House resumption delayed as UML unhappy with gold probe conditionsUML leader Nembang says a deal is expected today after Dahal and Oli resolve differences.
Given the absence of the main opposition party chair KP Sharma Oli, the national parties failed to strike a deal to remove the obstruction in the federal parliament on Tuesday.
The CPN-UML has been obstructing both the houses of federal parliament for the last one month demanding a high-level probe to investigate the 60 kg gold smuggling case. Even though the national parties agreed to forming such a panel, the federal parliament could not open as the leaders failed to strike a deal.
On Monday night, the national parties had agreed to form a high-level probe panel after the ongoing investigation in the case by the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police is completed.
“But due to the dilly-dallying by the major parties, the meeting of the national parties was postponed until 11 am tomorrow,” said Santosh Pariyar, chief whip of the Rastriya Swatantra Party. “They are not serious about people’s sufferings and are continuing with their age-old ways of procrastinating on serious issues.”
According to some leaders, the CPN-UML chair has reservations about the deal being prepared by a three-member task force, which also includes the party’s deputy leader Subas Nembang, especially on the provision that the high-level probe panel will only be formed after the Central Investigation Bureau of the Nepal Police presents its investigation report.
“This is the third time that the UML chair has rejected a deal agreed by himself and his leaders, to resume the House,” said Hitraj Pande, chief whip of CPN (Maoist Centre). “Let’s see how things proceed at Wednesday’s meeting.”
The three-member task force formed on Monday night had come up with a two-point proposal—expediting the ongoing probe of the CIB and helping it move towards a logical conclusion, and forming a high-level probe commission after a month, on September 22.
However, according to leaders participating in the meetings of the national parties, UML chair Oli has expressed his objection to forming the probe commission on September 22. “As per UML leaders, Oli wants the probe commission to be formed earlier,” Pariyar told the Post.
After the meeting of the parties in parliament failed to convene the crucial meeting which was supposed to make a deal, the Speaker postponed the meeting to Wednesday, 3 pm, issuing a notice.
With extreme pressure from all sections of society and even from within the parties, major parties responsible for House obstruction are being forced to come up with a solution to end the impasse.
The all-party meeting called by the prime minister on Sunday could not happen due to Oli’s absence. The leaders, therefore, postponed the meeting to 11 am Wednesday.
But according to UML leaders, due to the prime minister’s busy schedule, he had asked Chairman Oli to discuss the matter only on Wednesday, as the two leaders need more time to finalise a deal.
“Actually, due to the newly-appointed Chief Justice’s oath-taking ceremony, the prime minister had asked the UML chair to hold the meeting of the parties on Wednesday,” said Nembang, who is part of the task force formed to draft the terms of reference for the high-level probe panel. “We have agreed to form the panel a day after the CIB submits the investigation report.”
Nembang said the leaders are expected to strike a deal on Wednesday after the two leaders–Prime Minister Dahal and UML chair Oli discuss the issues the task force has agreed upon.
Showing concern over the ‘unnecessary’ obstruction of Parliament, President Ram Chandra Paudel organised a meeting of major political parties on Tuesday morning, but the main opposition party which is obstructing the House, did not attend the meeting held at Shital Niwas.
CPN-UML leaders, however, said it was not necessary for President Paudel to call an all-party meeting when the prime minister is doing the same.
“Why should the President call the meeting when the prime minister is holding a meeting for the same reason,” said a senior UML leader.
Though Nepali Congress’ recent parliamentary party meeting had decided that there was no need for any such high-level probe panel and the CIB would do the needful, the party has agreed to form the panel but only after the CIB presents its report. Some Congress dissidents, however, had joined the chorus of the UML saying that the panel was not being formed in order to save the Maoist Centre leaders.
On Monday, one of the Congress general secretaries, Bishwa Prakash Sharma, said the UML is obstructing the House to save those involved in the gold smuggling case by demanding the formation of a high-level probe panel.
“If a high-level committee was formed in the fake Bhutanese refugee scam, we could have made an attempt to save our leaders. But we didn’t do so. Police have arrested all those involved,” Sharma said at a function held at Arjundhara Municipality in Jhapa on Monday. “Therefore, there is no need for any committee for investigating the gold smuggling scam as well. The police should be allowed to investigate. All those involved should be jailed.”
According to Congress leaders, the high-level probe panel will study the legal problems and structural weaknesses that have led to recurring gold smuggling cases besides seeking ways to control them altogether.
“The panel will also study the necessary legal and structural changes to completely control gold smuggling while also studying the gold smuggled so far,” said Ramesh Lekhak, chief whip of the Nepali Congress and member of the task force formed on Monday night. “As per the UML’s demand, the probe panel will be formed as per the Commission of Inquiry Act 1969.”