Parties inch closer to deal on demarcationThree major forces and Madhes-based parties have agreed, in principle, to settle demarcation row through a high level political mechanism within next three months.
Three major forces and Madhes-based parties have agreed, in principle, to settle demarcation row through a high level political mechanism within next three months.
The Smyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an alliance of four Madhes-based parties, agreed to go ahead with major parties’ four-point proposal, which calls for settling boundary row through a political mechanism in three months, after the major parties gave assurances that there would be “legal guarantee” on the implementation of the four-point proposal. But interlocutors from both sides are still divided over the framework of the demarcation.
During closed-door negotiations with the joint taskforce of major parties on Sunday, representatives of the SLMM insisted on need of a prior political agreement to carve at least another province along the Tarai plains.
However, representatives of major parties were unwilling to make any specific pledge on the details of demarcation.
“Three parties seem to be ready to mention demarcation in the terms of reference of the political mechanism, but they are unwilling to mention anything more than that,” said Rajendra Shrestha, co-chair of Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal. “We are asking them to specify what exactly the proposed mechanism will do.”
Shrestha said that the Morcha wants “credible assurance” that the federal boundaries would be revisited by taking the report of the state restructuring commission into consideration. The report has recommended two provinces in Tarai plains on the basis of capability and identity.
Major parties are also reluctant to describe Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur—the five districts that Morcha stress should be termed disputed—as disputed.
During the discussions, Morcha leaders said that they cannot accept “any vague offer” on demarcation, as there is a danger of disownment from their constituencies. “We are already taking a big risk by agreeing on ‘an agreement on credit’. Signing a vague deal with major parties after loss of more than 40 lives is almost like committing suicide for the Morcha leadership. We want a deal that is tangible, which could be owned by our constituencies,” said a Morcha leader.
Taskforce members said that negotiations were heading towards a positive direction on ironing out differences on other contentious issues, notably constituency delineation and proportional and inclusive representation in state bodies.
Morcha leaders have hinted that they could own up the Constitution Amendment Bill, which is waiting a vote in Parliament, if it is endorsed in line with revision proposals filed by Nepali Congress parliamentarians including Bimalendra Nidhi.
Interlocutors from both sides have agreed to meet again to formulate a common position.
“The meeting could not make any significant progress today, but discussions are underway on several acceptable alternatives to end the crisis,” said Nepali Congress leader Mahesh Acharya, stopping short of giving further details.