentious issues of statute drafting.
A day after appealing to the opposition to return to the negotiating table, NC leaders briefed Koirala that the Maoists had not ruled out talks. They suggested that the channel for dialogue should not be severed.
“We see Prachandaji in a dilemma over re-starting agitation although they have already announced the protest programme,” said NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel. “So we should wait for them for some time. If they ignore it, we should go for the CA process.”
In Tuesday’s meeting, NC leaders said Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal was not against dialogue although he was compelled to announce the protests due to pressure from some forces in the alliance.
As dialogue fails, CA chair steps in
KATHMANDU: After the ruling and opposition parties came to a parting of the ways, Constituent Assembly Chairman Subas Nembang has begun consultations with the major parties to set the future course of constitution drafting.
The breakdown of talks between the four major forces has again placed Nembang at the centre of politics. Ruling parties are pressing him to call the CA meeting, while the opposition is keenly watching his next move.
The head of the constitution drafting body is scheduled to discuss with the top leaders of the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) on Wednesday afternoon. Even the Maoist party, which has already announced a series of protests to press the ruling parties to follow consensus in statute drafting, has agreed to sit for talks with Nembang.
After the majority process began in the CA, the opposition had earlier decided not to sit for talks with Nembang, raising questions over his neutrality. “The CA chairman has intensified consultations to set the new constitution drafting course. He will also ask the parties to find consensus on the contentious issues,” Nembang’s spokesman Sudarshan Kuikel told the Post.
The CA chairman’s first effort would be to bring the ruling and opposition parties together, and restart negotiations on the disputed constitutional agendas.
Sources close to him said Nembang is in favour of drafting the new constitution on the basis of broader consensus. He will also take initiatives for holding cross-party meetings in quest for consensus.
Nembang played a vital role in bringing the parties together in the run up to January 22, the failed constitution promulgation deadline, by organising rounds of meetings. But he has remained largely passive after the opposition criticised his role when the CA pushed through the majority process at the behest of the ruling parties despite protests from others. Opposition parties had then said he failed to maintain impartiality.
Nembang seeks to garner the support of major parties to take the constitution drafting process forward on the basis of consensus. If there is no accord on the contents of the new constitution, he believes there should be an agreement on the process that has already begun. He wants the presence of the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes-based parties in the CA process, which appears to be a tough task though.
If there is no agreement on both, Nembang prepares to call the CA meeting and move ahead as per the Rules of Procedure. On Monday, NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba suggested that Nembang convene the CA to start the voting process as there were no chances of agreement with the opposition parties.
Nembang will also seek suggestions from the chief whips of the NC, the UML, the Maoists and other parties on the way forward. Spokesman Kuikel said Nembang will ask the opposition to roll back the protest programme as it would further damage the atmosphere for talks.