PM’s UN visit may delay new govt formationAs discussions on the formation of a new government gather pace, parties face an uphill battle to meet the constitutional requirement of electing a new prime minister within a week of the constitution promulgation.
As discussions on the formation of a new government gather pace, parties face an uphill battle to meet the constitutional requirement of electing a new prime minister within a week of the constitution promulgation.
It is not immediately clear if the parties will be able to work out an arrangement on the leadership and composition of the new government within a week. Much will depend on whether Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s scheduled visit to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on September 22, two days after the constitution is promulgated, goes ahead.
“The constitution appears really ambitious on this,” said constitution expert Bhimarjun Acharya, referring to the one-week time frame for the formation of a new government. “This will have serious implications on its implementation in the days ahead.”
Nepali Congress sources suggest that the prime minister is keen to address the UNGA on September 25 before he steps down. But CPN-UML, whose consent is critical, remains undecided.
Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, a UML leader, said on Thursday that it was not yet clear whether the PM would attend the UNGA. “Parties are discussing the constitutional aspects of the government and things will be clear only by tomorrow,” Pandey said, adding that a Cabinet meeting on Friday morning will decide whether the PM will lead the Nepali delegation to the UNGA.
After having delivered a new constitution, PM Koirala naturally wants to meet world leaders, said an NC leader. Besides, he also wants to use the opportunity to get a regular health check-up in New York before he steps down.
If Koirala decides to go to the UNGA, he is likely to break his own often repeated promise of stepping down the very next day a constitution is promulgated.
“PM’s presence in the UNGA is almost certain. The government formation process will begin once he returns to Nepal,” said NC leader Purna Bahadur Khadka. Considering
constitutional provisions, NC leaders are in favour of
ending the ongoing House session and summoning a new session as soon as Koirala returns from New York.
UML had decided to support the election of Sushil Koirala as the Prime Minster in February 2014 only after receiving assurances that the coalition partners would promulgate new constitution within a year and that NC would subsequently hand over the government leadership to UML.
Meanwhile, UML has begun its diplomatic outreach in anticipation of forming the next government. UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli has sent party Secretary Pradeep Gyawali and central leader Yubaraj Banskota to New Delhi on a goodwill visit. Party’s General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel has recently returned after meeting senior Chinese Communist Party leaders in Beijing, while a team of senior UML leaders led by former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is busy briefing heads of Kathmandu-based diplomatic missions.
While signing the 16-point agreement in June, major parties had informally agreed to form an all-party government under UML. Sources say an informal understanding had also been reached on sharing the key positions among the three major parties: Presidential position for Congress, Parliament’s Speaker for Maoists and remaining positions such as Vice-president and Deputy Speaker for other parties.