No progress in ending obstruction of ParliamentRuling coalition and the opposition UML have yet to sit for talks. Main opposition adamant on its demand for high-level inquiry into gold smuggling.
Efforts are on to resume the stalled Parliament after nearly a month of obstruction by the main opposition CPN-UML.
The UML has been continuously obstructing proceedings of both the lower and upper houses since July 26 to press its demand for a high-level probe into the July 18 seizure of a large quantity of gold smuggled through Kathmandu airport. Before this, the party obstructed House proceedings for several days since July 10 to protest a controversial statement by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
While the ruling coalition has been arguing that the Central Investigation Bureau of the Nepal Police is capable of investigating the gold scam, the CPN-UML is demanding nothing less than a judicial inquiry as the party claims top politicians and government officials were involved in the scam.
On Wednesday, President Ramchandra Paudel held a meeting with UML chair KP Sharma Oli at Sheetal Niwas and called for ending the impasse. Similarly, three top leaders of the ruling parties—Prime Minister and CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN (Unified Socialist) chief Madhav Kumar Nepal—also discussed ways to resume the House.
During the meeting with Oli, Paudel had expressed concerns over the prolonged obstruction.
According to a source, President Paudel stressed to Oli the urgency of ending the deadlock saying prolonged inactivity of Parliament could increase frustration among the public towards the parliamentary system.
President Paudel also suggested that all parties in Parliament, including the ruling party and the opposition, should build trust for ending the impasse. Earlier, on August 11, President Paudel had met with Speaker Devraj Ghimire and National Assembly chair Ganesh Prasad Timilsina at Sheetal Niwas and asked them to take steps to end the deadlock.
A senior Nepali Congress leader said it may take a few more days for the Parliament to resume as the ruling parties and the main opposition have yet to sit for talks.
Congress chief Deuba is trying to reach out with Oli, but a date for the meeting has yet to be fixed.
The CIB is investigating two different cases of gold smuggling. The first was reported on December 25 last year when gold had been found hidden inside e-cigarettes, while another came out on July 18.
In the first case, a consignment of nine kilos of gold was smuggled into the country by Chinese suppliers, while in the second, around 60 kg of gold was brought in.
Initially, the probe into the July 18 incident was being carried out by the Department of Revenue Investigation, which is under the aegis of the prime minister’s office. But the UML remains adamant on its demand for a high-level judicial inquiry.
Padam Giri, chief whip of the UML, said his party will agree to no less than a high-level committee to probe the gold scam. “Chairman [Oli] has told us that only the formation of a high-level probe committee will pave the way for ending the obstruction.”
On Wednesday morning, three top leaders of the ruling alliance also discussed how to resume the regular house session. The private secretariat of the prime minister said they have decided to intensify talks with parties including the main opposition to end the deadlock.
Some informal communications are being made between the ruling parties and the UML leaders, but that is also not giving any results, said leaders.
“Formal and informal talks have failed to yield any results,” Haribol Gajurel, chief political adviser to the prime minister, said. “There is no progress at all.”